Well, Saturday I finished my fourth marathon in Champaign. I saw some of you there and heard of many others. My friend JP Jones had the opening invocation and included a special prayer: "and God please help Mike Baker not to collapse". He may have saved my life. It didn't go as expected. I was hoping for around four and a half hours and instead finished just under five. Once again, my nutrition plan wasn't right and I got sick around 18 and puked (sorry for too much information) around 20 miles. Those last six miles were just grueling. Thought of quitting many times, but just kept going - through intervals of dry heaves (and real ones) and trying to get enough liquid in me. I thought of Jesus a lot and how thirsty and tired he was carrying a cross up the hill for my sins...but mostly I thought of how the race of the Christian life is so much like this. Sometimes the run is hard. Sometimes the pain is real. Sometimes doubts take over your mind about whether or not you can make it. Sometimes the race seems too long. Sometimes you just want to sit down. Sometimes a companions words help (and other time you want to punch them in the face). Well, you get the idea. Running a marathon is perhaps my favorite metaphor of the Christian life. So will I run another? Well, I vowed to never run again like I did in the previous marathons, but within a couple of hours, I really wanted to run again.
Why? I think it's crossing the finish line that draws me in. It is the most incredible thing in the world to cross the finish line after thinking you will never make it! And so it will be in heaven some day, we'll cross that line into glory and we can stop running by the blood and grace of Jesus. Hope I don't puke right across the finish line there like I did Saturday:-)
By the way, I recuperating in Laguna Beach this week. The leadership team on staff and i are in southern california to see some churches and talk with their leaders and to pray about and plan for what God is doing at Eastview. I'm technically working (my brain will be hurting about Wednesday by noon), but I'm not gonna lie, I'm looking out my window at some palm trees around a pool with the ocean in the background. But really I'm heading to an all day planning session right now - don't you feel sorry for me?