top corner second lap

31 08 2014

Top corner second lap. Even the words make me shudder. Or at least, they used to. I regularly do the 5k Banstead Parkrun which is 2 lopsided laps through the woods. And the top corner second lap, about 3/4 of the way around – I used to hate it. It’s just after a long hill, with a steep start. Physically the legs and heart are struggling – but more than that, for me it was psychological. At that point, the self-doubt creeps. The negative voices in my head telling me give up, stop; you’re no good anyway, you’re a rubbish runner, just walk, go home. Did I tell you you’re also a rubbish vicar? And don’t get me started on how you’ll cope with that adoption idea…

But part of maturing is knowing that when things are tough you don’t just give up. And part of being a Christian who writes is knowing that running metaphors are very biblical, so no-one can tell you to stop going on about it. Pushing on through the self-doubt, chronic though it is sometimes, is essential to living fully. When you believe in something, you are prepared to suffer for it. Life as a follower of Jesus is like a long-distance race, just as Paul said it was. Moments of self-doubt, moments of cruising; moments of pain, moments of feeling unbeatable; moments of loneliness, and moments of needing to run together. As the African proverb says, if you want to quickly, go alone; if you want to go far, go together. 


Why don’t I fear the top corner second lap anymore? Because I’ve taken on a challenge to run Man vs Mountain, 20 miles over Snowdon, which is further and harder than I’ve ever run before. For this south Londoner, Snowdon is about as similar as Saruman to Neville Longbottom. Why? Because I love a challenge. Yes. But also because I am raising money for Sutton Schoolswork, our local Christian schoolswork charity. So I have been training. Hard. I have run more, and further; I have sought out hills; and my time at the Banstead parkrun has come toppling, culminating in three PBs in a row (17.34), taking a minute off my time in 3 months, and winning it this week (yay to me!). 18 miles over Box Hill no longer scares me. 20 miles over Snowdon? Ok, yes that does. 

Funny how putting the work in gets results though. I firmly believe in Christian schoolswork. It is not about covert evangelism; it is not some sinister underground movement. But it is about putting the Christian faith on the radar for our children and young people, a faith as real and lived, not as taught in books by people who usually just don’t get it. How can you understand the world without understanding faith in God, even if you don’t believe it yourself? We have a lot to say about the things that young people need to hear; and we have ears to listen to what they have to say. We teach on lifestyle and ethics and history and knowing yourself; we open people’s eyes to justice issues like human trafficking and bullying. And we are invited by pretty much all the schools in Sutton, because they trust us: 45 primaries, 11 Secondaries, 35,000 kids. And currently just 2 schoolsworkers. 

If you want to sponsor me and support Sutton Schoolswork, then click here to donate by text, or send a cheque; you can also pray for me on Saturday 6th September, beginning at 8am! And more than that, pray for your local schools. Get involved. Support your local schools workers. Thank you. IMG_3432





29 04 2012

There’s lots of half-truths and myths and wishful thinking that we bandy around at church. We’re all as guilty as each other, which is kind of comforting to know. Unless you believe you have the whole and complete and unblemished truth of course, in which case it might be disconcerting.

One of the half-truths came to mind when I was doing my regular Saturday parkrun. I saw this sign. It spoke volumes. 

non-secure baggage here

When we come to Jesus we can give him our baggage and he can redeem it. All that stuff that has us back and holds us down. Guilt, bad habits, too much cheese. Cumbered with a load of care? Come to Jesus. His yoke is easy and his burden is light.

Half-truth. Theologically it works. Practically, it’s a work in progress. The trouble is when we give Jesus our baggage usually we are giving it via the church, which is when the “non-secure” part of the photo springs to mind.

This isn’t to say we don’t give it at all in case it goes wrong. At the parkrun we leave our baggage together in one place because there safety in a shared risk, and when someone is likely to be keeping an eye on it. Though of course we don’t leave our valuables in view, and if you’re like me you keep anything really valuable strapped to your arm (there’s another illustration there about leadership and vulnerability…).

So yes, we do place our burdens on Jesus, we allow him to nail it to the cross and deal with it… but we also live in the knowledge that it’s a work in progress, that when we do this we take risks, risks involve trust and though God won’t us down it might sometimes feel like it. And people probably will.

So, baggage. Non-secure, left at your own risk.  The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the half-truth.

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