How God used a baby's high five, Tina Turner, and a butterfly to encourage me
A gift from God
I have been trying to do something that is hard for me to do. It is something I only started in the last few years, something that I never tried to do when I was younger, and something that I never would have imagined I would do. Actually, in praise of grace, I don't have to use the word "trying". I can say that I run half-marathons! I have completed seven and have another on my calendar in just 9 weeks.
It is true, however, that it is something that is hard for me to do. The training takes self-discipline, a personality trait I seem to lack. We live in south Texas where some days the hot, humid weather makes running seem more like swimming. I am not good at setting aside the blocks of time for the training runs and workouts because of a lifetime pattern of leaving "me" time out of my schedule. The main reason, however, that it is hard for me to be a long distance runner is that I am, shall we say, "older" than most of the other people who participate in the sport! "How old are you?" you ask. Well,it was because of my grandchildren that I decided to start running. I love them so much, I want to be in shape to enjoy them!
Some days I wonder if I can keep doing this. Sometimes during and after a long run I feel worthless and spent rather than proud and exhilarant. Friday was one of those days. My training schedule called for 10 miles and the dread of executing the plan kept me from sleeping well the night before. The new electrolyte drink I carried to keep me hydrated was making me feel sick to my stomach. I wasn't su re I was going to be able to finish, but I believe God was doing His thing and sent gifts to keep me encouraged. At mile 7 on the riverwalk, I passed a couple with a baby in a stroller. He was a happy, blond child who reminded me so much of my own sons and grandsons. As I got closer, he stuck out his little hand to give me a high five! Loved it! It put a smile on my face and a spring in my step! A mile further down the road I was on an old, rough sidewalk, a section where I knew I dared not drag my feet or I would trip and fall. Right then the shuffle function on my Ipod served up Tina Turner with her promise of doing "Proud Mary" nice and easy and then 'rough', and I knew the rhythm of 'rough' would be just what I needed. Here I was at mile 8 able to stretch my 2 and 1 run/walk intervals into a couple of 3 and 1's! (note to self: work on playlist of songs for upcoming half!)
So I finished the 10 miles, but I still had a little farther to go to get to the car. I was so tired and spent I wasn't sure I was going to be able to make it. The lot where I had parked by the riverwalk always offers up a beautiful setting of plants, flowers, ducks, and trees but something special caught my eye as I got close to the stairs I needed to climb. God gave me a butterfly! Immediately I thought of my special friend Kay. Her mom, Shelby, had told me story about her dad (Kay's grandfather) and how a butterfly had been a messenger to remind her that her father was near and present with her even after his death. After hearing that story I have always believed butterflies are sent by God. I thanked Him for sending me a gift of encouragement.
What special gift of encouragement has God sent you when you needed it? Romans 8: 31-34 tells us that God is for us, so much so that He did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all and that He graciously gives us all things. Watch for the gifts God is giving you and don't forget to thank Him for His grace.