Crawl. Walk. Fall. Crawl. Walk. Fall. Walk. Run. Walk. Run. Fall. Crawl. Walk.

Crawl. Walk. Fall. Crawl. Walk. Fall. Crawl. Walk. Fall. Crawl. Walk. Run. Walk. Run. Walk. Run. Fall. Crawl. Walk. Crawl. Walk. Run. Fall. Walk.

I think you get the jest. When we begin our lives as infants and finally our parents put us down, out of nowhere we start crawling, to much applause. Before you know it, we pull up on the coffee table and waddle, then walk, to much greater applause. But then, we fall again, so we crawl again. Then we forget about the fall and walk again and before you know it, your parents are shouting, Stop running in this house!

As I walked this morning, I decided to share a little of my story. I normally stay very private about personal matters, because as a Pastor, I see stories that are so much worse than mine. However, I feel that there is a lesson in the story that many can relate to.

In 1989, I had my first back surgery. As embarrassing as it was, as a 29 year old with a ruptured disc, I experienced crawling again after 28 years of walking and running. However, after this surgery, I recovered very well. But after 10 years, that unwelcome pain ran down my spine and down my leg. After trying physical therapy and just all out being brave, I was more than ready for relief. So in 1999 I joyfully agreed to yet another back surgery. I remembered waking up and being pain free. After a few days of recovery, I was well on my way. In fact, I preached the first sermon in our new Church building 5 days after surgery!

For the first time in a long time, at 39 I felt so good. It was during this time that I developed a passion for running. My life went like this. Eat. Run. Eat. Run. Eat. Run.

Running was as good for me mentally as it was physically. It became a big part of my prayer life, as I would run with no phone and no one to talk to but God.

There were times that I would run with my Son, and I watched him develop a passion for running also. (Now he runs marathons.)

For 17 years I ran and was relatively pain free. But then, there was the dog. The dog in my neighborhood on a road that I normally never ran. As he barked and growled and showed me his teeth as he was on my heels, I panicked and tripped and fell. I quickly went from running to bleeding to limping to yes…crawling.
Of course, I was more frustrated than I was injured I thought. But then, the pain would not go away. I began injections and therapy and on and on. I would get better for a while then get worse.
As a private person that lives a public life, back problems is something you can’t hide. I would go to the mall with Ann and have to sit down every few minutes.

So after a year of this misery, I tracked down my neurosurgeon and he immediately saw the problem on my MRI and said he was sure he could help me. He gave me three choices. 1) Continue to hurt. 2) Keep getting injections. 3) Surgery.
I chose number 3. So, in June of last year I had my third back surgery. As I awoke from the surgery I wasn’t pain free but I felt so much better. I had to remind myself that I was 56 and not quite as young as I used to be. However, after a few weeks, I began to live pain free again. After about a month, I asked my Doctor if I could run again. He said, start by walking. So I did. It felt SO good. Then when I went back again, he said you can start running now, just be smart.
Well, be smart meant to me, as long as you are not hurting, keep running. Within a month I was back up to 4-5 miles a day. I was averaging 25 miles a week. Then because I could run, I did others things too, that included lifting and bending. Then it happened again…
The day after Labor Day, I could hardly walk, and I sure couldn’t run. After weeks of pain, I agreed to yet another MRI. Excruciating leg pain and walking all bent over, made me very frustrated, so back to the back doctor I went. He said, let’s give it a little more time. I’m so thankful for his wisdom, because that gave God a little more time to bring healing also.

Today, January 25, 2017, I am much better. The leg pain is 90% gone and my back is only sore.

Remember in the beginning of this blog, I said, this morning as I was walking?
Here’s the main reason I felt to write this blog. My Dad is a 76 year old wise man. He is a man of few words, so when he speaks I feel a great need to heed. He said to me, I think you need to stop running. I feel like you are creating damage by the beating on the pavement. I admit, those words stung a little, because I love to run. But, I love my Dad more, and the Bible teaches me that I need to honor him. Yes, I know I’m grown and I’m a 57 year old man, but I am heeding his advice. I want to live to be an old man, and God has promised me if I honor my Father and my Mother that my days will be long. So, until he tells me I can run again, I will just walk. Yes I will walk as fast as I can without breaking into a jog.

When I was running regularly, I certainly wasn’t the fastest, but I did run a 26 minute 5k, which is about an 8:40 minute mile. Today I walked a 5k distance in a 14:56 minute mile. Yes, it took me almost twice as long, but I feel good and I know that I am on my way to being pain free, and not just enhancing my physical health, but I am using this time to also pray and enhance my walk with the Lord. I may never get “permission” to run again, but thank God I can walk!

Now, the spiritual application that I want to give you is this. As you crawl, walk, fall, crawl, walk, run, fall, walk, throughout your life, listen to your Heavenly Father as well as your earthly Father. Remember that He knows all about everything that you are facing. Also remember that there are thousands of people that would love to trade problems with you, because all of us are living out our own life lessons.

It’s my prayer for all of you, that no matter what cross you are bearing, that you know your Heavenly Father doesn’t require you to be the fastest, but He does require you to finish. And even though I can’t fulfill all of this verse right now, it is still God’s Word.

Isaiah 40:31
But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

All I can do now is WALK, but I will walk and not faint, as I wait on my Heavenly Father to renew my strength so I can mount up with wings as eagles and RUN
and not be weary.
And when my Heavenly Father gives me that strength, I know my earthly Father will be listening and he will say, RUN TOMMY RUN!

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