Three More Lessons from a Distance Runner!

Reading time: two minutes.

Karl Meltzer broke the record for cruising the Appalachian Trail, doing the nearly 2,200 miles in less than 46 days.  New York Magazine interviewed him and he shared some endurance lessons that apply quite well to this marathon of service in God’s kingdom.

Here’s a few more of his insights, beginning with Sleep.

I just saw something this week that allegedly Dr. Luther had to say about sleep.Luther said, “One of the greatest acts of faith is sleep.”  That’s pretty good!  I remember cringing the first time one of my childhood friends prayed, “If I should die before I wake…”  I thought, “Whoa?  I could die?”  Not sure I slept too well that night.

My mom taught me, “Guard me through the starry night and wake me when the sun shines bright.”

Either way, I suppose, commending ourselves to the Lord’s care, shutting our eyes and giving up complete control for a few hours is a good exercise in faith.

We need the rest and rejuvenation of sleep, especially if we conclude our prayers, “If I should wake before I die, I pray the Lord to show me why!”  Learn to sleep as much as you need.

Next, our endurance champion suggests Channel pressure.  He knew people were watching him and counting on him.  He turned that into focus on the immediate task and energy to keep going.

We live a very public life that brings with it lots of pressure.  It can be, when handled well, the kind of positive stress that drives us to be at our best.

It took me many years to get even a little bit comfortable with preaching on Sunday morning.  The weekly challenge drove me into prayer, into great effort in preparation, and then into prayer again on Sundays before delivery.

When the pressure to perform weighs heavy, channel it into dependence upon the One who instills all of our labors with His Spirit, His power and His grace!

This one is good, too.  Show up.  Our trainees for Stephen Ministry were often intimidated by the enormity and responsibility of the task.  Most found it comforting when I explained to them that the greatest portion of what they would be doing in their ministry of one-on-one caregiving was just showing up.

Didn’t Jesus promise that when we showed up, He would show up in the midst of us?  When we’re armed with the Word and the sacraments, we never show up helpless.  We might be tired, discouraged and a little stressed out, but when we show up for our appointed callings, good things happen.

I think there’s a lot of wisdom in this distance runner’s suggestions!

Let’s review: Pace yourself; Beat and broken down? Focus on what you can control; Practice gratitude; Choose to be positive; Drink coffee; Focus on the process; Ask for help; Sleep; Channel pressure; and Show up.

We’ll finish next week.  Thanks for reading.

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