The First Run for God Race

This weekend was the seventh running of the Run for God Run at the Mill. It was a great day with runners coming from all over the country filling the country roads of northern Whitfield County. God put an exclamation point on the day when the last runner came down the hill toward the finish line. We always gather everyone to the finish line for the last finisher, but this race was special. It turned out that the last finishers, a group of three, contained a rather small-statured person in the middle. We had a three year-old girl finishing a 10K! Of course, that just made the cheers even louder as the adults backed off and let the little girl have the spotlight. It was awesome!

As I said, this was the seventh time we ran this particular race and we have hosted many other races in the last seven years, but the first Run for God happened way before Mitchell Hollis ever created the concept. Pastor Charlie Bridges talked about the first Run for God before the races began. John 20:1-2 says, ”Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. Then she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.” Mary ran to the disciples.

The disciples responded in verses 3-9, “Peter therefore went out, and the other disciple, and were going to the tomb. So they both ran together, and the other disciple outran Peter and came to the tomb first. And he, stooping down and looking in, saw the linen cloths lying there; yet he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there, and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed. For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead.”

They ran to the tomb, and John indicates that this may have been the first race! The first Run for God participants were Mary Magdalene, Peter and John. And then comes the greatest part of the story when they find out that He has risen and is alive. It changed their lives forever.

Today, we run or walk for various reasons. Some of us do it for weight control, while others like the feeling of being more fit. Some just want to be more healthy in general and others like the thrill of competition. Whatever the reason, it’s important to understand that God gave us running for all of those reasons and much more.

But, our most important run of all is when we emulate Peter and John and run towards Jesus. The difference is that we know He is alive. We have the luxury of knowing what He has done and the hindsight of all of the Biblical writers. How about you? We’re all running in one way or another. The question is, are you running towards Jesus or away from Him? There’s no place like the safety and comfort of His arms! It will change your life forever.


Knowledge or Relationship

This past Saturday we hosted the 7th Annual Run for God – Run at the Mill in Dalton, GA. This 5K, 10K, and Half Marathon was the first event we ever hosted, and is, to this day one of my favorite events. Maybe it’s the onset of spring, the fact that it’s close to my home, or that we’ve always been blessed with perfect weather, but I always look forward to race day at The Mill!

Last year at this race I began doing something different during our pre-race announcement, prayer, and National Anthem ceremony. I began to simply pose the question, “Do you know where you would spend eternity should you leave this earth today?” As you may already know, the Lord has really been pushing me outside my comfort zone when it comes to evangelism, and posing this question in front of hundreds of people was about as far removed from my comfort zone as you can get.

This year, the Lord laid on my heart something a little different, and He did this the night before the race. On race morning as I took the stage, I told the crowd that I’d like to introduce someone very special to them. I asked my pastor Charlie Bridges to join me as I formally introduced him to everyone. I explained that Charlie was my pastor, my friend, and one of my mentors. I went on to explain to everyone that there is no other way that I would introduce Charlie. I’d never say this is Charlie Bridges from Grove Level Baptist Church. I’d never say this is Charlie Bridges, the husband of Lynn Bridges. And I’d never say this is Charlie Bridges the guy who drives a white Chevrolet. No, I would only introduce Charlie as my friend or my pastor.

How I introduce Charlie matters. The pastor of Grove Level, the husband of Lynn, and the guy who drives a Chevy, all indicate that I know who Charlie is. But the fact that I describe Charlie as my pastor and my friend indicates a relationship.

Over 2000 years ago a very similar conversation took place. It took place as Jesus was talking with His disciples. He asked them “Who do men say that I am?” They began telling Him about all the rumors and who people were saying that He was. Then Jesus looked at Peter and asked what could be considered the most important question in the history of the world. He asked Peter, “Who do YOU say that I AM?”

So why is this question so important as it pertains to Jesus? Because, here again, how we describe who Jesus is matters! I’ve heard people describe Jesus/God in many ways. A supreme being, the creator, all knowing, the “Man” in the Good Book, JC, and many others. But none of those indicates a relationship. I’m always comforted when I hear people say things like my Father, my Savior, or my Everything because this indicates a relationship with Jesus Christ in the same way that me introducing Charlie as my pastor/friend indicates a relationship with him.

Who do you say that Jesus is? The answer to this question has eternal consequences.

Have a great day everyone.