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RunningAway001For the past several months, I have been struggling with many things. There have been weeks where it seemed like, between work and projects at home, I had no time for anything more than sleep. I was working three jobs (OfficeMax, New Creation Lutheran, and GodPonders); thankfully, I’m down to just two jobs now!

Our business, GodPonders, has not been growing as fast as I would like. It seems, at times, as if we are actually going backwards. The income is not even meeting the expenses of the business, so it becomes urgent to do more—but as I’ve said, time is at a premium. This all gives way to simple resignation . . . “why bother” becomes the tape that has been playing in my head.

My health has also been a struggle during this time. Living on stress has caused my eating habits to go downhill and my weight to creep uphill. I had one of those chest colds that just would not let go—not helpful when you already are tired! Then there was the night in the ER with chest pains, and the discovery that my diabetes had kicked up a notch.

Then my youngest son decided he wanted to move home—NOW. So there were plans to make, schedules to shuffle, and more plans to be made. Since he does not drive or have a car, I also got to play taxi for a few days as he was getting settled in new digs.

But the greatest struggle I have been facing in the last few months has been myself. I have fallen into the deep, deep trap of self. Concerned with my needs and working as hard as I could to meet those needs with my own plans. I have taken all the struggles of life and tried to manage them on my own.

Those of you with winter driving experience have all probably experienced that frustrating sensation  when the packed snow—which was making it hard to drive in the first place—turns to ice as you spin your wheels. The more you try to get out of the snowy driveway or ditch you are stuck in, the more it turns from snow to a wonderfully smooth sheet of ice, Without some outside means like a tow truck or a push from a helpful neighbor, there is nothing you are going to do to get moving again . . . unless you want to wait for spring. This has been my life for the past few months. Since it is now October and Minnesota Spring is 10 months away, I am not waiting around for that!

Today marks the day that I begin “running away from me.” This, however, brings up a new issue—if I am running away from me, where exactly am I headed? There is a great danger in just beginning to run away, with no plan in mind. I have watched far too many people on that journey. They run from one job to another. They run after bigger homes and new cars. They run after stuff to fill their home. Some even run toward the corporate ladder and climb as fast as they can. Still others run after a place to hide, the dull quiet of alcohol or drugs.

But my journey has a destination and a goal. It is a journey that, if I am true to it, will last me a lifetime. There will be no need for me to buy a new map or make a new plan if I am faithful to the goal. The goal is Christ. To know more of Him and to look more like Him.

Many of you who are reading this know me personally, or at the very least have met me or heard me speak. So let me be very clear about this journey—It is a very had trip for me. I have a not-so-tongue-in-cheek philosophy about running: “I never run unless I am being chased, and then ONLY if I think I can get away—otherwise, why waste all the energy?” Running away from me is not something I can take lightly and it will not be easy. For this reason, I have decided to bring you along on the journey.

Many marathon runners talk about those who ran with them, who pushed them and encouraged them. They speak of the fans along the route that yelled their name or number out to encourage them. I desire the company and the encouragement on this journey. I also pray that my journey will encourage you to run to Christ as well.

lightstock_41004_xsmall_user_1393445I am well aware that, on this journey, I will encounter unforeseen obstacles . . . as well as forks in the road with no clear direction. I also know that it is a life-long run. Back in the late ‘80s, Shirley and I served as house parents for a group home in Mishawaka, Indiana. The boys that lived in our home were all placed there by the court, and most had no desire to be there. To get out of our home, some would simply run. Bolt out the door and take off. I have been blessed with amazing strength in my legs and was known to take off after them, and sometimes even catch them! Word got out in our home, “Don’t run when Mr. McCourt is working—he might catch you.” I am a sprinter and not a marathon runner. If I can catch you in the first quarter mile, you’re mine . . . after that, not so much.

This journey I am starting is going to affect every aspect of my life. It will change my sleep habits, my eating habits, my free time, my mental health, and my relationships. You see, it is a journey toward wholeness in Christ, and death to self. The good news is that the old man in me has been drowned in the water and Word of holy Baptism, and the stamina and power for the race is not mine, either. This is a race that involves me getting myself out of the way and letting the strong Spirit of the Living Risen Reigning Christ in me take charge.

Ready, Set, Go!

<>< Craig

October 1, 2015