Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you . . . for in my wrath I struck you, but in my favor I have had mercy on you. Isaiah 60:1,10
Yesterday at 9:45AM, I ran under the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis while running the Twin Cities Marathon with my son. This was a significant event to me, because four years ago, at the exact same time, I was in the same geographical location, only I was riding in the back of a van, over the I-35W bridge, with a group of addicts. In treatment for my own chemical dependency problem, we were headed to church. As we drove over the bridge that Sunday, I watched the marathon pass below.
That moment, four years ago, was a painful reminder of how low I had sunk. My life was a disaster. At the time, I couldn’t imagine ever running the marathon with my son, with my wife and daughter waiting at the finish line. My career was over, and my marriage was in shambles. Nothing was ever going to be right again. It’s hard, when at the bottom, to believe things are ever going to get better.
At mile 18 yesterday, during the race, I told this story to my son. With tears in my eyes, I told him what it meant to run that race with him. It felt amazing. It felt like redemption.
I’m hesitant to write this story, because I don’t want it to be about me running a marathon. I need to write it though, because ultimately, this isn’t about me. It’s about what Christ has done for me. That’s the real story.
I followed me, and I found disaster. In my disaster, I realized my need to abandon me to follow Jesus Christ. I do not do it perfectly. I have made significant mistakes since then and I expect more mistakes to come. I won’t insist that God irons out every wrinkle or that we won’t experience trials when we follow him. I’ll simply insist that when we stop causing our own disasters and when we follow Christ, he grows his life, joy, and peace in us.
It’s hard, when at the bottom, to see any hope in the future. I know what some of you have lost, so I don’t want to be insensitive, but I absolutely believe that in following Jesus Christ, we can find life and light yet in this world. No matter how low we are, we can always turn to him. In him, we’ll always find mercy, grace, and love and we can rise again.