When I got home with the breakfast I'd set out for, my wife asked me what took so long. I told her about the runners and their sweat and the looks of near death experiences they carried with them. She asked me what I thought they were doing. Since we lived so close to the local college, I told her I thought it was possible they'd been forced into a hazing gone terribly wrong. Most of the runners looked to be older than college students, though, so I ruled that out.
My wife, never one to be left wondering, began doing some research. Within seconds she informed me it was a road race and what I'd witnessed was the finish of the Patrick Henry Half Marathon. I wasn't a running expert, but I knew a marathon was 26+ miles. Some quick math and I realized I'd encountered people nearing the end of running 13 miles in weather that kept even the ice cream man barricaded inside his house.
I lost myself in the lunacy of it all for a moment and then confidently declared to my wife: "those people are crazy."
But that was then and this is now. And what I'm here to declare now is nothing makes the world seem instantly sane more than your own dalliance with insanity. Because this Saturday, 8 years later, I'll be running by the entrance of our neighborhood in the Patrick Henry Half Marathon myself. My real life version of be careful who you call crazy lest you become crazy yourself. And a note in advance to the poor souls who will undoubtedly be held up by our friendly law enforcement personnel in order that I might pass slowly and safely by: put a good audio book in. You're going to be there awhile.
Through it all, I've come to realize this is a part of a greater plan.
Yes, it's part of a training plan to get me ready for my first full marathon this November. And yes, it's part of a plan to collect half-marathon medals from across the country. (This will be my 4th, albeit from hardly a remote part of the country). More than both of those motivations, though, I've come to honor these races as part of God's plan. Believe me, there is no other reasonable explanation for me to spend a scorching late August Saturday morning hoofing my 230 pound frame around the hot and hilly back roads of Hanover County, Virginia. Absolutely none.
But 2 1/2 years ago now, a young runner in our community, Meg Cross Menzies, was killed by a drunk driver. Her young life was taken just as she'd begun to fully enjoy the riches of being a Christian mom of 3 young children. Additionally, she'd begun reaching her full potential as an accomplished runner. (She was on a training run for the Boston Marathon when she was struck and killed). In the aftermath of her death, runners from around the world began running to honor her memory. Today, some 31 months later, they remain as committed as ever to keeping her loving legacy and running career alive as they run under the banner of Megsmiles.
So I do my part. I run for Meg because Meg ran for Him. Every step for her is a step for our Father - every draining mile a chance to become more firm in my stand for the promise that when we live our lives faithful to God's call, our lives live on. Both on this earth and beyond. So this Saturday, Meg, what I once saw as crazy - I now see as sane. What was once inconvenient, I now see as opportunity. Although I and all others associated with Megsmiles would trade that opportunity for Meg's family to have her back, I'm grateful that through Meg we've gotten just a little better at finding the good in ourselves, and collectively sharing it with the world.