Sunday, June 29, 2008

BUT GOD

"My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." Psalm 73:26

SIMONE: I know you're right, Pee-wee, but...
PEE-WEE: But what? Everyone I know has a big but. C'mon, Simone, let's talk about your big but.

You gotta love Pee-Wee Herman. I had a "big but" while running the Kona Marathon, but God had a bigger one.

Before I went to sleep Saturday night and again before the race Sunday morning, I prayed that God would give me the strength, courage and health to finish the marathon. Of course God never answers prayer the way we think he will. I was expecting an easy race but God had other plans.

The first 10 miles were going well. I was running 10 minute miles (my race goal) and I was in zone 2 most of the way. My bad knee was giving me some problems but I was managing. Then came that incline. You know that one on Queen K. The one just past Hina-Lani that runs all the way up to the Natural Energy Lab road. You don't even notice it on the bike, but on the marathon, at least for me, it was a monster.

By mile 12, my right knee was popping out of joint (I have a torn ACL and a loose meniscus) my feet were exploding with pain with every step and my right hip felt dislocated — I wanted to quit.

I was hurting. I was frustrated and disappointed. I was getting mad at myself and God. I found myself arguing with God. Wondering why he hadn't answered my prayers. I wanted to give up. I was done.

At mile 13.5, just after the turn around I was nearly passing out. I tried walking, but that made it worse. I nearly threw up. I knew I was probably dehydrated. At the next aid station I drank several cups of sports drink and rinsed off under the showers.

I said a quick prayer, "God, I know you are trying to teach me something here. Is it humility? Do you want me to quit? Is that it? I can't go on, God," I said nearly crying.

And I felt God was telling me, "BUT aren't you moving forward even now?"

"But God, it hurts so much when I run."

"BUT you CAN run, can't you?" I heard that inner voice say.

By mile 18 I was really hurting. I stopped running and started walking. By then my quads were screaming, I had pulled a groan muscle and my stomach was growling.

"God, I have to quit now, I can barely walk. This is humiliating," I prayed.

"BUT at least you CAN walk," that inner voice whispered.

So for the next few miles I would walk, then try to run, then walk again. I just kept trying not to stop.

Then that quote from Karen's blog popped into my head. The one that said something like, "If you can't run, walk. If you can't walk, crawl. Just keep moving forward."

So I prayed real quick, "God, have mercy and PLEASE don't make me crawl. I get what you are trying to teach me, to be content in the moment ... give thanks in all circumstances ... the joy of the Lord is my strength. Right?"

"No?" I heard that quiet voice say.

Then that verse from Hebrews popped into my head, "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." And immediately I was humbled. Christ had endured so much more than what I was going through. The pain and embarrassment I was experiencing was nothing in the grand scheme of things.

By the time I was on Alii Drive, I was sure I was going to be crawling soon. I considered covering my race number so the tourists by the pier and the people in the restaurants wouldn't know I was in the race. But I decided against it. I concentrated on bible verses. And honestly, "But God" verses are my favorites. For every excuse we come up with God always seems to be there to say, "But."

"But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved). Ephesians 2:4-5

The last 4 miles dragged on and on. My feet hurt so bad it was pure torture. I thought about seeing Karen's smiling face at the finish line. I thought about Rebecca completing her first road race and hoped she had fun and was able to finish. With a quarter mile to go I could see Karen and Rebecca at the entrance to the hotel. I was hobbling more than running. But I WAS hobbling. I learned my lesson, no buts about it.

For the first time in a lot of miles I smiled. I waved to them. Some people on the side of the road were clapping and cheering. Karen was taking my picture and her and Rebecca were cheering. I turned into the resort. Ah, the finish chute. A woman was cheering me on in Japanese. I thought of Bree at Ironman Japan. "So that's what it was like there, huh?"

I tried to sprint down to the finish line but I had nothing left. I wanted to raise my hands in victory as I crossed the line, but I was too embarrassed and way too tired. I had just completed another one of those "must-do's." And, just to show that God has an odd sense of humor, I finished this marathon in the same time, to the minute, as it took me to do all of Honu. See the video on the previous post and look at the clock and compare it with the Honu finishing photo on the side rail. About 20 seconds differents, go figure!

Here are some of my favorite "But God" verses that I tried to recite during those last 5 miles when the pain and fatigue were so overwhelming and God wouldn't let me give up: (of course I couldn't remember them exactly like this, but I would try to get the general idea.)

But God will redeem my life from the grave; he will surely take me to himself. Psalm 49:15

But God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer. Psalm 66:19

But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. Acts 2:24

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

This one is one of my favorite verses ever. It's not specifically a "But God" verse, it's a "But You" verse.

... nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. 1 Corinthians 6:10-12

Now those are some big buts ...

6 comments:

Bruce Stewart (施樸樂) (ブルース・スチュワート) said...

I also took a little over 6.5 hours to do the marathon in the Ironman I completed. I really felt ashamed and embarrassed. Those people wheeling their bikes home as I ran up Alii Drive early in the run must have wanted who this jerk was who was doing the Ironman. Still, I think we are mainly out to prove what we can do ourselves as opposed to how many hours we are behind Bree. For every you or Bree, there are probably a million people who could not even run the first mile. I hope you heal up. Maybe if I ever make it back again to Kona, we should plan to do the run again. We can surely learn from it.

debbie said...

Randy , Great Story, I could feel every step with you. You are so gifted . I am very glad for you that you were able to finish and with such a remarkable time. What's next?
Hopefullly you will relax for a while and heal your sore muscles. Hope you all have a fantastic 4th of July weekend.

BreeWee said...

Randy I am almost in tears. I love this post, I love what you learned and what God did with you... you had a GREAT race, no, not the one you wanted but we never really get what we want in life right? We get what we NEED. Sounds like God and you needed a long chat, a 6.5 hr chat.

I am so proud of you. Really proud of you. I have a short video and some photos (2 of Becca racing) that I need to email you, I lost your email (again!) when you get a chance send me it and I will email you some more memories of the long chat with God you had!

Thank you for posting such a humbling, honest post, this is real life. GLAD to call you friend! AND your verses are super!

LeAnn said...

Hey what happened to my LONG post. Oh well. Lost in cyberspace.

I cried the whole time I read your blog. Not because of your grueling run, btw, congratulations again, but how much He loves us...depite our pain, our circumstances, our conditions...But God. Good stuff.

So how are you feelin' today? Its Tuesday so I think you're feeling slightly worse than yesterday?

Brooke Myers said...

Congratulations on your day out there... it's not about the time within your finish, but the fact you went out there and gave it your all... what an accomplishment!!

TB said...

I love this post!

Well done!

Well said!

Very inspiring!

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