No really. Today, I was discipled while running.
Here's some back story.
Waterlogged or Refreshed?
This week some men and women from our church watched and processed as much as we could from the Verge Conference in Austin. We joked that it was a lot like drinking from a fire hydrant -- too much to comprehend for one short weekend. And even if we could grasp everything that was taught, a two-day conference can barely scratch the surface of what it means to give our lives to glorifying God by making disciples.
That's why I need to remember the weekend as less like a fire hydrant, and more like breathing. Sure, it was a big breath. But as I listened and reflected on God's plan for discipleship, I realized that no matter how deeply I inhaled, there was plenty of growing left for the next breath. I have a lot to learn about discipleship. And this isn't a bad thing, either. It's just the truth.
Now, back to the story.
I also have a lot to learn about running. I'm pretty out of shape. This is probably a bad thing. But at least today, I ran. And here's why: Tim Senecal, a neighbor of mine, agreed to run with me. Tim is a friend, a police officer, a member of our church and my Missional Community. Tim is in a LOT better shape than I am. Still, he ran with me.
For him, it probably felt more like a trot, but graciously he ran with me, not ahead of me. He slowed down. He walked with me when I needed to walk. He didn't balk at me, or push me. When we stopped, I was pleased to look up and see that he was winded too (though probably not as comically red-faced as I was). As a result, I ran further than I would have without him. Honestly, I probably wouldn't have run at all had he not called.
Discipleship as Association
What a friend! And what a beautiful picture of discipleship! This weekend, Hugh Halter, described discipleship as "association." As disciples, we associate with God the father, we associate with our friends in the church, and we associate with the people he's called us to love. Tim associated with me, for my good. He didn't have to, but he did. And if I our runs become habit, I'll grow. I will run faster and longer simply because he chose to spend time with me.
Discipleship means associating yourself with others for their good. It means running alongside one or two other people as you head toward Jesus. At different times and in different circumstances, men and women who disciple one another will notice each other's strengths and weaknesses. When that happens, they get to build one another up and remind one another of grace. Some people "run fast" at bible study. Some are marathon runners at evangelism. Some pray... all the time. We need each other, which makes a lot of sense, because we were made to be with one another.
The best thing about our time: we talked as we ran (between my gasps for breath), about who Jesus is, and what he wants for us. We processed the Verge Conference together and asked what God might be asking of us as disciples of Jesus, sent on mission to make disciples of Jesus. As we ran around the neighborhood God has settled us in, we remembered God's mercy. We remembered his love is for us despite our sin. We fought together to remember grace as I fought to remember to breathe. And when we got back to my house, we prayed and thanked God for his mercy, for the pain of running, for the mercy of breath, and for the chance to build our endurance for the marathon by fixing our eyes on Jesus who finished the race in my place. He ran perfectly so that I could run with freedom -- shameless, breathless and hopeful that in time and with some practice, I'll breathe deeper and run harder till my race is done.