It’s January in Florida. Similar to Hillary Clinton’s political stances on, well, everything that statement is fluid. The weather could be balmy and hot, enviable to all our northern neighbors. January in Florida means that Mother Nature displays more personalities than the Housewives of New Jersey. Thunderstorms. Heat waves. Arctic blasts. Come to think of it, there is only one thing that is consistent in January in Florida, the Disney Marathon.
Unless there is lightning. Lightning forces people to hide under rocks with some even threatening to move to Canada to avoid the impending doom. Wait that was something else…anyway. Around this time of year, I sign up to volunteer at the Disney Marathon and my friend Kim Bennett signs up to run. Kim runs almost 50 miles in what Disney has nicknamed the “Dopey Challenge”. A 5K, 10K, half marathon and full marathon run back to back, over four days. It’s the one time all year we get real “Face-time”.
I watch Kim’s life on Facebook throughout the year. Not with the same intent that some of you watch your exes, but rather to see what my friend and her family’s latest adventure. Kim is what many would call an elite runner. She’s focused. She trains. Running isn’t a hobby for Kim, it’s a lifestyle.
I met Kim when I worked at Sea World. She and I got into a little trouble together, because every time management would cook up a big, thick, steaming bowl of horse puckey, Kim and I would stand up and ask them to take the first taste, before they served it up to the employees. There was one thing about Kim that I never really respected or understood back in the day. When the “lunch bell” rang, every dang one of us were focused on eating, except Kim. She’d go to the locker room, slip on her workout clothes, a pair of sneakers and a headset. She would then proceed to run the back road at Sea World for 30 minutes of her lunch. Hell, it took me 30 minutes just to get my food from the cafeteria. When we would go off property, we would always invite Kim. More often than not, she would politely decline, in lieu of her normal routine. I’ll be honest, I thought it was silly. I could never imagine running unless being chased by a bear, but Kim was dedicated to her sport, and she let no one’s opinion or influence stand in her way.
All these many years later, I see that Kim and I have two very different outcomes to show for the things we focused on. Kim continues to run almost 12 years after we met and I still take about 30 minutes to order from the menu. Kim set her eyes on the horizon not the road under her feet. She set moderate goals that eventually led her to achieve monumental accomplishments. It’s a principle we could all apply to our everyday lives and our spiritual walk.
Kim’s husband Tom is a writer. He’s one of the first, All-American, straight, firefighter guys who actively engages the creative side of his brain. If you were to look at them on the street, you would see just an average, everyday couple who love each other, life and their son. But if you were to look deeper, ask some in depth questions, you would unpack a richness and zest for life you wouldn’t get from a cursory glance.
Now you might think that from hearing me gush about Kim that we are the best friends ever and I meet her and Tom every Monday for dinner. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, at one point, when I was new to the dolphin show, I tried to kill Kim and her unborn child during a dolphin show. She was in the water near the glass, I didn’t see her and I sent a dolphin on a fast swim around the perimeter of the pool. The dolphin came within inches of taking her out. I was devastated, frustrated with myself and speechless. Kim made sure to let me know that she wasn’t happy with my actions, but she didn’t hold a grudge for too long. We eventually got to place where we were fine and I learned a lot from her. I would consider her a good friend. We have a shared history and a mutual respect for one another. She shares my moderate disdain for dumb people and my witty sense of humor
The Disney Marathon starts at 6 AM tomorrow. As I was preparing every stitch of winter gear to battle the current arctic blast, I received a text message from Kim. “Hope Disney is providing you with winter coats tomorrow.” At 330 AM I leave for Disney World to hand out “ice pops”, normally cups of water, to marathoners at mile 23.1. Another friend came to Florida to volunteer for the race, but canceled his shift yesterday. His tolerance for being outside drops in conjunction with the falling mercury. I didn’t judge my friend, but I was disappointed he wasn’t coming. I thought to myself, if these runners can run 26.2 miles in the cold, surely I can brave the weather and hand out water, bundled up like Ralphie’s little brother Randy from “A Christmas Story”.
My friend had signed up because I asked him to. He didn’t really have any level of commitment other than it sounded like something fun to do. Kim on the other hand, had practiced for moments like this from the moment she slipped on that first, snug fitting Nike and hit the open road. Two people. Two perspectives. Two different levels of commitment. Let me share the rest of my text message from Kim.
“See you at 23.1. I’ll be the one freezing.” To my one friend, the frigid temperature was a deal breaker. To Kim, the cold was simply one more obstacle on the way to to the finish line. Not for a second had thought she thought of canceling. Kim didn’t make a decision based on her comfort. She made a decision based on her goals. Kim’s drive has so many spiritual parallels.
If comfort is our goal, then the enemy will take every opportunity to steer us off course with disaster. However, if living for Jesus is the goal, then everything the enemy throws in our path will simply be obstacles on the way to God.
What is it that has your spiritual walk sidelined right now? What stands in between you and not only Jesus, but living your life to the fullest. Jesus says in the bible that He wants us to experience life and life more abundantly. Are we doing that? As I told you, I thought Kim was silly to run, day after day, month after month. What I realize now is that she wasn’t simply running, she was building a legacy; brick by brick.
The disciples must have viewed Jesus much like I viewed Kim. They thought Him silly to have worked so hard and ended up on the cross anyway. To them, the pain and discomfort of the cross prevented them from seeing the bigger picture. Ultimately Jesus knew that the cross was never meant to be the end of His life. Jesus knew, it was just the beginning.