Sunday, April 8, 2012

#402: Running and Resurrection

The Preacher made a very intriguing point this morning. Of all the scenes portrayed in in the Gospels, the one that is conspicuously absent is the Resurrection itself. We don't get to see the stone rolling, the wounds healing, the eyes opening. There's no earthquake, no angelic entourage. It's a moment that is so sacred, so intimate, that we are not privileged to see it. We can only live with the consequences. Maybe that's what makes Easter so holy to the Church, and so unfathomable to the secular world. The event that Christians consider to be the fulcrum on which the lever of history is anchored is completely invisible to us. We can't define it, dogmatize it, or box it in. 

As one of my atheist friends posted on Facebook today, "Come on, people. Jesus is not a Zombie." He's right. Jesus didn't just come back from the dead. Jesus was transformed by death into something completely new, and his transformation was so powerful that everything else changed along with him. Another friend posted this: 
Not to pick a fight, but I'm of the opinion that the Message was more important than the Man. Idolizing the Man is easy. Living the Message is Hard. 
Be hard.
Know what? I think my friend is right. The Man was killed that Friday afternoon. The Mesage, the good, Gospel news cannot be killed. And I also agree that idolatry is easier than living that Gospel. If all Jesus' did was replace golden calves with golden crucifixes, then his life and ministry were meaningless. Resurrection calls us to more than just admiration or gratitude. Christ's victory over death calls us to action. Because of that empty tomb, and the Jesus who walked out of it, we can live our lives in fearless love. Once you've stared down death, there's nothing standing between you and the godly creature you were meant to be except your own will.

So what does all that have to do with a Fat Man running? Everything.

I've never died, but I've met people who have. I met a man who was dead for so long that the doctors were sure he could never come out of his coma. Met him before he ran a 3K road race. Cancer taught me a thing or two about resurrection, too. The scarred, toothless creature typing these words has very little left in common with that 400 pound neurotic lying unconscious on an operating table while the lab discovered cancer in his biopsy specimens. As a trainer with LIVESTRONG at the YMCA, I work every day with people who have been transformed by their victory over death. They are tougher, braver, more determined, and more compassionate than they were before cancer. And they share a special burden.

Because we have lived through cancer, and we know so many who have not, we who are left to fight have a unique vocation. We have been called to give hope back to the world. When you're overweight, and you see someone who should be dead pumping out miles on the bike or swimming lap after lap, it tells you that you can do it too. When a woman who has had most of the muscles in her chest removed is grinding her teeth and pumping out bench presses, she it telling you that you can overcome your own obstacles. When a man who knows he is going to die spends his days visiting with cancer patients, giving them an ear to listen and a shoulder to cry on, then all of us can believe we can overcome our own pain and do some good in the world with whatever time we have left. 

This vocation, this ministry hasn't been given to survivors because we're special. It's just part of what you get when you get your life back. It's hard. And it's the only meaningful purpose for anyone who accepts the gift of resurrection: the invisible miracle of the empty tomb demands that we be about the business of restoring hope to the world.

Cancer didn't kill me. My tomb is empty, too. That's why I run. That's why I fight for other cancer survivors. God didn't give me back my life so i could be the same, miserable, self-absorbed manI was before. Christ is the prototype. Resurrection turned him into a new creation. It can do the same for all of us. And in exchange, we can bring new life, love, and hope to the world around us.

Every runner is an evangelist, whether they want to be or not. People are watching us. Some of them are shrugging their shoulders and thinking, "That's nuts. I could never do that." But others are learning our stories and wondering, "If he can do that, maybe I can do it too." Maybe depression doesn't have to kill me. Maybe divorce isn't the end of the world. Maybe losing my job or my house or my savings doesn't mean my life is over. Maybe there is reason to hope. Maybe I can be a better person than I thought I was.

The Preacher finished his Easter homily with the strangest conclusion I've ever heard to a sermon. He said, "Christ is risen! DEAL with it!" And he's so right. Being a Christian means living as if the tomb is empty: as if YOUR tomb is empty. It means living the message: as if Jesus was right about loving your neighbor and your enemies and your God and yourself. It means knowing that life is a fragile thing, and can be snatched away in the most cruel and senseless ways, and that we need to treat one another accordingly.

It means that the battle against fear and death is one that's worth fighting. If  a homeless religious fanatic from Nazareth can beat them, then maybe you can do it too.

If a Fat Man can run, anyone can. You can. Believe it.

Happy Easter, y'all.


No comments:

Post a Comment

There was an error in this gadget

Label Cloud

mrs p Cancer running lifting weights LIVESTRONG at the YMCA treadmill weight nutrition depression God Living Strong at the Y injury YMCA dogs mom walking radiation Weight Lifting cardio friends program theatre body fat long slow run love One for the Five aches elliptical race resistance bands stretching 5K Acting Jeff Galloway chemo doctor family mental health Church Pittsburgh Marathon bluegrass fundraising inspiration patience personal trainer recovery Flying Pig Marathon Jesus Johns Striders Race Report Run the Bluegrass Half Marathon bipolar frustration kentucky knees measurements morning promatx yoga Christmas Marathon Pennsy's Greatest Hits cats clothes heart rate hope lance armstrong life molly poetry rest side effects steelers swimming 10K Actors' Guild of Lexington Blog CT Scan Coach Carrie PET Scan cross training exercise fear feeling good groin healing ice cream livestrong nausea powerlifting run/walk/run stair climber surgery Cancer Fighter Cold Gear Hills Iron Horse Half-marathon Job LSR Mum Nike+ Shamrock Shuffle 3K achilles advent arboretum bmi bodyweight exercises changes charity circuit training cycling dad deadlift diabetes encouragement experts give up goals horses interval training jake kettlebells lean body mass new rules of lifting pacing personal best plateau prayer recumbent bike research shoes sleep strength teeth therapist toe video Blood Easter Endurance Funeral Garmin 405 Homecoming House Insurance Juicing Keeneland Legacy Night PR Pennsyltucky Pittsburgh Relapse Run This Town TRX Training Values aflac arnold ben-gay bench press chafing christian compression shorts dentist dreams faith fat fatigue foreclosure good day half marathon hospitality javarunner john's run/walk shop lou schuler new year nurse pains peg tube powercage progressive resistance. racing rain rapture reboot runners world squat sun block supplements team pennsy tired weather will rogers work #3rightThings 9-11 ACSM AIDS Aquaphor Blessings Bluegrass 10K CSN Cancer Boy Cedar Hill Charles Dickens Class of 82 Classes Colby Road College Compassion Courage Crowdrise Cystoscopy Dee Diet EFM Epiphany Fall Fartlek Fat Man Fat Sick and Nearly Dead Frankfort Gadgets Gramma Grampa Gratitude Grete Waitz Guest HITT HIV Hell Holding Hands Holy Saturday Homer Horse Capital Marathon IVP Ice bath Jacuzzi James Taylor Jesus wept Joe Cross John Izzo Joy KY LaDonna Leg Day Lent Lessons Lexington Little Pennsy Mental hospital Midsummer Night's Run Mindfulness MobileFit Negative Splits Old Frankfort Pike Pilates Podrunner Pre-race Priorities RICE Railrunner 10 Miler Random thoughts Resurrection Reunion Run Bob Run Run Report Run Review Run for the Gold 3K Running Form Running for Sabrina STUPID Shakespeare Skip Brown Speed Spinning Summer Of Speed Sunrise Supersets Tao Te Ching Thank You The Wall Three Right Things Toxic Passenger UK UK basketball Urine Urologist Victory Walk of Shame Warrior Westminster Whole Foods Wind Words Zumba ace bandages addicted agony alwyn cosgrove america anger antibiotic anxiety awake back baseball blood clots blood pressure body glide bonhoeffer books brad calories chinup colonoscopy consistency crazy cycles dentures dip dr. google dumbbells elevation facebook failure farts feet fight for life fitness forgiveness frankenpennsy fun getting started glucosamine glutes goal gremlin grenz grumpy hair hamstrings hiccups high school hot ice incarnation indian food jogging john lennon joint legacy trail liniment lunges machines maker's mark medicine ball meds mercy motivation motley fool music nature neighborhood new balance nike noah numbers pennsyltuckian periodization persistence phlebitis postmodern prison professional boundaries progress psychiatrist pullups pushups quads ramble rememberance renewal road running ronnie coleman rowing safety sauna scan-ziety sexy shopping shorts shower sick sleepless snow socks spandex star trek statistics steam room steroids stiff strained muscle strap strength training supination support surgeon survive swackett swiss balls table technology tempo terry bradshaw testicular torsion text thai food that's fit the five thighs walk breaks warm up water fitness water jogging weak wedding ring wellness wife winter workout writing yardwork