Worship and running. It’s all training.

This was an article I wrote for our church email newsletter last fall, but I was reading over it as I’ve begun training now for the Bangkok Marathon, and reminded of the discipline in our lives it takes not only for physical things, but also in our expression of worship… (October 15, 2010)

FBC weekly

Staff Corner
Meridith Johnson, Director of
Worship Ministry
One step at a time.
     Many of you may have heard or knew that I ran the Portland Marathon this past Sunday, and the only way that I was able to accomplish this life-goal of mine, was to run one step at a time.  The last few miles of the 26.2 mile race I verbally repeated to myself over and over, “it’s almost over, I’m almost done”.  And then, before long, I did finish.  I ran the race.  I accomplished a goal.
     Now you may ask, “I thought this report was about worship?”, and yes, it is, let me get to that.  You see, I’ve never been an athletic person, I was a cheerleader in High School, and could hardly run a mile until I was probably 21.  But with perseverance, practice, and discipline, I trained for shorter races, and soon the distances I once thought were hard and unbelievably long, became easy and didn’t seem as long as they seemed to be.
     Worship is something we will never really understand, or comprehend, but through Scripture, we see that as God’s people, it is an act we are commanded to do.  Something happens when as a church, we gather and corporately praise God and verbally sing, say, and pray what we know to be true of our God.  Just like the marathon I ran, I had no idea what the experience would be like until I began training, and working at doing something I wasn’t comfortable with.  Worship I would say is the same in many respects.  When we ascribe that our God is worthy (where we get the word “worship”), sometimes it is uncomfortable and sometimes we don’t feel like worshipping, but the end result and goal is always accomplished when we are willing.  God is always lifted high, and his name is glorified.
     During my months of training, some mornings I would wake up only to see it was way too early for anyone to do anything on a Saturday, then eventually I would stumble out of bed to run.  Sunday mornings, or all mornings our worship may feel the same way to us, like a chore.  But when we worship, Psalm 22:3 says that God inhabits the praises of his people.  Other translations for this Hebrew word yashab are “to dwell”, “to remain”, “to sit” or “to abide”.  This verb implies God’s action on his part to dwell and be among us when we worship him.  There is something uncomfortable about the idea that God dwells with us when we worship, the living God, among us, his people.  The experience is indescribable, but worth the effort of our time and attention.
     Now, many of you have never run a marathon, and maybe never will, but you can choose to work at your personal worship and as a body our expression of praise corporately as a church.  This weekend, may you worship God in every word, activity, and breath, and on Sunday, every Sunday, may our sacrifice of praise be authentic, and change our hearts and lives.

The Marathon Diaries, Week 4

Beginning of week 4: the Marathon Diaries.

Twenty-six point two miles never felt farther to me.  Currently in the training schedule, I don’t run close to that much in a WEEK.  Let alone one, single, run.  Holy cow, what am I doing?

Maybe that’s why I’ve put off registering…

No, I have a better reason why I’ve put off registering, I’m waiting to see how my knee/IT band does once I’m up a little more mileage, basically, this week, and next will tell.  If you see me passed out on the side of the road some morning, you’ll know that: 1) I probably won’t be running the PDX Marathon after all and 2) that I may be in need of your assistance.  Call 911 and come help me.  Hopefully I won’t already be dead.

You know, when I tell people that I’m training for a Marathon, everyone seems to get the same look of shock, amazement and terror in their eyes as they reply, “YOU ARE???”.  I laugh.  They stand there shocked a few moments more.  Then they say, “Wow, I could never do that, I’m not a runner, I hate running”. To that, I reply, “me too, I hate running, I was a cheerleader in High School and never ran more than a mile until I was probably… 20”.

Truth is, I’m not really a runner at heart, but there are a lot of things I’m learning to love about it.  Once you get over the “wall”… which usually takes a while… I don’t think I have in the past 3 weeks… Once the wall is broken, your legs become wings, and you could run forever.  Mentally you come to a place of triumph, and you soar down the road and leave clouds of dust behind you.  It’s an amazing feeling.  I can’t wait to get back to that.  Hopefully this week.

Anyway, I’ve been trying to get into a routine of getting up early and running.  Let’s just say I haven’t been successful.  This morning, as I lay lifeless in bed, with my nose still throbbing in pain from how many times I had blown it yesterday, I suddenly woke up, seeing the dim dawn light coming through my curtains. I rolled over to glance at my phone to see the time was: 5:54 a.m.  Of course my first thought was “wow, I should really get up and go running now”… but instead of listening to that still small voice, I tried to sleep a little longer. As the minutes slowly passed by, it was like my shoes were calling me.  They wanted to run.  6:02 a.m.,  I jump up, gaze out my window and stare at the allergy infested grassland around me, I thought once again about going back to bed, but somehow my arms reached for my running shoes instead.  This was a truly out of body experience.

So yeah, I ran early this morning.  Short run, just 3 miles.  (And yes, there was once a day when a “short run” was more like five steps, but these days, 3 and 4 milers are short.  Wow, I’m a runner.)

Well, if you care, you’ve finished this blog.  I’ll keep you all updated on how my body is surviving this venture.

10.10.10.  If I’m still alive and make it to race day.