Praise God we can run!
I returned to Highland Sky for a third time after a one year hiatus as last year’s run was on the day of my eldest daughter’s high school graduation. I greatly enjoyed the chance to be in WV for another ultra run. . .my seventh in the Mountain State, each one an exceptional experience. I was especially pleased to have my wife and our daughters with me for the first time; how cool to share WV’s beauty with them directly.
One of the surprising blessings of my ultra running has been the growth and clarification of my faith. I am trying to be more intentional in this area and have found focusing on scripture an effective way to build on that. Heading into Highland Sky week, I thought I would start with Psalm 40 for 40 miles. . .the entire Psalm is incredibly beautiful – the opening verses read:
Psalm 40: 1-3 (New Living Translation, NLT)
1 I waited patiently for the Lord to help me,
and he turned to me and heard my cry.
2 He lifted me out of the pit of despair,
out of the mud and the mire.
He set my feet on solid ground
and steadied me as I walked along.
3 He has given me a new song to sing,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see what he has done and be amazed.
They will put their trust in the Lord.
Highland Sky is spectacular – awesome people and stunning natural beauty along with the challenge of covering 40+ miles over some difficult terrain. I learned a painful lesson here in 2010 when I outran my fitness in the first half of the course and was reduced to walking most of the last 13 miles because a running stride brought immediate knots to my calves. I was smarter this year; I respected the distance and stayed within myself, so I could move steadily throughout. Together, a wiser approach, perfect weather, and seeing my girls at AS #4 and at the finish made for an enjoyable experience. I was also buoyed by the chance to reconnect with people met in brief encounters in our trail running, but who I am privileged to consider friends and superb examples of initiative and encouragement; men like Dan Lehmann, Adam Casseday, and Matt Young . I was very excited to see Adam and Matt run so well.
As I considered what to share about my Highland Sky experience, two words, inseparable twins really, seemed most appropriate: Humility and Gratitude.
Humbled by the legacy of those who worked so hard to make this land, wonderful, yes, but wild, not at all tame, habitable; grateful for the resources that allow me to experience it as a form of leisure. I am also grateful that Dan honors the history of this area in how he plans and conducts Highland Sky.
Humbled to recognize so clearly my need for a Savior, knowing as the poet has said, “too dark ye cannot paint my sin, too small my merit show”; grateful that my need is satisfied completely in Christ Jesus. Romans 5:6 (NLT) 6 When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.
Humbled by the magnificence of God’s creation, His power and glory so evident, but too vast to fully comprehend; grateful that His grace and mercy overwhelms my limitations. I find this passage from the Book of Acts convicting:
Acts 17:22-29 (NLT) 22 So Paul, standing before the council,[e] addressed them as follows: “Men of Athens, I notice that you are very religious in every way, 23 for as I was walking along I saw your many shrines. And one of your altars had this inscription on it: ‘To an Unknown God.’ This God, whom you worship without knowing, is the one I’m telling you about.
24 “He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since he is Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn’t live in man-made temples, 25 and human hands can’t serve his needs—for he has no needs. He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need. 26 From one man[f] he created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall and he determined their boundaries.
27 “His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us. 28 For in him we live and move and exist. As some of your [g] own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ 29 And since this is true, we shouldn’t think of God as an idol designed by craftsmen from gold or silver or stone.
My sincere thanks to Dan and the many volunteers who make Highland Sky possible each year. Your kindness in serving is truly appreciated. May God bless and keep you always.
I look forward to the opportunity to see you on the trails again.
Author: Bob Hagan
Bible passages from http://www.biblegateway.com