August 12, 2013

A Runner's Focus

By Upper Room Books

The Rev. Art Gafke serves as a retired United Methodist elder in the California Nevada Annual Conference. Living in Las Vegas, he has been a leader with Nevadans for the Common Good, an interfaith, broad-based community organization.  This year NCG helped win a major victory against child sex trafficking in Nevada. Art recently published two books.  Pray the Seasons presents pastoral prayers from University UMC in Las Vegas.  Strong Ministry applies principles of community organizing to pastoral ministry.  Both books are available in e-book or print formats.

Disciplines: A Book of Daily Devotions is a longstanding—and beloved—resource published by Upper Room Books every year. Each week’s readings are reflections on scripture passages in the lectionary for that period.

In 2013 you can not only read these daily devotions but also comment on them, ask the writer a question, and respond to others who are reading the same material each day. We are looking forward to building a community of Disciplines readers! Just sign in and add your comment in the Comments section following the Monday blog post.

Each Monday an introduction and the initial reading for the week will be posted. Come back to this Monday post throughout the week to continue the conversation about the week’s readings and prayers.

Read Hebrews 12:1-2

Each year in July, the Badwater Ultramarathon populates the Mojave Desert of Death Valley, California, with approximately 90 of the world’s toughest athletes and their supporters. Covering 135 miles from Death Valley to Mt. Whitney, California, in temperatures up to 130ºF, this race is the most demanding and extreme running race anywhere on the planet.

The race requires that the runners be disciplined and focused. They practice their art of running all year long in preparation. Each runner requires a legion of helpers along the way. The conditions are life-threatening. Each runner must learn how to run in severe conditions.

In the same way, we must learn how to run our own race in the face of threatening forces. We are reminded daily of threats to our well-being. We can succumb to the forces that challenge us, or we can focus and live our lives as graced by God. The difference comes in how we run. Disciplined focus, a community of support, and prayerful reminders of God’s grace form the core of the how.

Once the Badwater Ultramarathon has begun, runners probably consider giving up. Running day and night leaves ample opportunity to stop or quit. Some do leave the race. In our lives we, too, can choose to leave one race and begin another one. Regardless, we pick up our lives and continue to live out our days a step at a time.

Staying focused on what is most important calls for discipline and practice. God’s grace surrounds us throughout our race, not simply at the end of it. This constant grace makes our running possible.

God of desert and forest, of heat and cold, we are thankful for the race that we get to run. Sustain us with your grace. Amen.


One Response

  1. Sandy says:

    You have an amazing ability to relate spiritual dimensions to the nitty gritty details of daily living and under gird my day with powerful reminders of God’s grace. Thank you.


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