A Running Prayer

I awake to my alarm at 6:15 a.m. and realize that today is Thanksgiving.  This fact doesn’t really change things – well, except that having a day off during the week in late November allows me to run in daylight when it’s not quite as frigid.  For that, I am thankful.  But to be perfectly truthful, I’m thankful for every day I wake up.  I’m thankful for every day I can stand and walk and run.  In a weird way, I feel like it’s my responsibility to run – to run for those who cannot.

As I’m heading up the first hill on Titan Road, I look to the east and wish the the sun wasn’t being so shy today.  Her rays are slowly peeking out from the cloud-scattered horizon and with each ray that the clouds randomly release, I feel a little warmer and a little lighter.  I think about how incredible it is that the sun rises every day to brighten and warm our lives.  For the first time in 10 years, I think about God.

Until the age of 14, I knew no religion.  My only experience was a few beautiful Sunday mornings where my Nana and Grampy would take me to the Presbyterian Church.  I was about 10 I think.  All I remember was that I got to sit in between the two most loving people I knew – engulfed in their smell, their touch, and their warmth.  When I was a second-semester Freshman, my parents randomly enrolled me in St. John Vianney Catholic High School. I had no school-issued uniform and no understanding of God.  Secretly, I asked one of my grade-school friends if she would write down all the prayers we had to recite before every class.  I memorized them like a champ.  But, I still knew no God.

By high school graduation, I was Catholic – at least in my heart.  I prayed.  I volunteered.  I cared about those less fortunate.  But, according to every Catholic, I was not Catholic in God’s eyes because I had not completed the seven sacraments.  I was not yet disillusioned by their views.  I continued to go to Mass, to pray to a God that I was still trying to understand, and baptized my first child in the Catholic Church.  But, I was not at peace.  I could not make sense of God.  Religion, I understood.  I understood the community of the church, and loved it.  I understood that people needed hope and healing and help in so many ways.  What I didn’t understand was how God was responsible for this.

But running today makes me wonder how all of THIS is possible – the peacefulness of the morning, the vast plains on the east, and the mysterious mountains on the west.  I understand the science of the universe but everyone always says there’s something more to its formation.  Today, I wonder if there is.  My story and the unanswered questions flip through my mind like an old-fashioned movie reel as I head back down my final hill.  The sun is completely covered by the clouds now and it feels much colder.  Then, the movie of my mind focuses in on the recent serendipitous events that led me to Pastor Tullian Tchividjian, grandson of Reverend Billy Graham.

It was a Friday morning in October and I was running on the treadmill.  “Morning Joe” was on the TV screen above my head.  I don’t usually watch TV when I run, but something made me look up and a segment called “Faith on Fridays” caught my attention.   Pastor Tullian was being interviewed about his latest book called, “One Way Love:  Inexhaustible Grace for an Exhausted World.”  He spoke about Grace – defined for laymen as “unconditional love – the love of God.”  His message, although much more eloquent, is that a relationship with God provides a love with no conditions.  He talked about how exhausted we are as a society and how understanding God’s Grace can help set us free – if we believe.

I was intrigued.  I sent Tullian a Tweet about the show and within a day, he had written me and asked me to provide him with my address so he could send me a book.  We had several email exchanges that were so hopeful that I couldn’t wait to get the book.  As I write this, I am reading it – slowly.  I’m reading every word and re-reading what I don’t get.  I’m taking notes and trying to understand a God that I’ve never met.

By the time I am a half-mile from home where the kids will be rubbing the dreams from their eyes and the coffee will still be hot, I am saying a prayer.  I notice the rhythm of my footfalls as I silently thank the world or the universe or maybe God for my life – for all the laundry that’s piled up, for all the dishes I need to put away, for the vacuuming that I’ve been putting off, and for all the emails that I’ve yet to answer.  I open my front door and breathe deeply.   I am blessed to have it all.

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36 Responses to A Running Prayer

  1. Pingback: A Running Prayer – Tullian Tchividjian

  2. Gail Bitondo says:

    Beautiful post, Callie! It’s an awesome feeling when you realize that God is always there for you…

  3. Kathi says:

    My husband directed me to your blog just now after reading a Tullian tweet…Good News travels fast. 🙂 He knew I’d love your post because I too love running, manage life as a working mom, and for many years was also just a Catholic in my heart. I’m praising God for you and how running has offered time to reflect and then post to such a wide audience! Every runner knows the clarity a strong run can bring, but not all have understood yet that those moments alone, getting to the end of themselves, are theirs by God’s grace. I’ll pray for you as you seek God, knowing you’ll find Him as He promises. Plus, I’ll check back often at your blog for updates. I hope you’ll continue to share so more can connect with your story.

    • Hi Kathi – I love that you took the time to read my writing and then to comment. It’s so nice to know that others find the same joy I do from running and reflecting. Having Tullian post this was a very unexpected result. My writing is usually for me and just a few of my close friends. I hope it has a positive impact on those reading it. Thank you again. All the best to you as well.

  4. Bill says:

    I got Tullian’s book a few days ago as a gift for my birthday. I enjoyed reading your post, so much that I think I should stop reading blogs and start reading the book.

    Keep on writing.

    Bill

  5. Sarah H. says:

    I too was brought here through twitter, and loved your post. I am constantly amazed at the ways God uses to show his love to his children. I can’t wait to see and read your thoughts as you continue your journey into knowing his love for you.

  6. Chris says:

    Hi, Callie,

    First of all, I love running, so we have something in common! Nature is so refreshing to me and I never really feel healthy in heart, mind, and body unless I’m regularly breathing in the fresh air on a run. =)

    Like some others, I came to your blog because of a post by Tullian, too. I grew up with loving Catholic parents and showed up to a Catholic church on and off for the first twenty years or so of my life, and although I believed there was a God and that he was good, I never once understood what grace was. Jesus didn’t make much sense to me, although I connected Him with God in my head if I ever thought about Him. Actually, when some Christian friends of mine started telling me about the grace of God, I was just offended. It was only after my view of myself was shattered by the way I chose to hurt two people I deeply cared about at the age of 21 that I began to understand what grace is and that I needed it.

    Funnily enough, I believed in Jesus not long after that while I was out on a run in the forest. I came to a stop in the woods and just started pouring my heart out to God and realized (I think because of Him showing it to me) that I’d never really known who Jesus was, but I finally understood enough at that point to realize how my whole life had been me running by myself — and away from Him. I asked for His forgiveness and gave my life to Him that day and the sun has never been brighter, even on the darkest days I’ve seen since then.

    Thanks for sharing your story with me, Callie. It’s encouraging and makes me think back on how God has been involved in my life since day 1. God bless! I’m praying for you as you come to know God and His grace.

    • Hi Chris – Thank you for sharing your story as well. That’s what I love most about writing blogs – others being able to also tell their story as it relates to mine. I am glad you found peace. Keep running. I, too, believe there is no better way to find peace and make sense of this life. All the best.

  7. Raish says:

    Lovely essay! I loved how light and relatable it is — and running and praying at the same time is awesome. What book was it that Pastor Tullian send you?

    • Hi Raish – Thank you for the nice words and the feedback. I am reading Tullian’s latest book called “One Way Love – Inexhaustible Grace for an Exhausted World.” It’s been enlightening.

  8. Jerolynn says:

    Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful! God is always chasing us down.

  9. the Old Adam says:

    Nice job, Callie!

    “We must decrease, He must increase.”

    Thanks.

  10. Wendy Alvarez says:

    Callie, I just read your blog after Pastor Tullian recommended it. I just recently came across his book being talked about on Lisa Whelchel’s twitter. I ordered it right away, because I felt strangely led to and the book arrived the day before Thanksgiving. I enjoyed the holiday with family, and after all was cleaned up and everyone was gone and the house was silent, I was exhausted but full of the joy of a good day. I retreated to the bathroom for a hot bath and thought I would start a few pages of the book. Well, I couldn’t put it down! And I bet you won’t be able to either 🙂 God loves us so very much, and I’ve always known that but it’s starting to permeate my heart in a fresh way. Jesus loves me this I know, like the song says, but better than that is Jesus knows me this I love! Praying for your journey as you discover the peace of His love for yourself! 🙂

    • I loved that you shared this Wendy. I am still working through the book – as a ‘layman,’ it is taking me longer than most. (smile) So appreciative of your comments.

  11. Heather says:

    Callie!!!! I love you! And this made me have such a warm feeling! I am so blessed to have such an unbelievable sister and mentor, you are an amazing inspiration to me!

    • You were the one person I really wanted to read this honey. I knew you would appreciate it so much. Thank you for reading it and for sharing it. Love you sissy!

  12. Christopher says:

    Callie,

    That was so beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing and being such an inspiration to so many. I hope you and the kids are well. I miss our email exchanges and our JOD’s (jokes of the day)

    Be well and God Bless,
    Chris

    • Thank you for reading this Chris. I have so many inspirational people in my life too. I guess without all them, life would be a lot less colorful and certainly a lot less meaningful. All the best to you and the girls. Be well.

  13. Janis says:

    Callie,
    I don’t know you, but I was overwhelmed with joy as I read your blog. It is such a blessing to be able to watch someone come to know Jesus. Thank you for sharing. This is truly beautiful.

  14. Janis says:

    I meant to tell you that I’ve just finished reading Tullian’s book. I agree that it could be re-read over and over. Have you had a chance to listen to any of his sermons yet? http://www.crpc.org/media The first series I listened to was Jesus + Nothing = Everything.

    • Hi Janis – I love that you took the time to comment and to show such sweet support. I have listened to a few of Tullian’s sermons. He is an eloquent speaker and excellent story-teller. I will look up the sermon you suggest too. From the title, I’m sure it will be enlightening. All the best to you and I will keep you posted on my journey.

  15. Steve Woodson says:

    Simply speechless! Great post, Cal!

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  18. Staci McKee says:

    What an amazing post! You are so talented is so many areas!!

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