God is amazing!! My heart is overjoyed because my life is so abundantly and overflowingly enriched with every blessing that comes from God Himself.
He is amazing, and He loves me so much. Christian Runners, my running group--which I talk about so much these days--has been such an answered prayer and one of MANY blessings from the Lord.
An answered prayer Two months ago (March) when I was meeting with my good friend Tola to have our girl chat and pray together, I asked Tola to pray with me for wisdom to take good care of my health and my body. I felt I was living a very unbalanced lifestyle, which included my eating habits, sleeping, and exercising (or lack thereof). I realized I wanted and needed to be faithful with what the Lord has given me.
Soon within that week after our prayer, Christian Runners came up. My pastor Alex MacLeod sent out an e-mail from Laura Branson (the leader of Christian Runners' Toronto Chapter). Within a few days, I started running with Laura B, Steve Sampson (who coaches all of us!), and a few others.
First Saturday run Wearing a Columbia ski jacket, I walked into my first Saturday run with them at Sunnybrook Park wondering how long this was gonna last. How comfortable was I gonna feel when I hadn't been running for such a long time? On that first day, snow was still brightly covering the grounds and trails at Sunnybrook Park, and trees, bare with dry branches hanging in cold air against the wintery sky. Yes, it was a proper winter day.
Like most people who are picking up running again after a long time, I felt quite shy, quietly worrying how much I could fit in with a "hardcore" running group. It turns out that people in this group are serious about their running, but there is also that strong sense of graciousness, love, and acceptance even on the first day I was there. Steve and Laura adjusted for my need to run slowly and a short distance on that day.
Christian Runners - graciousness The goal of Christian Runners is to run together as believers and glorify God. But we welcome and invite runners whether they are believers or not. We want to create an environment where runners of ALL levels feel comfortable to pick up running and run with us. And we do so by loving one another, being sensitive each person's running level, and yet challenging one another to improve. I often hear words of encouragement and a sense of humour. Steve Sampson, a well-accomplished runner and personal trainer himself, is our coach although he charges not a penny from any one of us! Steve gave me core workouts each week to work towards while passing on to me many useful tips surrounding running, e.g. nutrition, posture, breathing techniques, and mentality. I felt like I was receiving so much, and you know in our North American culture, we are taught to think that nothing GOOD is free; there is a price to pay for something good. OR you feel really embarrassed for burdening someone and receiving so much.
So, I started to feel bad for receiving something so good for free and wondering for how much longer I should allow myself to keep receiving this. But Steve taught me something. He said something like this, "What you're learning and receiving from me is not only for your own good; you can always share it with others and teach it to others later, too."
Running is a gift Aha! That's it. Steve's words became real life practice as I was soon learning to pass on my new found knowledge to other runners. Later, Laura's words also affirmed for me what I had learned about sharing. She said in one prayer/conversation, "Thank you Lord for the gift of running". I asked in my mind: Running is a gift?! So, the answer: running IS a gift! Running is an activity, but running is also a refined skill. When you're seasoned in it, running also becomes an art and a science. With all that talent you have as a runner AND a Christ-follower, running is a gift to be shared with others AND used for the glory of the Lord. That was what Steve was doing.
Praying & Running Sharing the pursuit of running together with other believers has been a wonderful blessing for me. What distinguishes Christian Runners from other running clubs is that we pray together before and after each run. (And I've been encouraged to have fellowship with God in my heart while we're running, too!) We are there reminded to run for the Lord and for the glory of the Lord, not just for ourselves.
About Christ Sharing fellowship time over home-made french toasts has just been an awesome and delightful time every Saturday after the run. Steve Sampson's encouragement for me to challenge myself in running and for others to do the same has just been a blessing for all of us.
Steve said at several different occasions that people are looking to be loved when they come to us. He said, "You gotta love them on." We are not here to challenge someone else's thinking. We don't need to convict others because God Himself has already convicted them in their hearts (as said in the book of Romans); we are only here to show them the Person, Jesus Christ, and His love. He repeated a few times: You just gotta love 'em on.
You can't help to think that you are in the right place when you have conversations in a car talking about how to show the Lord's love to someone who hasn't met the Lord Jesus. You just want to keep it going!
Touched today Lately, I feel that my friendships with several members of the group are growing and it cheers my heart to realize that. I am feeling more and more comfortable and connected with different individuals of the group.
Today, I was so touched when I received a facebook message from Kari, a new friend from Christian Runners, simply to tell me that something was telling her to pray for me today. It was so sweet ... and I was so touched, amazed at EVERY blessing that the Lord has given!
I haven't even mentioned that we might start to have some post-run devotions (which would be awesome!!) some time soon.