Posted by: Ed Deiss | August 6, 2019

Turning the corner at Grace

It was just after mile 20 of my first marathon in November 2015. I looked at the clock as I crossed the timing gantry, it was at 3:05.  I had long forgotten how tired my legs were, I just kept urging them to keep moving.  Then it hit me, the wall…hard.  Both my calves cramped suddenly, nearly brought me to my knees.  Through what is known in Richmond, Virginia as Pope’s Arch, I saw the head coach of my training team (Sports Backers).  He came alongside, saw that I was struggling and said “Just walk as fast as you can and stretch each calf with each step.” That’s what I did, for 4 miles.  Thought I had nothing left, doubt crept in on actually getting to the finish line.  Made up my mind that if I had to walk to it the rest of the way, I would.  Then when I turned at the corner at Grace Street, the cramping subsided and I could run again, and finished off the race.  I won’t forget going down the hill on 5th Street where I could see the James River and the finish line, it was finally in sight.  Crowds line both sides of the street cheering loudly, with cow bells ringing in my ears, and my running teammates who I trained with for months were waiting for me.  26.2, we got you….talk about some good news!

Just like any long distance run, and what is not news to anyone reading this, life can be hard, very hard.  You’re weary, giving it your all day after day and this race of life you’re in is more draining than you ever expected.  Full of potholes, puddles, hills that seem to go on forever; you just want to catch your breath.  I’ve been there too. As I learned during that first marathon experience, and have experienced first hand in life, there are times I just don’t know what is coming around the corner.  It could be getting through a Tuesday, running down Wronged Road looking for that bridge to cross, and then realizing the strength from scars.

Know what?  I have also experienced God’s unwavering grace at a street corner perfectly named.

The corner of Lombardy and Grace.  Having now run three marathons in Richmond, it serves as a lighthouse bringing me home and reminds me of a lesson learned.

What exactly? That we are conditioned that we get what we deserve, to work hard and try harder. To a large extent, very true. As with running, you get out of it what you put into it.  However, the more I think about it, it can sell us short of our daily struggles and add false expectations.

When I decided to take a chance and follow my heart I quickly learned to focus and just run the mile I was in. One of our coaches taught us that we all can run any mile with a purpose in mind.  So I thought, what fuels that purpose and ultimately the endurance needed to run mile after mile after mile? Is it putting the hard work in?  Trying harder?  What is called ’embracing the suck’?  Not really, rather it is love; that is what motivates endurance and provides the fuel to stay the course. I wouldn’t have made it to the finish without it.

When I turned that corner, I got that second wind, the cramping stopped and I could run again.  The crowd support was amazing; it was as if my eternal Teammate who has already finished His race, had come back to champion mine with heavenly grace, all the while reassuring me the work had been done.

When I see that turn on Grace, I can feel it as if I’m being encouraged “Come on Ed, let’s bring it in together,” and be assured that it is not about my pace or where I place, rather about experiencing His infinite grace.

Long distance runner Ryan Hall ran a half marathon in under an hour, and a marathon just under 2:05.  He was the first American runner to break an hour in the half marathon and the only American to run a sub 2:05 marathon.  His wife Sara is an incredibly accomplished runner as well.  When he was asked during an interview “Are you this good because you have worked and trained harder than everyone else, or because you are more blessed?”

His response: “Neither. I am what I am because of the grace of God. God’s grace has allowed me to pick myself up out of the dirt time and time again. That grace is something we can all have. It obviously takes a lot of focus, discipline, humility, hard work and all those other things that make up great athletes but that is just who I am. We can all achieve a level of greatness when we are who we are meant to be to the fullest.”

After I read that, no doubt he has turned that corner on Grace as well.

There are times I wonder, what does heaven look like as it is approached?  I see it similar to the finish line of a marathon.   When we are weak and hurting, we can imagine the moment when it will be in sight; pressing on with the assurance that the finish will be more glorious, crowds more enthusiastic, and reunions more heartwarming than we could ever imagine.

After taking a year off of long distance running, and basically starting over, I look forward running down Lombardy and taking that turn on Grace.  When I see it, I know the crowd will be there and it will be time to bring it in together, knowing the finish line will soon be in sight.

“God answers the mess of life with one word: grace.” – Max Lucado

Now, that’s the best news ever.

Great to be back writing too.

Until next time,

Ed

 


Responses

  1. Hi Ed,

    Your dad and I read this together this morning. Timelessly true information we all need to learn; thanks for reminding us.

    Love,

    NanNan

  2. Thank you NanNan, it sure was a reminder to me as the words were written down as well. Love you both!


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