How running has set aflame to my faith

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The seventh post, dedicated to the most important person in my life – Jesus Christ.

*Found this article which I have wrote for Camp Empowered 2012*

We all have our own fire. When we found a new hobby, fall in love, or setting foot on new soil. Personally, my fire is running. I would be burning streets, cleaving my pleats on the asphalts, and taking pride in every mile which I clocked.

However, that kind of fire does diminish at times. Particularly when I’m tired, hungry, or not being able to hit a personal record. 

I can still remember one incident when I ran on a Sunday morning. My target for that session was doing a sub 30 minutes from Friendship Park to the Kuching Airport.

The first few kms were fine, until I reach the new airport road. Dubbed “The Alley of Agony”, this highway was built on top of a marsh land. It is straight, to a point, which then it decides to take a few curves before it reaches the junction leading to the airport.

For some runners, straight roads are one of the hardest to run on. There aren’t any landmarks which you can say to yourself, “Okay, I will sprint to that signboard and just do a slow run till that building, and start sprinting again.” Apart from a pesky little bridge, there aren’t any prominent signs which I can motivate myself. 

Or so I thought. Lo, behold the air control tower of the airport which can be seen from Agony Alley. That beacon of light. The fortress in which I will fix my eyes upon. And so I ran.

As the highway takes a dip, the tower disappears behind some nasty looking bushes along the road. Ah, it’s ok. It’s just bushes. As long as I move a few steps forward, I can see the tower again and thus my motivation still stands strong. 

However, as Agony Alley takes a curve to the right, the air control tower starts to dissipate. I can’t get off the tracks and run through the marsh field. All I could do was to keep following the road. The more I ran, the further it seems as the road does not have any indication of reverting back.

At that point of time, I was at a loss. Firstly, I am not sure if I am heading the correct direction. My beacon of hope had completely disappeared. Unlike earlier, it is not being shadowed by some bushes. Moving a step forward, or backward, won’t make any difference. The tower is completely obstructed from view.  

What was I to do? I know that if I head back, I will see the tower again, but then that would symbolise retreat. The only plausible thing to do was to take that leap of faith and just run ahead.  After what seems like an eternity, the tower starts to come to view. When it did, it was nearer than I thought it was.

Have I ran that far? Fueled by the sight, I start sprinting as it looks I can finally reached the airport in 25 minutes, shaving off 5 minutes from my original plan.

However, that pesky road took another detour as it diverts to the right again. It was so close. If I had just crossed the marsh, I will have easily reached the airport in like 5 minutes. But no, I had to sprint like tomorrow before I finally reach my destination. 

I checked my running app. 29:35. I did it. Sub 30 mins. And the taste of success is so sweet. Agony Alley has gave me an emotional wrenching experience. It really threw me off, but yet I know if it was not as agonizing as it is, I will not appreciate victory as much as I did at that moment.  

Friends, a journey with Christ is like running along that highway: 

#1 Seeing the Air Control Tower 
It’s like discovering the air control tower when you least expect to find any landmarks along Agony Alley. When we experienced Jesus for the first time, we were so full on fire.

Constantly going to Youth Gatherings, volunteering in events, enthusiastically joining different ministries all at once. That’s good. We are so ablazed with that passion to serve God. We wanna talk about how AWESOME Jesus is and we even managed to convince our friends to join us.

We feel we have finally found a purpose to live for, and that is for God alone. 

#2 Encountering Those Bushes 
Like those annoying little bushes, at times we will encounter little trials and issues that shadow God. Maybe it is times when our clients got angry at us, our friends turn against us, or when our partner has gotten bouts of severe PMS.

Just like those bushes, all we need to do is to take a few steps forward to see the light again.

When we encounter these little trials, we only have to move forward in seeing God’s amazing love again. Make an effort in praying more or just run a few more steps in faith, and we will be able to witness his everlasting glory again.

After all, one angry client does not mean you are a bad employee, or you won’t make new friends, and I’m sure your partner can’t have PMS forever. 

#3 Running the Curved Road 
Ah, this is gonna be a true test of faith. When the path you take does not seem to have an end in sight, and it appears to be that God has abandoned you, and you are all alone.

What would you do? This often happens after you reach a certain stage in your spiritual life. When that fire which had set you ablaze back then now resembles the flickering wick of a candle.

Questions like “What am I doing this for?”, “Does God even care?” or even, “I’m just wasting my time. Doing the works of God only ends up in more pain and sadness. No point lah.” 

Similar to when I start running that morning, I never thought I would end up in Agony Alley, nor will I face that very demoralizing situation. Do I give up and run back to the place, or do I take that leap of faith knowing that the air control tower is nearer than I think it is.

Though not visible, I know that if I start running despite the circumstance, I will eventually reach my goal. 

That is what we should do when we are faced with major problems. A crisis in life, loss of a loved one, or tragedies which will set your life in a whole new trajectory.

In that circumstance, we have to be reminded that we have experienced God’s love before. We were set ablaze. And that is reason enough for us to keep trusting Him. I do not know why God put us in trials.

Maybe He is testing us like how He tested Job in the Old Testaments, maybe by pulling back his graces would we seek new ways to discover more about Him, or maybe the trials are actually mercies in disguise.

But what I do know is that God does not leave us all alone despite of this.

Like the air control tower, it doesn’t mean it isn’t there when you cannot see it. And after each trial, we come out stronger. And we begin to see life in ways we have never seen before. 

The choice is ours. Do we continue to stay at where we are, blaming God for our circumstances? Do we go back and return to our old habits? Or do we continue running, moving forward and clinging to that faith that He is there with us. 

#4 Going through the Detour 
When our goal is within our grasp, God at times put us in situations that may require us to wait a while before we reach our goal. And though annoying at times, we need to remember that everything happens under Gods timing.

Even the minute you are using to read this article, it is under God’s time. He allows things to happen naturally, and if we try to rush God to do things at our pace, that feeling of reaching the goal will not be as great as you wait on Him.

I could easily rush through the marsh and reach the airport sooner than my intended goal. But I could have stepped on a piece of shrapnel, bitten by a snake or sprained my ankle on the uneven terrain.  

However, I persevered and went on the designated path and I still managed to reach my goal at my intended time. I didn’t have to sustain any mishaps along the way. In fact, that detour forced me to push past my comfort zone, and forced me to run faster and harder, and I didnt know that I could sprint like that till I encountered the detour.  

When we allow God to complete things in His time, we are bound to get something out of it. A gift or a lesson that we will never come across till we reach that juncture. 

It is good that we are ablaze with the Spirit of God, but what is more important is that flame must keep burning within us.

Instead of letting it die down like a campfire, that kind of flame must be doused with fuel of faith and fanned by our worship to Him. From the size of an inferno to the size of The Big Bang.

That is the crucial part of being set ablaze.

To not let that fire diminish, but to continue be set on fire and eventually becoming a torch for others to follow.

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