Yes... Yes, I did.
I go for runs all the time in my city (which is perfect for it - with over 90 miles of beautiful golf cart paths you can run on). And I have a new goal of being more active, so I have been taking advantage of them a little bit recently. But today I decided to run a little further (instead of faster). And I did one thing that made me think.... btw, you can learn a LOT when you're just out for a jog! I didn't realize there were so many things around me that had something in them to learn from, if you just take the time to think about them.
Before I tell you what I did that started the whole brain exercise off, I'll just tell you that I'm just going to write my thoughts down as they come... they'll probably be very short, and most likely require you to think a little bit to know where I'm going. ;) JUST a disclaimer! :D
So the thing that happened was this - I tried to crack my neck while I was running.
Sounds fun, right? Haha! Well.... I crack my neck frequently (especially when I'm working out... it just gets cramped, and ready for some popping. ;)), so that's not something abnormal for me to do. But I made this observation while doing it - You can really stagger around like you're drunk if you're running with your head sideways! :D
The body follows the head. Christ is the head of the Church. Fathers are heads of their households. Husbands are heads of their wives. When I was running, and I twisted my head a little bit, my body naturally turned with my head! How many of you are able to run one way and turn your head the other way? It's hard (if it's even possible!). There are so many points you can make off this one point... But I'll move on.
Then I ran further and while I was thinking about that, I ran off the side of the path a couple times... making me thankful that I have strong ankles! But then I realized... The head is in charge, but the rest of the body is just as important! The body of Christ... just read 1 Corinthians 12:12-26! Husbands are supposed to love their wives as their own bodies.... etc. If there weren't other parts of the body with the head, the head wouldn't be able to do anything!!! So, the body naturally follows the head, and the head can only work with the rest of the body... so far so good...
Now, I sorta switched gears here (I'm sorry, but it's just coming out as I thought about it). But as I thought more and more, I thought of life as a race. Maybe not a race (since I wasn't trying to beat anyone), but more like a course... When I left the house, I went out with a route in mind. The route didn't change, but as I ran along, I found myself running to smaller goals (just make it to the lake... okay, now make it to the other lake), and I thought... We all know where we're going after we run the course - Home - but we also can get too focused on the short term that we don't plan for the longer run. I had to pace myself if I wanted to make it home! Make short-term goals for sure, but don't let that be a reason to forget the long run... your short-term goals should always help your long-term goals.
Then, as I ran further, I ran past one guy I've been "friends" with for about 5 years... I say "friends" because we've never talked to each other before... we're usually both working out or on our way to do something, but he has one of the most catching smiles around! He always smiles when he sees me coming. :D I make sure I wave to him and encourage him on as well! I also passed another guy (about my age, running as well, and wearing almost the same stuff I was), and I gave him a "thumbs-up" sign as we passed. He looked at me, smiled, and signed back. :) Encourage others. Your friends may come in a variety of ways, but they're all placed there by God for however long He chooses. Make the most of every opportunity. I really appreciate the random happiness among some Southerners. :)
It started raining after I passed that guy. I kept running, and it felt so good. Rain, sun, wind, clouds? Life isn't about waiting out the storm, it's about learning to dance in the rain. Favorite quote of mine right there. But it's so true! God doesn't call us to sit on the sidelines when things are getting tough! Have you ever seen the dedication of some guys who are playing Football?!? They'll get out there in the worst of storms, and they'll keep at it until the lights go out! We need to bless God when He sends his blessing as well as when He withholds it.
Then I passed some other people... about 3 of them were smoking (one had a huge cigar... Whew! Hadn't smelled that in a while. :P And the other two were teens smoking... something not good). Your sins affect others! Even if you think it may not be a problem, you are affecting yourself negatively, and most likely affecting others in the same way! (I recently listened to a sermon that talked about your sins affecting others, so this analogy might be stretching it... but I made the connection in my mind, and it helped to cement it in, for me at least) As I was running, I found the smell to be offensive. Others may be more accustomed to that smell, but it's the same with sin... We should find it offensive. And some of us are more hardened to it (great thing though, God came to heal the sick, he saves the worst of sinners to show how mighty His power and how amazing His grace is!).
At this point in my run, I experienced a cramp. I get cramps while running all the time, and they force me to slow down. But here's the deal - As we're going through this life, God doesn't say there won't be any pain! There WILL be pain! Unless you're taking the course so slow that there is no pain at all. (now, runners, I'm not saying pain is good... this is all just an analogy. My thoughts. So take them with a grain of salt).
People passed me... there were golf carts and other runners... and some people that were kinda not really all there (if you know what I mean). People going the other way... A lot of people. I found myself running faster when either a golf cart passed me, or I was in a more popular area... that actually partly led to my cramp, was going too fast instead of pacing myself like I should have. And I had this thought - We can go through life watching others and pushing ourselves to meet their expectations of us, or we can go according to the design God has planned out for us, no matter what others think. They can look at you, but who cares if they're watching you go slower?!? God always has the best plan... I would have gotten more out of my run if I had kept it steady and not sped up and gotten that cramp!
Well... As I neared my home, things started hurting more (I'm too young to be drawing this analogy from experience, but I've listened and learned from those who have), but as you get older, things start to creak. And I mean no disrespect at all to my elders! It happens to everyone who gets there. I'm sure I'll probably hurt the worst, based off of how well I've kept myself over the years. But anyways, I had to take it even slower then (I had gotten over the cramp and started running again, like any soldier would do - fall and rise again), because I can't risk not finishing the course just to try and be as manly as possible. But it's funny, all this time while running, I had my headphones in and was listening to music (it's only sort of hard to think while listening to music... :D But God gets across what He wants to get across, no matter the circumstance), but anyways, a song came on. A song that reminds me of my older sister's wedding. In my mind, I've attached it to that day, and honestly - it describes it almost perfectly. Songs can hold emotions in them - you hear certain ones and think of certain things. It's natural to do that (here's the song in case you wanted to hear it, just listening to it now, and I'm getting those feelings [trying not to cry. xD]. Gold Forever). Here's my point - Memories are amazing things. You can remember people, places, days, sounds, smells, and more. When God reminds brings something to your remembrance like that, you can praise Him for letting you remember His greatness in your life! I'm praising God right now, my sister has a baby on the way (due in TWO MONTHS!!!!!! :D), and her and her husband are amazing examples to me of a young, Godly couple. I thank God for letting me hear that song and remembering them. :)
Last point. I'm almost done. I'm tired, nearing home, my course is almost finished... I'm thinking about all the things that made this run memorable, and I get to the door. And I realized something. All this time, the only thing I took with me the whole way was my cell-phone! I thought about that for a little bit. Some of you may know that I recently bought a car from my awesome Grandpa, and I keep "climbing the ladder" at work and in other realms - hoping some day to provide for a family, help others, etc... But when I got home, I realized that all I wanted was some rest, and to get inside my home, I couldn't take my car in with me! All along this run, I had a means of communication with someone who would come pick me up if I inured myself... We are able to talk with God all the time! Sometimes we forget that we are holding a "cell phone" and that we need to be using it. I like to think of it as a bluetooth - constant communication. ;) And this other thought - We have to leave it all at the door. (Matthew 19:16-26, anyone?) But as I look outside in my mind's eye (it's too dark to see out there literally), and imagine my "new" car out in the driveway, I know that it's not there as something to focus on, but rather as a tool that God has given me to use in His service and for His glory.
I think that's all for now. I know I had a lot of other thoughts, but those were the main ones. ;) You know what? If you're still reading this - I admire your perseverance!!! =D It's always different reading something than writing it, so I hope it's not too bad on your end (and I'll tell you something, aside from the occasional backspace as I've been writing, I haven't gone over it to edit it... kinda scary. O.o But since I'm not editing it, you get it as it comes straight out of my brain. xD).
Whenever and wherever this finds you (or you find this, as the case probably is), I hope you are having a blessed day! May God be with you as you endeavor to run the course set before you. I'm always praying for you and all the saints (Ephesians 6:18). :)