I had reached the low point of both altitude and attitude. If I’d been a little less zealous on the downhill portion, I wouldn’t have had so much ground to cover before I could limp into the garage, kick off my shoes and gulp down some cold water. Rounding the halfway mark, I took little notice of a runner 100 feet ahead of me. I vaguely wanted to pass him for a boost in morale, but held out little hope of overtaking him before the next stoplight.
My interest was piqued when he got to the intersection and turned up our hill. Knowing I had at least another quarter mile to make up ground, I started pushing toward the now unoccupied bend in the sidewalk. Coming around the corner, I was a bit disheartened to see I had barely closed the gap, despite the fact that he’d been going up an incline for the last 15 seconds.
My final mile and a half was spent racing an oblivious competitor, trying to catch, then get noticeably closer to, then simply stay within sight of, this unknown runner in the lime green shorts. Clearly the stronger runner, he made his way up through Bridle Trails at a brisk, steady pace. Less than 100 yards before our home, he veered off onto a horse trail, and I stumbled into the driveway alone. Looking down at my phone, I was surprised to find that I had run up the hill faster than I had run down.
As I walked into the kitchen and filled a glass of water, I reflected on running with others as a metaphor for fellowship. Paul refers to spiritual life as a race, acknowledging the strong similarity between living righteously and running further or faster than one has in the past. Running together is not just more enjoyable; we push ourselves harder and more often as part of a team. Even though I was “running as if to win” against the mystery runner in the lime green shorts, we were both successful in the end. He ran well; I ran better than I expected.
I was caught off guard, the day before, when I discovered that I’d been followed too. Reading through a stack of notes from students and volunteers at church, I was surprised and humbled by the student who wrote,
Alex and Annie, Thank you for being our leader these past few years. Seeing your love for the Lord and your love for each other is the main reason why I have kept coming to church and continued for follow Christ…
I had no idea how much my pace had meant to this student. I was aware that I was being watched, but didn’t know how desperately I was being followed. How many seemingly small, private decisions made up this apparently evident “love”? Sentiments like that make you glad for every single time you decided not to slack off.
Later in the day, I was faced with a moral decision. I recalled the unwritten blog post that’d been rolling around in my mind all afternoon, “Someone is Watching You” realizing that whoever he was, he wouldn’t see my choices this afternoon…but he would see who I became as a result of it a hundred other “private” decisions. Like the runner who took me home in record time, I wouldn’t be able to rise to unseen occasions; I simply had to run well, training at all times, not knowing who might be training with me.
You don’t know who’s following you. You don’t know when she’s watching or what he picks up on. Just know this: Someone is following you, so bring them home well.