My Prayer: Take Off The Blinders

As we witnessed the civil unrest at the Capital in Washington, D.C. on January 6, 2021, there was a lot of discussion about hate groups and racism in America. Some in the white community (Breaking News: I am white), screamed on social media that racism is no longer an issue in 2021. Really?

When I engage some white people in the topic of racism, they often will challenge me to prove that racism still exist today in America. So I present them with a challenge. My challenge to them is to simply listen.

I am a storyteller, so I will share stories that my friends of color have shared with me about being racially profiled. I will share legit studies that have been done on the subject of racism. I will share videos showing racism happening to a person of color. I will encourage them to read articles or books on the subject of racism. Most importantly, I will challenge them to reach out to a friend of color and asked them if they have ever experienced racism. I think to myself, one of these suggestions will get through to them. Right? Sadly, a good majority of the time I will hear the following excuses:

*The data is biased.

*I don’t have time to read any articles or books.

*The person in the video was overreacting.

*My friends of color (if they actually have some) don’t want to talk about racism.

*I am tired of hearing about racism. Can’t everyone just get over it?”

I have had these types of conversations with my white friends and complete strangers too many times to count. But then after years of being frustrated by people who do not believe racism is still sadly alive and well, a beautiful freeing thought came to me. I don’t have to proof racism still exist today. The burden of proof is not on me. The burden of proof is on those who refuse to believe racism is still a major issue in 2021. There is no reason for me to walk away from these conversations feeling frustrated. The debate is over. This truth has set me free.

To those who continue to believe racism no longer exist, prove it. Show me some actual evidence. Show me some factual data. Just as my evidence proofs racism still exist in 2021, your evidence better support your argument against that fact.

As I close, my prayer is that God will change the hearts and minds of those who still deny racism is a clear and present danger in America. I pray these deniers will take time to read a book or article on the subject of racism. I pray they will check out the many videos that sadly show racism is still wide awake in our nation. My prayer is that my white brothers and sisters who still believe racism is a thing of the past, will reach out to a person of color and have a real conversation about this stain on America. I pray the blinders will come off. ~OC

Running With Endurance

As some of you know, I am a former long distance runner. I would still be running today, if not for my failing health. I still miss running and competing in marathons.

We marathon runners are a rare breed. That’s putting it mildly. Not many people wake up before dawn to go run 26.2 miles. People often joke with me that they get tired just driving 26.2 miles. I used to run multiple marathons a week. Yes, you read that correctly. I just loved running. Did you know that only half of one percent of the population in the United States has completed a full marathon.

Can we be honest? Completing a full marathon is hard. There is the training. The diet. The miles. The cost. The time and effort. For what? A t-shirt and a finishers medal. The t-shirts and medals are great, but there is more to running marathons than all the things I listed above. But I really did love the medals.

So, it is not surprising that not many people actually complete a full marathon. It takes a lot of effort and commitment.

As Christians, we are running a race that requires proper training if we want to finish well. It takes a commitment. It takes some work. It’s not always pretty. Here are just a few tips for running this race called life.

Prayer and God’s Word. Marathon runners do not head to Krispy Kreme or a buffet before a race. No, we full up on food that will give us the proper energy needed to cross the finish line. We also stay properly hydrated.

God’s word is our fuel. It fills us up. The Word prepares us for the long race ahead. God’s word draws us closer to Him. The Word helps us stay on course. God’s word and prayer strengthens us when we fill like saying No Mas. The scriptures and being in prayer sustains us for the journey.

Watch Your Pace. Every runner has their own pace. Some runners are just naturally gifted as runners. They have perfect stride and can cover more miles at a quicker pace. That was not me. I definitely did not have perfect stride. Thank goodness God blessed me with the ability to run for hours.

As a runner, I had to be realistic about my finishing time. I definitely was never going to be an elite runner. But that did not stop me from training and striving to be an elite runner.

In life, we will be tempted to run someone else’s pace. Their pace is so much better than ours we tell ourselves. Look at their stride. If only I could run like that we tell ourselves. But God did not design us to run someone else’s pace. We were not created to run someone else’s race. God designed a beautiful race just for you and me. Maybe it’s not at the pace we want, but it is the perfect pace for us

Never Stop Training. I was not your average runner. I never took a day off from running. Probably not recommended by the experts, but it worked for me. I believe God knew my running days would be short, so He gave me the extra energy to run everyday. Oh the memories. Wait a second, get back on track OC.

I did not wake up one morning and run a marathon. No, I trained and worked my way up to completing 26.2 miles. As my endurance increased so did my miles.

I love what James says in James 1:2-3, “My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance.”

Just as a runner needs to train for a marathon, we have to continue exercising and developing our spiritual muscles. During this marathon called life, we will face many obstacles and trials. Something or someone will try to knock us off course. Our spiritual training will help us overcome those trials. Can I get a amen?

I love 1 Corinthians 9:24, Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.

Thankfully when this marathon called life weighs us down, God is there to shower us with His amazing love, patience, understanding, grace and mercy.

Maintain Your Vision. Finish Strong. During my running days, I had a clear vision of what I wanted to accomplish. I had my eyes on the prize. Having goals helped me to keep running towards the finish line. To finish strong.

Knowing that our hope is in God, encourages us to keep running forward even when life gets hard. God has given us everything we need to run the race. To strive for the prize. To finish strong.

I love Philippians 3:14, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

We all have a race to run. I pray these tips help you to run the race God designed specifically for you. ~OC

Keep Running

I ran my first marathon back in 2004. A year after having a tumor removed from my chest. I ran my last marathon in 2009. I did not stop running because I stopped loving it. No, my declining health made that decision for me. But even though I was forced to stop running physically, I have never stopped running the race God has mapped out for me. None of us should ever stop running.

A marathon is 26.2 miles. Did you get that .2? The race does not stop at 26 miles. If a runner stops at 26 miles they did not finish the race. A race only ends after you complete the whole 26.2 miles. During those long training days and the 26.2 mile race, a lot of lessons are learned. Not just about running, but about life. Let me share just a few.

The Race Is Longer Than You Think. Life is not a sprint; it’s a marathon.  Remember the .2 of the 26.2 marathon? If we do not finish the .2, we have not completed the race. We cannot stop at mile 26. The marathon of life does not stop at 26 miles either. Life is a series of .2 miles. Our race does not end until God calls us home.

Don’t Take Shortcuts. When I was training for my marathons, it would have been easy to take some shortcuts. Take the short way home. Take something to help me on those tough days. Add some extra miles to my running log. The temptation is real to take some shortcuts or worse; to give up. We face those same temptations in life:

Your marriage is not going the way you hoped it would. You might be tempted to start the race over with some else. 

Your job is not going the way you had hoped. The temptation to just quit and start over is real. 

Your life is not going the way you hoped. Giving up seems so tempting. Please don’t do it. 

As we are running this marathon called life, sometimes we feel the best answer is to quit and start over. But a new race brings its own struggles and heartache.

During those times we want to take a shortcut, start a new race or to quit, we have to turn to God and seek His guidance. We must allow God to get us back on track. To give us  a new mindset.

Keep Running Until You Finish The Race. We can only finish the race, if we are running the race. So get off that couch and take the first step to your purpose in life. The marathon will not always be easy. I can promise you that. On those days, make the choice to take small steps.

A lot of people never see the awesome power of God because they refuse to hang in there on those tough runs. Giving up is easier.

As you run the race God has given you, I encourage you not to forget those .2’s. They might seem annoying, but those .2’s are a must in completing your marathon. So keep running. ~OC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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