it’s only 13.1 miles from hooters to church

My wife and I ran a half marathon last Sunday that was sponsored by the Hooters in my home town.

help 2I had no intentions of running this race, as I had spent exactly zero effort training for a race of this distance. My wife, on the other hand did, and I was there to cheer on my sweety pie. (plus she looks hot in her running garb). We got there early enough to give her time to sign in and stretch with plenty of time for us to chat about how cold it was that morning. We kept warm in the car until just before the race and she made her way to the starting line. Somewhere in the middle of that, I decided that I had no idea what I was going to do for two hours while she was gone…

So I signed up an ran the race.

I am very happy to announce that, thanks to my spur of the moment decision to punish my entire body for an amount of time that pains me to repeat, I have come up with an extremely relevant and tangible explanation for a question that occasionally crosses through every Christians cerebellum which you will find right next to their medulla oblongata, located in their limbic system.

Why do I have to go to Church?

helpWhen I hit the starting line I was surrounded by people, but I didn’t know anyone. I was not sure where I was going or where the path led to. I had no idea what it was going to take for me to endure my journey nor did I know if I was going to be able to finish it. I was not prepared and I had not trained enough. All I had was an ephemeral urge coupled with an overwhelming trepidation of tedium. (I used a thesaurus for 5 of the last 9 words). Plus it cost me 40 bucks to enter.

Sound familiar?

You go to church. There are all those people that you don’t know. You are not sure exactly why you are there or where it will get you. You don’t know what kind of effort you will need to put in or if you will be in it for the long haul. You don’t feel prepared or properly trained. You’re just bored and empty and you have nothing better to do at the moment. On top of all that, it cost you WAY more than the race entry fee at the end of the month thanks to those baskets they pass around.

So the gun fires… and off you go.

kids get itYou follow the crowd for a time and the excitement that surrounds you carries you for a while. Adrenalin numbs your pain and you mindlessly endure the first few moments. Then you look up to find that you’re on your own again. Face to face with the journey, a little tentative, a little scared, a little concerned. The more you progress, the harder each step becomes. Your mind wanders, your focus drifts, your intensity starts to dwindle.

Am I talking about running or attending church?

Then you get to a mile marker and 20 volunteers are there cheering you on, handing you nourishment, and praising your efforts. You look ahead and there are a few more pointing you down the right roads in the attempt to keep you on track. This pattern keeps repeating itself, thankfully. Then you start to familiarize yourself with the folks that are traveling with you at the same pace, with similar steps and challenges. As you get more comfortable you interact and absorb the vibe of the environment and the fact that you are not alone. As a mater of this fact, you are surrounded by like minded people with similar goals and complementing motivation.

fiveSome could compare that with a congregation of believers.

The more I interacted with folks; the more enjoyable my experience became. I must tell you that I began purposely high five-ing anyone that made eye contact with me during my race. It made no mater if they were watching, volunteering, passing me, being passed by me, or walking their dog. I realized that I was on to something that was gloriously revealing, and I could not stop myself from going “back to the well” continuously.

There were 3 specific stages of my race that gave me a crystal clear understanding of Gods intention when creating the idea of church as we misunderstand it.

1) Running the race alone. This was hard, uncomfortable and not conducive to a fulfilling experience.

2) Running while aware of my support. This was easier to bear, exciting, and motivating.

Nope, this isnt me...3) Running after being touched by another. This was electrifying. Each physical and emotional connection fueled my strides. I felt as though I was being carried during the moments of interaction and I raced toward my next chance encounter.

This, my friends, IS church.

If you are reading this blog, then you have access to a bible that you can read on your own. If you have an income, you can send a tithe by mail anywhere you want. If you have an IPod you can listen to more services and lessons that are probably better than the ones that you listen to from the pastor at your home church. You can download christian music and worship in your car on your way to the golf course and break off a piece of your hot-dog bun at the turn and declare it the Body of Christ.

Go DaddyThat’s all good in the eyes of the Lord.

However, you are robbing yourself of the true intention of church provided by our almighty God. You are robbing yourself of “genuine community”. This race was never meant to be run alone. I got news for your….it CAN”T be run alone. Those volunteers are there to serve you whether you decide to take advantage of their generosity or not.

So why not…

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6 Responses to it’s only 13.1 miles from hooters to church

  1. Traci says:

    So maybe you need to be writing for a living or something. You are good. Very good. AND the title of this post alone would have gotten me to read it! heehee

  2. Kev says:

    Enjoyed it as always Charlie, thanks for your thoughts…

  3. jazmine9 says:

    I love the way you take something totally random (but not really random in your life!) and tie it into an aspect of Christian life. I also love the way you just jumped in with both feet (so to speak) and ran that race without preparation! Tally ho! I am “training,” and I use that word loosely, for a 10K coming up in 4 weeks. I am (not) a runner, at least that is what my body wants me to believe. My knee is killing me and I am trying to find the pleasure in this form of exercise. Your analogy will give me lots to think about on my next run (in 2 days, God willing and if I can still walk!)
    Thanks for your insightful read, as always!

  4. myderbe says:

    hmmm . . . good analogy. I’ve been learning so much about community in the past couple years. Good thoughts here.

  5. imhelendt says:

    Ok, I was eating my breakfast when I read the title and then subsequently choked on my oatmeal. You nearly killed me.

    Nice analogy. You’re right. Church is a totally different experience when you just attend or when you get involved. However? My strongest belief is that religion is what you do when the sermon is over. You and your deep thinking!

  6. Jayleigh says:

    Amazing post. Rob and I read it the day after it posted, and I just never got around to commenting.

    My twin sis is one who doesn’t attend and tries to do it alone. It bugs me, but you just can’t MAKE someone do something they’re not wanting to do. Ya know?

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