I have a confession to make. I am in charge of organizing the 15th Annual Run for Food presented by Golden Valley Bank and I am not a runner. I am not a racer. I actually hate running. It hurts! The good news is that I am working with a seasoned team to put this together and they not only know how to organize a Run for 5000 participants, they also actually run. So, don’t be intimidated. Just join us at our 5k Your Way, 15th Annual Run for Food. Of course, it’s on Thanksgiving.
Despite my lack of running skill, I know all about races. Life’s races. In an organized run, they tell you that it is a 5K or a 10K or a marathon. You know when you train what kind of race you are preparing for. Life’s races aren’t so simple. You might think you are in a race that is short and swift. Or you might think you have the time to stroll and work out the details over the long haul. And, you might be wrong. Totally wrong.
I have another confession. I was offered the amazing opportunity to become the Executive Director five years ago in October. I imagined that this might be an 18 month stretch. I’d come in, hold things together, until the leader for the marathon came along. Fortunately, I was quickly redirected in my thinking by some very smart friends who knew it was no sprint.
Over the last five years, I have held tightly to the verse in Hebrews where Paul admonishes Christ’s followers: “let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross.” There have been days, when my goal was just to make it to the end of the day. There were other days, when I knew the horizon was much longer like the months following the Camp Fire. There have been projects that unto themselves have been marathons, like locating a new home and expanding our services and our collaboration. I often wished I was in a sprint, when in fact we were deep into a marathon in a hail storm.
All of us live in a race: some long days, some quick and short days. We all wonder if we will even get to the rest stop, let alone finish the race. I learn this every day with those at the Jesus Center who work so hard to stay in the race while struggling to build resiliency out of a past of trauma, while literally battling the voices in their heads telling them lie upon lie, and while facing the ravages of a body overtaken with drugs. Their race is hard, very hard.
Our team at the Jesus Center operates as coaches, fans, water deliverers for these racers. They need the courage and the encouragement to take one more step forward. On other days, they are on a roll having found a pace that’s really moving them forward. Our program opportunities help them choose into hope, health, and full transformation. The Jesus Center acts as a personal trainer for each and every one of these weary racers.
Mary came to us to stay in the shelter 4 or 5 times before, in her words, “it stuck.” She finally believed she could be someone and that we could help her pick up the pieces, find her pace, and run her race with perseverance. Today she is coaching others, carrying her own burdens, and finding her own strength in Jesus.
Let’s be honest, we are all running a crazy long and unknown race this year. I hear over and over that we all just want the Race of 2020 to be over. We think that we might get a different course in 2021. But, let’s be honest, we know life is just one race after another. One is short. One is long. One feels like we’ve got our stride. One feels like we’ve hit the wall.
Let me invite you to be on Team Jesus Center. This team is one of hope, love, and strength. We are committed to the long and the short races, and the racers that dare to join us on their path to wholeness and new life. Team Jesus Center is interested in building lives back, encouraging folks to find what’s good inside and building on the little ray of hope. Team Jesus Center is for our community to build programs and opportunities for those ready to change and grow and find their pace again.
We will always be the team that leaves no one behind. We will never give up on the one who is dragging their feet, or the one who sat down in the middle of the road, spent and discouraged. We are a team that believes that everyone can get back up, with a little help, and put one foot in front of the other. We are a team that has room on its bench to welcome back each and every one of God’s beloved children.
Please join us this fall as we continue to struggle with the affects of COVID and the slowing down of the economy. Join us this fall as our community is more about division than unity. Join us as we welcome back the weary and encourage those wanting to become strong again. Your gifts are what give us the headway to move forward with confidence. Thanks for being OUR team!
Laura R. Cootsona
Registration for the 15th Annual Run for Food Presented by Golden Valley Bank is now OPEN! All entries received before November 1st are guaranteed a shirt on race day! Sponsoring the Run shows that you care about our community and that you want to be a positive influence in people’s lives!
Find more information on how to sponsor at RunForFood.com/Sponsors