It was to be a stress-reducing two mile run after school. Taking off from the flag pole, I planned an out and back route designed to avoid clusters of children walking home.
But as I rounded a corner, there they were: four kids spaced out on the sidewalk like cones on an obstacle course. “Hey! You’re one of the teachers!” “Yes,” I stammered, weaving my way through them.
Then one of them gave chase. This happens sometimes: children follow me down the street—in hot pursuit, like kiddie-cops. Today’s “police interceptor” was a precocious third grader named Danny. He caught up with me, screaming over and over, “Mr. Duncan, why are you running!”
I picked up the pace. “Surely, I can drop this kid,” I thought. But he matched me stride for stride for about 40 yards! “Mr. Duncan, why are you running!” “Because I want to,” I yelled back. Finally, he turned around. I was alone again.
Once I rounded another bend, I started to walk. Why? Because I’m a middle-aged man who just drag raced a nine year old! Still huffing and puffing, I pondered. “Because I want to.” What kind of answer is that!? What I really meant to say is, I NEED to.
I’ve run early in the morning and late at night. Dodging traffic and snarling dogs, in the rain and under the blazing sun. Simply because I love the way it makes me feel.
The apostle Paul felt this way about sharing the message of Christ: “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” – 1 Corinthians 9:16b (NIV) The love of Christ compelled him; it moved him to extremes (2 Corinthians 5:14)
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize?
Run in such a way as to get the prize.” – 1 Corinthians 9:24 (NIV)
Here and now I must sheepishly admit that personal evangelism doesn’t always excite me like running does. I don’t often feel driven to share the gospel.
But maybe that’s because these two words -personal and evangelism- bring to mind the street corner witnessing of my Baptist youth. Handing gospel tracts to strangers never felt like a natural way to share my faith. However, answering (kindly) someone who asks me to speak up for the hope within me does. – 1 Peter 3:15b
Why am I running in this faith race? Because the love of Christ compels me!
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