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The middle third


On Saturday I had the privilege of walking 3.1 miles in the First Annual Defiance, Ohio Stephen Siller Tunnel To Towers 5 K.  If you are interested in the foundation, the cause, and the event you can read more here.  It was a fun event, 3.1 miles – full turnout gear – and an air pack.  There were folks along the route to cheer the participants on, it was a good cause, plus there was a reward at the end, prizes, friends, fun, and being finished.

Mile 1 was fun, bagpipers, a tunnel created by fire engines from all over a two county area, people talking, laughing, joking, the weight of my turnout gear and air pack weren’t even noticeable on my back.  The last 1/2 mile wasn’t too bad – those who were running were finished and gathered at the finish line, the Defiance and the Bryan Fire Departments had set up their Towers with a huge American flag hanging between them, it was inspirational and with the finish in sight the heat, thirst, and weight were not very bad at all.  It was that middle part of the journey where the air pack felt like the weight of the world, shoulders ached, feet hurt, sweat poured off of me, my helmet felt like it weighed a ton.  It was hard to find motivation.

As I sit here today I am reflecting on that event, not about the physical part of it, but how that event is a reflection of many of our lives of faith.  When we first hear that Word of grace and realize that God does love us there is this amazing joy, excitement, enthusiasm.  We want more, Bible Study, Worship, Praise, Prayer and the list goes on.  We tell our friends, we tell our family, we talk to God like He is a long lost friend.

As I have the honor as a Pastor of being invited to journey with people as their lives end I get to experience that end of the race feeling, the end is near, family and friends surround them, support them, cheer for them, encourage them, give them permission to go.  God is so near to many that they can reach out and touch Him.  They speak of their faith with such clarity and wisdom, it always touches my heart.

It’s that middle third that gives us trouble.  Our faith ebbs and flows, the Church angers or disappoints us, we have prayers we believe are not heard or answered, the weight of the world falls squarely on our shoulders, our hearts hurt, our lives become a burden and our faith feels foreign and far away.

I learned something yesterday and I think it applies to faith as well – in the middle third, I need fellow walkers.  Yesterday I walked the first mile by myself in quiet, I walked the last mile by myself – taking it all in, in the middle third – I found friends, other walkers, fellow pilgrims and we shared support, sweat, conversation and laughs.  We carried one another.

In it’s best form, that is one of the missions of The Church – to help surround us with so great a cloud of witnesses that we have fellow pilgrims to journey with those tough times, those times of hard work and lots of sweat.   Yesterday, the middle third was hard work, today – looking back, the middle third was the most rewarding – in your journey, enjoy the middle third.


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