The Running God

The Running God: Lessons That Running Teaches Me About Myself and God

By Israel Ramos

It was a casual conversation: David Shin (Pastor in East Lansing) and I were talking about doing a triathlon relay together.  I don’t even remember how we got into the topic of triathlons, but we both reminisced about the days when he used to tour on his bike like Lance Armstrong and I used to swim a mile with relative ease like Michael Phelps.

It was nearly a decade and a half since my swimming days and I found myself shocked by my Fit4Him health evaluation report (basically a physical exam for my job) that was so bad, it advised me to seek medical advice immediately.

I needed to make some changes.  By this point, my only form of exercise was the rare pick-up basketball games at the school gym when the Adventist students at Michigan Tech were around.  When I visited downstate, my father-in-law coached me in golf or took me to play pickleball.  However, I had nothing routine.

By the end of the phone conversation with David, I was signed up to complete a triathlon – on my own.  My wife had been nagging (although she may replace “nagging” with “strongly encouraging”) me for a while to get into shape, using all sorts of incentives and reinforcement methods from her teaching background arsenal.  Embarking on this journey meant success for her as well.

But there had to be more than just a completion medal at the end of a race to keep me interested in this endurance sport.  Further conversations with our spouses and other friends brought to mind the stories of many individuals in our lives and ministries that had impacted us in ways they did not even know.  For example: Rachel, a young teenager who has had to beat cancer – three times!  Fighting, not just cancer, but financial security, limited family time, missed school days, and all the other battles that show up to fight when Cancer knocks at the doorstep.  Or Glory, a bright 10-year-old from Kenya who lost her parents to AIDS and is now living with her grandmother—struggling to pay for the education she deserves.  Then we have the much-needed ministries with talented personnel, cutting edge technology, and innovative ideas.  Where are the funds going to come from to help underwrite some of these endeavors to teach Adventism to our young people who are living in confusing times?  Even in Michigan, we have one of the world’s best campus ministry programs—with plans to advance in resource development, media, and expanding more of its programs.  These, and others have been what keep many swimming, biking, and/or running—today.

Soon after the completion of our first triathlon, we began a campaign called Revolution Against Cancer: where several athletes completed a 1.2 mile swim/56 mile bike/13.1 mile run in memory or honor of people who have had to fight cancer.  $500.00 was raised to help defray expenses for Rachel.  By the time this article has been printed, more athletes will complete the Detroit and Chicago marathons (and half marathons) as part of Marathoning for Meru: Revolution Against AIDS, already raising hundreds of dollars in pledges.

What started as an attempt to run short tri relays, has become a revolutionary way for people to be involved in ministry, change the lives of others less fortunate, and support worthy organizations.  In late August 2010, we officially formed a team of 13 athletes who are all wanting to be active and who have a passion for advancing God’s work.  The name of the team is Revolution and it seeks to run races with a purpose.  The team has grown in its efforts, organization, and goals.  We are now opening up membership for the start of the 2013 season and are in search for a few good men and women.  You can be part of the team too.

A lot has happened since my quest to get a better Fit4Him health evaluation: there’s been a 180 degree turn in my health report, I can run for more than two hours straight, a 70.3-mile triathlon race seems doable for me (at times), and I’m encouraged by the growing number of people who I’m teaming up with in personal exercise and ministry to others.

Perhaps more than anything, however, I’m discovering the Running God of the Bible—a God who runs after us with goodness and mercy (Ps. 23), Whose mental, spiritual, and physical mercies endure forever (Ps. 136).  A running and enduring God, who asks us to be running people because we are created to run – to be messengers, to run with patience, to be like Him.  I’ve realized that endurance in every sense is part of who God is and must be part of who we are!  More importantly, it plays a significant role in how we help others!

Israel Ramos is the team’s membership director.  For more information on how to join contact: iramos@misda.org