This morning while skimming Powerline, one of the blogs I check in on, I saw an article and link referring to the following New York Times article: A Runner’s Belief: God Is His Coach.
I have followed Ryan Hall to some degree for the last few years and he is a terrific runner and a caring person. He is not shy about sharing his Christian faith and he believes that his approach should be that he is a Christian who happens to run rather than a runner who happens to be a Christian.
Reading through the article I found a few quotes I wanted to highlight. However, I must say that if the article is a fair representation of his belief system and methods of Biblical interpretation, he and I would find ourselves at odds on numerous occasions. Therefore, please understand that I am not endorsing his belief system merely pointing out some great thoughts for us to ruminate upon.
“Sometimes, you have to fail your way to the top,” Hall said in his open, easy manner in March. “Thomas Edison found a thousand ways not to make a light bulb before he got it right.”
I find that often times we are afraid of failure. There are a multitude of reasons why this may be so, but nonetheless, we are. However, when we think about it, often times failure is our best teacher and helps us define our direction and find what is wrong in our methodology. Ultimately, this can lead us to success.
To this end, Hall says:
“I don’t see failure as a negative thing at all anymore, which is a huge shift for me,” he said. “I just see that as part of my training, my process, learning, experimenting, getting it wrong so that I can get it right.”
So how did Ryan get to this point? The point where he can embrace failure as a necessary means of becoming a success?
His spiritual growth, he said, has freed him from caution and a dependence on results for his happiness.
“It’s going to take a special day,” Hall said of his gold medal chances. “But I feel like I went for it, regardless of how the race goes. I’ll always look back on this as a season of joy. Sometimes it works out, and sometimes it doesn’t. That’s part of the fun of life, taking some chances and seeing what happens.”
Here he is speaking specifically about his training leading up to the Olympics and the Olympic marathon. But I love this go for broke, live on the edge approach. If I understand him correctly, he is trying to tell us that he knows God has gifted him as a runner and that he is to use that gift to bring glory to God. Further, he understands that all he is and all he has comes from God and that his ultimate satisfaction comes from God alone. Knowing who he is in God has freed him from the burden self striving, of doing it all himself, by himself. Of course he has to be a participant, his success will only come with great effort on his part. But he knows that ultimately it is about God, not him.
So what about you (and me)? In what way has God gifted you? Do you feel a burden to “be good enough” when you are using your God given abilities? Does a fear of failure hold you back from really “going for it” in some area God has put on your heart?
If you are a devoted follower of Christ who really carries the burden for your success? I am reminded of Paul’s words to the Philippians in chapter 2 verses 12-13:
Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.
This verse set me free when I was a new Christian struggling with old habits. No matter how hard I tried, I still failed. When I read this verse I realized that it would not happen by my strength and on my timetable. Instead it would happen by God’s power according to his purpose. Now please notice, you don’t get off the hook here, and neither did I. I was (and am) expected to continue working at it, and not just casually! But with great effort and seriousness.
Putting this all back into the running context where we started, how freeing it is to know that we “put in the miles” and God takes care of the results!
So, my friend, are you ready to take the plunge? Are you ready to put in the hard work and trust God with the results?
That’s part of the fun of life, taking some chances and seeing what happens.”