Tuesday, November 16, 2010
God Rocked San Antonio!
Throughout the past eight years a lot of expos and running events have raced by ... sometimes the moments run together. There are times when I just can't remember some of the special moments that we share with the people, places, and things that come our way to shape and mold our heart along our TEAM 413 journey. But, sometimes those moments are as clear as a crisp, cobalt blue sky fall day! And so it was at the San Antonio Rock 'n' Roll Marathon weekend.
God has a unique way of grabbing your attention at moments when you least expect it -- two of those times stand out in my mind from this past weekend in San Antonio.
He waited for a few minutes while I was talking to someone else. Then, when I was free he approached me and told me that he was compelled to tell me his story. Joe and I talked for quite some time and I learned that this would be his first half marathon and that he had lost 170 pounds! I was so moved by his story that I gave him a copy of my book and he also got a TEAM 413 shirt to wear on race day.
That evening I received an email from Joe. He wrote, "I came home and have read through about 7 chapters (of your book) so far, and look forward to finishing it. I am very excited about being able to wear your shirt not only during Sunday's race, but also in the gym as a ministry tool to spread the incredible change that God has made in my life and He wants to make in theirs. We did not have a lot of time to chat tonight, but one thing I tell people when sharing with them about my weight loss is that it is an exterior sign of the internal change that has taken place in me. God is great, and seeing this formerly 420+ lb. man cross the finish line will be a testament of his power to change lives." Wow! That was a strong testimony!
Then on Sunday evening I received another email from Joe. "Today was amazing for me, ran a PR for 10 miles, then unfortunately experienced some cramping. Learned a valuable lesson in electrolyte management. But, I wanted to let you know that the shirt was a real blessing to me in more than one way. The first 8 or 9 miles I may have only seen 2 of them (other TEAM 413 runners), but I received a bunch of compliments on it, and it reminded me why I was doing what I was doing. Then in the last couple miles, when I was in pain, I was surrounded by people wearing the TEAM 413 shirts and it really helped me push through to finish even though it was not the pace that I had hoped for due to calf cramping. It was a real honor to wear that shirt, and was just what I wanted while doing this. This is just one more amazing part of my testimony."
Joe is really a testimony of God's amazing grace! He made a decision to change -- to turn and go the other direction in his life. Now, he is doing things that he could have never imagined. What a blessing he will be to people who hear his story! What a blessing he is to me! God bless you, Joe!
As the crowd filled the expo on Saturday our booth became very crowded. We were talking to people from all over the country. Most of them had heard of TEAM 413 but there were others who stopped by to check us out. The day was going at a frantic pace and then time stood still as I noticed a lady pick up my book and flip through it. I asked her if I could help and she told me that she would like to get a copy -- I asked her about signing the book and who I should "personalize" the message to. She told me that it was for her son and went on to tell me that they had lost their other son and the family was running in his memory.
As we talked, I asked her how the son was doing who I was signing the book for. She went on to tell me that he was strong and that God was seeing him through the difficult times. I asked her how she was doing and, through her tears, she told me that she was doing OK. I signed the book for the son and handed it to the mom. She started to hand me money for the book but I just couldn't take it .... I told her to tell her son that this one was on me. She began to cry and her husband and I comforted her -- I promised them that I would pray for them as they ran for Taylor on Sunday.
There is no way that anyone can understand how a mom or dad feels after losing a child unless they've been there before. I could not imagine it -- But, this lady -- her husband -- and her son were standing strong for their departed loved one. They were keeping his memory alive through running this race. They were going to finish this race for him! I saw God in their eyes! I saw hope that only God could give -- I saw strength that one can only gain through Christ -- I saw joy in the knowledge that Taylor was sitting at the feet of Jesus in Heaven! I had no words -- I could not talk for a few minutes -- I was moved to tears and moved deep within my heart because these folks allowed Christ to "show through" in the midst of circumstances that I cannot comprehend. Only God's grace is sufficient for what this family is going through and I know He will see them through because of their deep faith and unstoppable love!
Before the expo opened on Friday I told someone that despite being placed in a spot in the expo that was less than desirable, that God's word would not be ignored! God would bring people our way and rock our world just like He does every weekend that we travel with TEAM 413. Looking back, I was right because I handed it over to God. People did find us -- folks did share stories of God's amazing grace -- and His word was not ignored! Living proof was all over the marathon course on Sunday -- God rocked His word all along the streets of San Antonio in celebration of His Son who rolled the rock away and lives in the hearts of many who ran under His grace and finished the race before them!
Under HIS Grace...