On Saturday, October 2, 2010, I ran 50 miles (24 more than I had ever run before). The race is called “Man Against Horse,” (I think the horse won:)) At the end of the race I received a belt buckle as my “trophy” for completing the race. But that is not the thing that can’t be taken away.
The race begins at the base of Mingus Mountain and winds through river beds, up long steep dirt trails, and then finally back down again. Between miles 29 and 32 there is a very steep and rocky trail ascending perhaps 2000 feet. I was doing fine through 29 miles, but then at about mile 30, in the middle of this climb, I experienced severe cramping in my legs. At first, my calves cramped and then my shins. Normally, I can stretch and keep moving, but these were cramps unlike any I have ever had! My legs seized up, and I struggled to release the cramps. It worked once or twice, but then a few steps later I was unable to free myself from them. I lay on the dirt trail calling out to God for help, for no amount of energy I had would do. I writhed in pain as my calves contorted my feet.
As I lay on the narrow path, calling out to God, I realized my race was over. Now, how could I get up the two miles to the next aid station or down to the previous one? Humanly speaking, I couldn’t.
I finally freed the cramps enough to relax in the dirt, praying for a solution. Other runners would pass me by and give me sympathetic looks, and offer to tell the people at the top that a man was down. I called my wife and told her the problem…she had been praying all day.
I don’t know how it happened, but after laying there for 30 minutes, I knew I had to get up. I heard “God’s still small voice” say, you are going to finish this race. Crazy! I couldn’t even move! I got up, and stepped with caution; praise God. I took another step, then another, then another. I was on my way, hoping to make it to the top in order to catch a ride to base camp.
At the top, the aid workers asked if I wanted to continue…”how far until the next aid station,” I asked. “Six miles,” was their response. I think I will try. At mile 38, the same question, with my response, “I think I will try.”
I crossed the finish line with 10 minutes to spare (they have a 12 hour cut-off). It was truly a miracle to me, because I know where I was physically at mile 30!
So, what can’t be taken away, you ask? That God met me in my pain and hopelessness and renewed my strength. He spoke comfort and grace, and I know that it wasn’t anything that I could have done without Him. Every step toward the finish line became a special gift for which I returned praise! God had met me personally, again, and that can’t be taken away!
How has God met you in ways that are impossible to describe? Give Him praise for the meeting, and hold it close to your heart, and be sure to share it with others…God might just use it to encourage them!
Pastor Dave (http://fbcprescottpastors.blogspot.com)