Well, it is complete. God laid it on my heart in June 2019 to get back to running. He has always spoken to me through the alone time that running gives me. He has allowed me to worship him and connect intimately with the Spirit while pushing my body beyond its natural human abilities.
I was nervous. Here I am 41, 200lbs. How am I going to run again? I am not 30 any longer. I invested in Ryan Hall’s book Run the Mile You’re In. God used Ryan’s book to show me that I don’t need to look at the finish line, just take one step at a time and he will do the rest.
Ryan told how he asked God for a spiritual theme for each race he entered. As he trained, he asked God to grow that theme in him as he used running as a metaphor for everyday life.
I asked God to give me a theme for this half marathon experiment. God gave me the theme of redemption. Hence #redemptionrun…
God would lead me through this journey to be thankful for a body that was not shaped like a typical runner yet was strong enough to finish well. I would not be breaking any personal records, but I would be closer to him and my spirit would be strengthened beyond anything I could imagine. I’d truly be “closer to Jesus with every step.”
God showed me he wanted me to focus on finishing not timing. This would be about him and me not about anything else. He gave me a prayer focus for each kilometer and he ran the race beside me the whole way.
I am overwhelmed that God wanted to show up for little old me. He reminded me of my value and just how much he treasures me and takes joy in watching me cross a finish line knowing it is only the beginning.
If you have the strength and longevity, please keep reading. I will share with you how Jesus showed up in every kilometer. If you’re done here, no problem. Thank you for sharing this journey with me and stay tuned for more running adventures to come! Remember:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside very weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us RUN WITH ENDURANCE the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith…”Hebrews 12:1-2
In the press of the pre-race crowd, God allowed me to meet up with Steph and Devin. We prayed for safety and Devin’s finish goal. He missed it by 3 minutes, but he did such a great job!! Praise God for families that play together!! (The two of them and their daughter had run Saturday too.) Jesus wants to be included in our recreation and fun.
Kilometer 1: God’s Attributes and Praise
What a beautiful morning it was! The sky was blue, and the clouds were fluffy. Saturday was damp and rainy. Oh, it was cold and windy. Yet, even as my eyes watered, I knew this was going to be an amazing day. What do you have for me, Shepherd?
Of course, I fell back onto my favourite name and attribute of God – Abba. My father, dad, security. I am so fortunate to have an earthly father that represents that security and love so well. Abba, thank you for showing me and my children a human representation of your love in my Dad.
Yet there’s more. God reminded me of the name the children used for Amy Carmichael (my favourite missionary hero who ministered in Ireland, Japan, and India). The orphans she rescued from temple slavery called her Amma – the word for mother. God told me that he is ok with me calling him Amma. After all, the word used for Holy Spirit is feminine. God has mother attributes and I have been given an earthly representation of them in my own Mom. I praise you, God, for being my heavenly Mother!
My mind wandered through so many attributes of God – attributes I’d be praying for those coming in future kilometers: comforter, provider, healer, restorer, lover, friend, prince of peace, shepherd, partner… The list could never truly be complete, but these are the ones on which I landed. God is a GREAT and AWESOME God.
Kilometer 2: Repentance
I asked God to show me places where I need to repent. I have susceptible sins that I always use as a crutch when I am ashamed to sit on Amma’s lap and see her face of disappointment… My downfalls are pride, self-promotion, self-pity, and independence. All of these things get in the way of my relationship with God. When I rely on these things my depression deepens, and I can only see darkness. My depression is not sin, but when I surrender to it instead of consciously looking towards the light of Jesus, I need to repent and once again be free.
Many of our pits of sin as a society and as a church are due to our own actions. We have no one to blame but ourselves. God showed me that the church has allowed some “reactions to cultural issues” to take our focus off ourselves as individual Jesus followers.
For example, I love all people and I am terribly bothered by Christians that do not accept and love those in the LGTBQ+ community. I HATE Facebook warrior posts that dehumanize their struggles and pain. I believe in loving all and allowing God to make any changes that God feels are necessary.
The church is quite divided over issues like this. It is not a salvation issue. However, in trying to convince our Jesus-siblings that our thoughts are more correct than theirs, our focus is slipping. I need to be more concerned with MY sin than with that of others who I could classify as unloving pharisees. Wow! How pharisaical is that? I’m going to classify those who respond differently than me as unloving pharisees? Their viewpoints are often spoken because they want to protect people from sin and its consequences. Hmmmm…..
What happened to LOVE ALL AND ALLOW GOD ALONE TO MAKE THE NECESSARY CHANGES?
Oh God, forgive my arrogance. Forgive my ungodly anger. Let me focus on loving my neighbour – even the one that sits beside me at church.
Let me welcome all and help them find their place at YOUR table! When it comes to inner church sides, let me always side with mercy remembering that you have forgiven me my innate depravity and you have atoned for me (regardless of my atonement theory!!). Thank you for your REDEMPTION and love. Let me always be willing to open my arms to those created in your image whether they rub the right way or not.
Kilometer 3: Karis and the CHTF Ministry
Karis is a lovely friend from Cambridge Community Church that loves Jesus with her whole heart. She has a ministry of care like no other. God allowed our little family to go through some super crisis moments the week leading up to this run. Pastor Dan said that he wanted me to be the CHTF pastor for when the “Crap Hits The Fan.” That silly comment amidst the stress put things into perspective for me. Karis’ deacon/helps gifts could fit well with my shepherding gifts. This is family. We can help our pastoral staff cope with everything going on by teaming up for a Caring, Healing, Thanksgiving and Faith ministry (CHTF – a much better meaning for these letters!!)
Karis and I spent over an hour discussing and praying for our church’s spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical needs. We were able to triage the needs and get some action plans in place.
As I prayed for this, God showed me that this is not about me and Karis doing it all. This is about him being the good SHEPHERD and us being sheep. We need to use this ministry to put others in touch with those that can help them. We need to help guide those hurting to those who have already walked the valley. We need to help facilitate an openness in our congregation that creates a safe place for sharing the sin, the pain, the load. God will grow Karis and me and the church through this and we will never be the same!
As I was praying for Karis, a woman started running beside me. She asked if this is my first half and I explained it was my first in a long time. She told me it was her first ever. God told me to tell her why I was running. I told her it was my first half since my divorce, and it was to redeem running back for my spiritual and mental health. Right away she told me that she started running after her separation for the sake of her mental health.
I told her that running is a metaphor for life, and she needs to read Ryan Hall’s Run the Mile You’re In. It would help her remember that each stage of life has its own lessons. We chatted for a bit while I was asking God if I was to tell her more.
God told me I could let her go now as it was not mine to carry. My job was to point her in the right direction and let him do the rest. Whether she reads the book or not, my job was done. That is how he would shepherd Karis and me as we work together. We cannot carry it all. We need to point people to the others in our congregation and city who could help and then aid our pastoral staff by letting them know what was going on in the in’s and out’s of our family life.
We are links, facilitators, and helpers – nothing more. We cannot fix or heal anyone. We will help them carry their stuff to Jesus and praise him when they connect with the help they need.
Kilometer 4: Andrew & Kim
Andrew is a cousin of mine who lives in BC with his wonderful wife Kim. I love them so much. They have been my strength and stability over the years and God has provided for my needs through their love and generosity.
I praised God for them and then prayed for their marriage and Andrew’s relationship with each of his kiddos. He has gone through some dark times and God showed me that he feels like he’s treading water in the ocean sometimes. What do you do with a smart, independent, talented wife that can swim circles around you? What do you do with an amazing almost-15-year-old son that is so different than you, but oh so the same? How do you connect with a 13-year-old treasure that overwhelms you with her abilities to succeed at EVERYTHING she chooses to do? How do you cope with a growing toddler that captures the world in his smile?
Oh God, protect Andrew from becoming overwhelmed… What was that, God? Am I willing to tell him WHAT?! Uuuh… Do I HAVE to?
Sometimes God gives you words for people that you don’t understand. This is not for public consumption, but God showed up and spoke! He is moving and I look forward to seeing his hand at work in my precious family
Kilometer 5: Nathan
Nathan had a tough week and he was going to be courageous enough to share at church. As I was praying for him, I looked at the time. It is 8:30. Wake-up call! Satan won’t want Nathan to wake up, get ready and arrive at church. God is doing something amazing through him today. God will bring a wake-up call to our church as well. Wake up!!
God gave me some private things to text Nathan too. I pray God’s words really did help and encourage him. My job is to pass it along and pray for God’s power to be shown in the lives of my dearly loved Jesus-siblings!
Kilometer 6: Reneta & Jason
God is on the move. Reneta is a friend of mine that I met at Refit – an exercise class that meets at my church. She didn’t know Jesus personally, but knew about him. She started coming to church, and then she started to ask God to show himself to her. He revealed himself and saved my friend who is now a Jesus-sister!
God had me pray for Reneta and Jason’s marriage. Hmmm… Marriage again. I totally get it as they have a blended family, 4 kids – 3 of whom are teenagers, etc, etc. Ok, God, take their marriage and let it bring you glory. Protect them in the heaviness of everyday life right now.
Show the three girls how valuable they are to YOU. Let the son, see his future is worth the steps his folks are taking to guild him in the right way…
Yes, God, protect this marriage. Thank you that Reneta has such a supportive guy. Save Jason and let him know that as good a person as he is, he still needs you…
Nothing specific was revealed, but God was prompting me to something bigger. He was going to do something in me while he focused me on the one word that I really didn’t want to focus on as this was my redemption run – the first half-marathon since my divorce.
Kilometer 7: Elizabeth & John
Oh, here we go! My sister. She and my brother-in-law are going to Korea to celebrate their – oh – marriage… They’ve been married for 25 years and it has not been easy. With John an international engineer, Elizabeth has had to show a strength on the home front that cannot be matched. She is my hero. I am so thankful that God created her to be independent and strong. Her hobbies are such that they show her beautiful artistry and ability. Everything she puts her hand to turns out beautiful.
In Korea, they will learn to connect with each other again. They will have FUN! Jesus wants to be invited into our fun. God gave me a few more things for my sister and the family. He showed me that sometimes we need to see the example of a steady, strong persistence in our faith. We need people like Elizabeth!
Kilometer 8: CCC/Temple
I am honoured to be loved by so many Jesus followers (and to love them in return). God is going to use our churches to impact our city and our world by impacting the individuals that come into contact with them. There have been a few situations that have occurred, and they are wake up calls to our churches to help them see the need for the individual to see God in their everyday lives.
God asked me if I would be willing to allow my darkness to bring others light. He gave me a specific situation and asked me for an Abraham moment. Would I be willing to go through more pain in order to help more people? When I came face to face with this, I initially told God no. He slowed me right down. This is where I was feeling physically good and should have been overtaking others. I told God as much and he let me know that if I wasn’t willing to go through more for the sake of others, I would never run to my full potential.
I tried to speed up, but the Spirit physically held me back. I have never experienced such a battle. It was downright weird. Really, God? I’m praying for marriages, I am running a, well, a half marathon for crying out loud… I started to cry. I wasn’t throwing a temper tantrum. God was asking if I’m serious about following him completely.
This isn’t some cosmic game where he endangers the lives of his children. He isn’t playing chess with me. He is just asking for my heart – for ALL of me – every day and every time. I humbly whispered, “Yes, God, if it helps others… If it can be redeemed for your goodness… If you promise to hold me close every step of the way, I will go to hell and back for them…”
I can’t give you more here except to say that as and Abraham moment, God will provide a way of escape should I ever need it. Please don’t worry!
Kilometer 9: Mike & Kim
Uhg! Another marriage! I love these guys. Mike is your friendly neighbourhood “heretic” who constantly pushes others to think beyond tradition and truly understand what God is doing in this world. In fact, he may have a problem with the theology of kilometer 8, but I won’t defend it😉
I praised God that he has built a relationship with Mike and Kim and they’re raising their young women for his glory. I focused on some mental health prayer and just some solid praise for this family. They are willing to go the extra mile for anyone who is in need or hurting. They are such an amazing example of new faith flourishing.
God showed me that no family is complete without the questioners, the encouragers – the Mike’s and Kim’s.
Kilometer 10: Jon & Anj
What’s this now? My Brother and his wife? Another marriage… Yup, I’m getting the point, God. I MUST pray for marriages in my family but more specifically the marriages of my pastor friends. My brother and his wife have been in ministry for many years and it is not an easy road. They have been hurt and disrespected time and again. They have gone through the refining fire and come out as gold. Never have I seen such a beautiful prayer answered as my mother’s when my brother was young. She constantly prayed for him to find peace with God. Peace with his dealings with others. He has come through the challenges gentle, kind, and humble. He is my hero.
God revealed something else here for me to deal with privately, but NEVER raise a hand (metaphor) against the Lord’s anointed – whether you agree with them or not. God is sovereign and just and he will not let the ill treatment of his servants be neglected…
Kilometer 11: Missionaries ~ Christina, Lees, Brights, Nick
My Christina! Dear friend in the Czech. She is spending her life sharing the good news of the kingdom of God with others. She loves Jesus so much, yet her heart is lonely. God assured me that he has her steps planned and she is not alone.
My cousin Rachel! Another marriage! Ok, God, I hear you… Also, their kids… J~~, R~~, I~~, B~~… What’s the other one’s name? Oh my! God, I pray for him all the time. Why can’t I remember his name? Lord, this is ridiculous. I know this. No WAY is this happening… [Still Small Voice] “Marilyn, I can help him whether you know his name or not. I just asked you to pray!”
Of course, I don’t need to know all the details or remember everyone’s name. God will bring to mind situations and he will ask me to pray. Prayer is angel fuel. They don’t care if I remember names in my old age. They just care that their tank is full so they can keep on defending the Kingdom. Ok, God, be with him and protect him and hold him close. [SSV] “Will do, Kiddo. His name is C~~ by the way.” I KNEW it! (face palm)
Erica and Byron. So many in their ministry that I can pray for without knowing names. Oh yah, and their MARRIAGE… I get it, Lord.
Nick. Yay, no marriage to pray for! [SSV] “How do you know?” What? Really?!? “Not, today, but don’t count that one out! Today is about his strength both physical and spiritual. Just remember not to assume anything when I am at work…”
Kilometer 12: Hannah
My first baby girl. Too personal to discuss here. Main reminder as we struggle with meeting halfway with cell phone usage is directly from a Prayer Conference at Temple last week. When H is bored with life (like ALL 14-year olds), it is a spiritual boredom and God is trying to break in and speak. I need to help her be free from the chains of technology as she will temporarily satisfy a spiritual craving with it and not be ready to hear Jesus.
What are you using to satiate a spiritual craving? Is there something getting in the way of God’s still small voice?
Kilometer 13: Mom & Dad
Awk! Another marriage! Yes, even at 50 years, marriages need prayer. Marriages need hard work and intentionality. So much to be thankful for here. Basic prayer was happening and then I asked God to show me something specific about my folks. I did NOT like his response.
When their earthly assignment is up and they graduate into his presence will I be willing to let them go? What?! No, they can’t die. No way. This was a nice sunny day. I think I’m done – right here…
[Still Small Voice] “Not today and not very soon, but I know how much you lean on them. I am preparing you for years down the road. Run the Mile You’re In but remember there are more miles to come around the bend. Will you be willing to release them to me?”
I never grasped how brave my mom was as she sat beside Grandma’s bedside and told Grandma it was ok to go… I pray that when the time comes – 20 years, right, God?! – he will make me brave like her.
Kilometer 14: Jaelyn
Oh, my precious bird of light. So much here that is personal just like her sister’s kilometer. The take-away: don’t let the little ones fall through the cracks because we’re focused on the big ones. The season has been quite Hannah-focused as she entered grade 9, but don’t forget about Jae.
As Karis and I head into a season of communication in our church family, don’t forget about the little ones as we focus on the big ones.
Kilometer 15: Bob & Joelene & Baby
God? God. This is my #redemptionrun. Why is he even on my list? Ok, I’ll get started… [SMV] “I am not done with him. I am not done with her. Baby will be key in what I do with their relationship and their lives. Now, no more focus here, just enjoy the rest of the kilometer with me…”
Kilometer 16: Becky & Tom & Ben & Olivia
Becky and Tom are dear friends who hit some very troubled waters this year. I was looking forward to this kilometer to commit their separate futures to the Lord and bring the kiddos to Jesus once again. As I crossed over this kilometer marking, a lady in front of me slowed almost to a stop. She had been walk/running the whole way, so that’s not an issue. This time was different though.
My fellow runner was almost in full panic attack as we came up to a bridge that would lead us into the park for the final 5km. She told me she couldn’t run the bridge. She thought she could but couldn’t. Turns out she has a friend who committed suicide by jumping off a bridge. She was in a panic remembering him.
I slowed right down and walked and ran beside her. I told her this was a redemption run and we could redeem her friends’ sacrifice understanding that his death has led to mental health being more acceptable to discuss. Young people everywhere have more access to mental health support. Her run was between her and her creator and it was up to her to allow this run to be redeemed. I would run with her the entire way across the bridge.
I tucked in behind her as the marathoners were running beside us. I told her that in life it didn’t matter who seemed to be passing her. What mattered was that she keeps on running.
I asked her to focus on the clouds, the birds, and the colours of the trees. I told her my name and she told me her name is Barb. I cheered her on the whole way across the bridge. It was so noisy as we crossed over the very busy road. Barb was so excited as we crossed over onto solid ground. She was so appreciative that I was willing to stay and run with her. She got a burst of energy once it was over and she took off to finish the race.
I ran slowly. I was thrilled that God used me, but I was a bit grumpy. This was supposed to be Becky’s kilometer. God told me I’d better not be pouting! He chose Barb to remind me that everyone around us has a story of trauma or pain. He showed me that my role in their pain is to run behind them calling out encouragement amid the noise.
It isn’t my job to fix Becky’s trauma or even push her situation forward. My job is to let her and God set the pace and keep cheering her on and remind her to “set her mind on things above that are above, not on things that are on earth.” (Colossians 3:2) It is up to Becky to run above the noise. It is up to me to simply be a friend.
Thank you, God, for Barb and her story helping me see how to be a better friend.
Kilometer 17: Lisa & Louis
Oh my, what to say… Lisa and Louis are a precious couple that need support as Lisa prepares to say goodbye to Louis. God wanted me to pray for marriage once again. In the depression that comes with long term, terminal illness, marriages can be ripped to shreds as people strive to stay strong for one another and their children.
Financially drained and emotionally spent, this family simply needs a break. I prayed for compassion, strength, and a gentle end. In a run when God is beginning something in me, I was praying for God to bring an end. What a sad thought.
God reminded me that even in an earthly end he is powerful enough to bring a spiritual beginning. Sometimes we must let things go and trust him with them. We cannot have all the answers and we do not need them. This is where faith truly comes into play. God, please give Lisa and Louis the faith needed to endure this next phase of their journey.
Kilometer 18: Linda
Pain! Sharp pain! In my left foot. What is going on? Just as I crossed the 18 km mark, God allowed me to feel a foot pain I have never felt before. I was to pray for Linda. God wanted me to have a physical understanding of her emotional pain. Every day she wakes up to pain. Her emotions manifest in her body as physical ailments.
She carries doubt of her impact for God as he has never allowed her to experience being a wife and mother. She feels like she is not enough. God wanted me to understand how agonizing this pain is to her on a regular basis.
God gave me a message to send to Linda and perhaps you need it too. Sometimes God doesn’t tell you who you are impacting as it would cause you more stress. God is not someone who wants to add stress to his children. Sometimes things are unknown in order to save you from additional pressure. You are valuable. God loves it when you wake up and get ready for the day because he knows that with him you are an unstoppable force for his kingdom.
Keep getting up. Keep living life and doing just what you’re doing. Keep going. Whether you are running, walking, limping or crawling just keep going!
Kilometer 19: Me and my future & misc unspoken requests
Again, God reminded me that I can pray for people I do not know. I can beg God to take my pain away and he will redeem it to help others instead. He will allow pain so that I do not get complacent in my remembrance of others. Painful kilometers make me thankful for the easier ones!
Kilometer 20: Laura & Jesse
Oh, my heart! My precious friends. What do we have here? Another marriage to pray for. In the loss of their little girl, I must keep encouraging and praying for their marriage. I have an overwhelming sense that God is reminding me that he has their sweetie in the palm of his hand, and it is up to me and the CCC family to care for Laura and Jesse.
How do you care for people who have endured such pain? [SMV] “Oh, Marilyn. Have you forgotten so soon? Work together as a family to care for them. Point them to others who have been through pain. Wake up and realize that trauma is a turning point for people. Help them turn to me. Run the bridge behind them. Release them to me. Encourage them. When you’re in pain, pray for their pain. Just keep going…”
Kilometer 21: Praise
I am in awe, Jesus, that you’d want to run this race with me. Thank you for showing up in each kilometer. You are truly my friend and saviour. For it all, I praise you. Now, could we just finish this thing?!
Kilometer .1: Just run and breathe in Jesus
“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”Philippians 1:3-6
There you have it! Do you feel like you just ran a half marathon? Me too! I was so sick from the spiritual battle the week leading up to the run that my boss even sent me home Friday to sleep as he was afraid of how ill I’d be if I didn’t get rest before the run. I’m still sore, but the muscles that were stretched the most were spiritual ones. I will never be the same and I hope in some way, my story shows you a small glimpse of Jesus and his redemptive power. What does he want you to offer as a living sacrifice so that he can run your race with you?