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Looking for God’s pleasure

Mentally preparing to soon begin training for another marathon (my poor training means in actuality it will be a half-marathon), I often think of the Eric Liddell quote “When I run, I feel God’s pleasure.” As soon as that thought bubble dissipates, the next one to appear is my own quote, “On this issue, Eric Liddell was an idiot.”

I enjoy running. But I don’t think I have ever described it as “pleasure.” I wish I had the perspective of Eric Liddell. I would even settle for the perspective of my dog Fledge, who usually has a “HEY LOOK! I’M RUNNING!!! WHEEEEEEEEE!!!” expression on his face.

I do admire Eric’s enjoyment of running. It is a commentary on my own character, and not his, that I do not share his thoughts. But he was exactly right. Not just about running either. He was right about God’s pleasure. This may not have been what he intended, but he was still very much correct. From the above quote, replace the word “run.”

-When I pray, I feel God’s pleasure.

-When I give, I feel God’s pleasure.

-When I sing praises to Him, I feel God’s pleasure.

-When I show love to others, I feel God’s pleasure.

-When I’m doing a good deed, I feel God’s pleasure.

Not too difficult to figure out how God’s pleasure is at work in those instances. What about these?

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Covering great distances

It seems I am repeatedly, throughout every day, thinking about the word distance. If I’m not just thinking about it, I am planning for distance, or traveling some distance, or attempting to craft ways to either eliminate or shorten distance. There are three arenas that distance perpetually appear in my thinking.

First, I have the privilege of coaching the cross country team at North River School just down the road from us. The junior high team runs 1.5 mile races, while the high school team runs 3 mile races. Part of my responsibility as coach is to get my team to the point where they can cover those distances. Somehow though, my team is surprised when I tell them how far they will be running in practice on any given day – I have to remind them that: a. cross country is a running sport, and b. running two laps on the track is insufficient to get them ready for meets. Instead, we need to run longer distances. So far, we have topped out at 4 miles, but I’m hopeful by the end of the season that we will get in one long run a week of 8-10 miles. For those of you wondering, yes, I do run with my team, though I am tempted to coach them running on the road from the comfort and ease of my vehicle.

The second arena that distance is becomes a considerable thought is everyday life. As a reminder, we are in a fairly remote part of the country. Certainly there are other places far more remote, but for two raised-in-the-city-with-every-convenience-within-minutes-of-us folks like myself and the beautiful bride, this is remote, nearing isolation. From our driveway, it is 18 miles to a grocery store. 16 miles to a gas station. Three miles to a visible cell tower (the tower is still far off – three miles is the distance from our home before you can actually see it) – that makes sending and receiving calls a challenge. Some of you might be aghast to know that we are 19 miles from a Starbucks. We are around 60 miles from Target or Costco. When we run out of things, we have to think whether our need for that thing is greater than the distance we would need to travel to get that thing. More times than not, we choose to go without that thing. That was a hard adjustment for the guy who used to be able to walk to Fred Meyer at 10:30 at night to get the needed thing, and be done getting it by the time the store closed at 11. Our remote location has often caused me to wonder – what would happen if I ordered a pizza to be delivered to us? Would they even come? If they did, would my pizza still be warm? Would the delivery fee be twice the amount of the pizza? I may test this one day. Stay tuned.

Some days, thinking about either arena of those distances is an unpleasant task.

“Do I really have to run this far?”

“Why can’t somebody have enough vision to put a gas station closer to us?”

“If we go into town for that needed thing, we might as well get the rest of all our needed things, and that is going to take us all day.”

“How hard is it to put up a cell tower?”

I’m not proud of having those thoughts, just telling you what the thoughts are. Usually though, those thoughts diminish with two other thoughts.

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