So about four weeks ago me and some friend’s began running.
Well, let’s clarify this a little… I’d already been in running-mode for this year and been getting into a weekly routine… But about four weeks ago me and a few friends of mine made the commitment that we would begin running TOGETHER three times a week.
We are THAT cool.
There’s quite a long story about the reasons why this commitment to running and to each other came about… But to simplify that by about an hour, I’ll just say that one particular friend of mine needs to get just a little-bit-healthier this year.
And by a-little-bit-healthier I actually mean a heck-of-a-lot-healthier.
And because it’s really and truly difficult to do that by yourself, we decided to do it with him.
So three mornings a week I head from my house to my friends’ hostel.
(Two of my friend’s own the place and another two work and stay there).
When I arrive, it’s pretty much a guarantee that the guys will still be sleeping. So the first thing I actually do is a loud-bang-on-the-staff-bedroom-door-wake-up-call. Sometimes with music. Sometimes with shouting.
And then five minutes later we start running.
Wake up. Run. Keep running.
We run for about 40 minutes. And then we head back to said-hostel to make and eat breakfast together before I head to work.
It’s actually a pretty fabulous way to start the day.
Good weather. Good running. Good people. Good food. Good laughter.
It’s possibly the most fun I’ve ever had helping someone get healthy.
Encouraging the best in someone by… Doing nothing more than encouraging and loving them.
And the thing is, I was talking with one of my friend’s the other day. About this idea. About how you bring out the best in other people.
Because I think what I used to do, albeit with the best intentions, was be a bit critical of others in the hope that it would help them.
Seriously, I think we often do this.
Like, if my friend was unhealthy, I might have said, ‘You shouldn’t eat that. You shouldn’t do that. You should change because you’re so unhealthy!’
And I would have said that with my words, and even with my good intentions, and hoped that it would change something.
And it almost never-ever would.
And so I was talking with my friend about my own personal journey of doing life with people. And about how I’ve changed, and how I pray I keep changing.
The fundamental change is that rather than criticise with my words, I always want to try and encourage with my words. Encourage the good. Know that it’s my kindness and my love that brings out the best in others. And actually get into the running with people in this journey of life.
I’m not saying we don’t confront things. There’s a time and a place. But I’m talking about the difference between telling someone what they probably already know is a problem, and loving them into running for the solution.
Most people can already tell you their weaknesses. What they can’t do is have the faith that there’s a way to change.
So what they really and desperately need is someone who can look at them with eyes of faith and feet ready to run with them.
And for me, that’s the way that I see the Holy Spirit deal so beautifully with my heart.
It’s God’s kindness that leads me to repentance.
It’s His kindness that leads me to change.
There are so many characteristics of our eternal God. There are so many faucets to His boundless, perfect character. And yet, it’s His kindness that is the word the Bible chooses to describe our being lead to change.
This is Jesus, sacrificing in His life and His death, doing everything to be close to us, pursuing us when we were at our furthest and loving us with a love so strong that it defeats our sin and our shame and our secrets.
This is God telling us that there’s nothing we could do that would change His mind about us.
This is a love that pursues us into holiness.
God’s kindness towards us is insurmountable. It is incredible.
And so, I’ve been praying recently, and actually this last year, that above all… God would change my heart and make it one of kindness.
That it wouldn’t be my nagging, or my criticising, or my chastising that brings about a change in others… But my kindness.
So this morning. Thankful heart overflowing. I spent some time with God reading Jeremiah over an oversized cup of earl grey tea. I was completely floored all-over-again by Jeremiah 31. I mean, those words. Are stunningly-mind-blowingly-spirit-shakingly-awesome.
God told them, ‘I’ve never quit loving you and never will…’
God tells us that same thing.
That in all our rebellion and all our messiness and all our failures, His love never quits. That in our desire for all the wrong things His kindness leads us to repentance. That when we’re in the wilderness desperately searching for a place of rest, we meet God out looking for us. That there is greater restoration than our hearts know or our minds can understand. That He has made a way where there seemed to be none and that Jesus has done everything to be close to us.
So I’m gonna keep running to healthiness. But I also want to keep running to holiness.
With the people that I love with everything I am.
(And here’s a great photo from one of our first runs… Haha!)