Warm Up: John 14:27, Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
Stretching: Matthew 14: 22-33
Run: Running has taken me to some unexpected places: in the middle of a herd of goats in rural Kostroma, Russia; through a salt marsh near Accra, Ghana; downtown Singapore in the middle of the night; high into the stunning beauty of the Austrian Alps; through the quaint canals and waterways of Christ Church, New Zealand in late Spring; deep into the Central American jungles outside of Guatemala City; and on and on. Since I run everywhere I travel; my travels and my running are synonomous. What I know of a place, I feel like I found when I ran through its city streets and over local terrain: Cape Town, South Africa; Penal, Trinidad; Jakarta, Indonesia; Lima, Peru; Yellowstone National Park; all over the world. Obviously, there was some danger involved and I did have to be careful. Often, I ignored warnings that I shouldn’t be running in these places. But, I think back on the experiences I would have missed if I would have always chosen the safest route.
I wonder how often Jesus’ disciples reflected on their life experiences after they decided to follow him? Did they ever regret their decision? I wonder if it made them nervous to hear Jesus say things like: “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” (Matthew 8:20); “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:54); “Whoever wants to be my disciple has to deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24). Do you think the experience of seeing the miracles, hearing the words, and living in the presence of the Giver of Life was worth the sacrifice? Do you think they had regrets? After many deserted Jesus, Peter put the question to rest in John 6:68, “Master where (else) would we go? You have the words of eternal life.” I love the adage, “If you want to run with the big dogs, you have to get off the porch.” Talk about running with the lead pack! Even facing the certainty of following Jesus in his death could not diminish the fervor these eleven men showed in their devotion. As another devoted follower of Jesus’ would later write, “For your sake, we face death all day long; we are like sheep led to be slaughtered.” (Romans 8:36). Do you know that the most oft-repeated notion in the Bible is some version of “Do NOT be afraid”? Yet in a world of paranoia that breeds fear, we are conditioned to live in it. If this were not so, selling insurance would not be a gazillion-dollar industry. Let the only fear that controls you be the ‘fear of God’ in your life and you’ll be amazed at where the path leads.
Cool Down: “Lord, I am fearful about so many things. I don’t want to be afraid. I know that reveals my lack of faith in you as my Protector and Defender. Help me to discern between foolishness and faith and when you call me out of the boat, let me not be bold enough to walk on the water. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”