Thursday, August 11, 2011

Here we go!

I sat in the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit today and was challenged to just do something. I have been working on a couple of writing projects for some time. I decided today that I would begin to share some of my writing and see what happens. I know there are thousands of would-be writers out there, but I decided to take the plunge anyway.

There are three things I want to share through this blog. I want to share my writing in small chunks and invite any feedback. I want to share some poetry I have written. I want to share random thoughts and insights.

This has been a difficult two weeks. I have had to walk with two families who each lost a child. One was a late term stillbirth. The other was a car accident. I wrote this poem to help me process the feelings I was experiencing as I processed the death of a promising 16 year old young man.

July 29, 2011
by David Banfield

The day began like every day
The busyness, the hurry, the need to get things done
The norm of life was in full flow
Then the world stood still

The norm was shattered with the unexpected
In a moment the unwanted imposed itself
Everything came to a stop with a crash
Then the world stood still

All the busyness of life didn’t matter at that moment
All that we think is so important faded from view
Our world became focused on one tragic point
We were frozen in time

The hours ahead were filled with pain
Unanswered questions flew in and out of our minds
We cried, we embraced, we sat in uneasy silence
Our world stood still

The time came to start the clock again
We didn’t want to, but we had no choice
Slowly, painfully we moved
We moved back into the flow of time

I drove home alone and watched the world rush by
Don’t they know, don’t they care
I felt the terror of a life cut short
I felt myself being swept back into the relentless flow

One day the world will stand still
And time will be no more
Good-bye will become a forgotten word
When we stand on that eternal shore

I am writing a "book" about living the Christian life titled Run and Not Grow Weary. Here is the introduction.

Run and Not Grow Weary

            James Fixx, the author of The Complete Book of Running, is credited with helping to popularize the sport of running in America. His bestselling book, published in1977, inspired millions of people to put on their running shoes and hit the trail. In 2009, 1.32 million people completed timed road races in America.
            I began running in Jr. High. I was not fast so I was quickly “promoted” to being a distance runner; the 2-mile race to be exact. Throughout Jr. High and High School I ran cross- country in the Fall and track in the Spring. I was never any good but I did enjoy running. After High School I ran only occasionally. By the time I entered ministry running was a vague memory.
In 2006 things changed.  My daughter Elizabeth decided to follow in her brothers’ footsteps and join the cross-country team. She came to me one day and said, “Dad, if I’m going to do this you need to help me.” So in August we began running together. At first we ran only to the end of our driveway and back; a distance of a half mile round trip. Gradually we extended our runs. Soon official practices began and Elizabeth left me. I continued to run on my own, reasoning that it was good for me and I had already made some progress so why stop now?
At the end of the cross-country season my son Adam’s team decided to run in the Living History Farms Race in Urbandale, Iowa. They were in need of a chaperone so I volunteered. As I thought about this up-coming event I decided that I didn’t want to go as a spectator. If I was going to take the time I may as well run. I had been running since August so I thought, “I can do this.” I had no idea what I was getting into.   
The Living History Farms Race is a demanding seven mile race that takes place the Saturday before Thanksgiving each year. The course takes you through fields, up and down ravines and through streams. The atmosphere is electric as thousands of people gather at the starting line. In 2006 there were about 5000 runners, many dressed in crazy costumes for the occasion. The temperature at the start of the race hovered around freezing. I wondered what I had gotten myself into. There were several times during the race that I thought I wasn’t going to make it. I ran the race alone, having been abandoned by the team, in the midst of thousands of runners. I crossed the finish line at two hours and eleven minutes. I was exhausted but felt good. I had been re-infected with the running bug.
After the race was over I talked with my three children and suggested that we all run the race together in 2007. Throughout the following year I trained for the Living History Farms Race. I set goals and pushed myself to extend my runs. The month before the race I was running six mile training runs. I was feeling pretty good. I set a goal of finishing the race under two hours.
The week before the race I hit a major setback. I had a flu shot that triggered a nerve reaction in my left shoulder called Parsonage-Turned Syndrome. The pain in my shoulder was excruciating and debilitating. It even kept me out of the pulpit for one Sunday. Thanks to a neurologist in our church I was quickly diagnosed and put on some strong medications. I prayed that God would allow me the strength to run the race. Just one week after my problems began we loaded up the van and made the drive to Iowa. I woke up Saturday morning almost pain free, dressed and took my place with my children at the starting line.
We had decided to run the race together; a sacrifice on the part of my children who could have easily left me in the dust. The gun sounded and we were off. We ran in pairs keeping an eye on each other and changing the lead from time to time. We ran the first four miles at an 11 minute pace. Somewhere around the four mile mark my legs refused to continue. It was as if someone flipped a switch and turned the power off. I had to stop and walk for a distance. In an act of grace my children walked with me. Within a few minutes I felt my strength returning and we were off again, just in time to hit the ravines and the creek crossings. These turned out to be a blessing for me because they gave me short periods of rest as we had to wait our turn to cross.
Somewhere around mile six Isaiah 40:31 popped into my mind. “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” I was overwhelmed by the significance of that verse for I had experienced it in a very tangible way throughout the race. It was only by the grace of God that I was running at all. I had soared and run and walked. With renewed determination I pushed toward the finish line. As we neared the finish line I looked up at the clock. It read 1:29:28. We had beaten my goal by half an hour!
God has used running as a means of helping me evaluate and refocus my walk with him. There are many passages in scripture that use running as an image of the Christian life. Running the race of life is much like running the Living History Farm Race. It is full of obstacles and challenges. There are times when we get discouraged or tired. There are also times of exhilaration and joy. It is an endurance race, not a sprint. And it is best run with others.  The goal is to run the race well.
In the following pages we will explore what it means to run the race of faith. As you read my words I hope you will reflect on your own race. Let Christ be your coach. Rediscover the joy of running the race for Him and with Him.

That is enough for now. I hope in some way I can be an encouragement to you wherever you are on this journey of life.  

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