There's just one thing about Dee. She hates to exercise. Hates it. Yet, this Sunday, Dee is going to run her first ever full Marathon.
How did a couch potato who hates to exercise become a marathon runner? Well, I'll tell you.
It all started back in November of 2009...See, Dee has a nephew, Joshua, who loves to run. He lives for Jesus, but he loves to run. Suddenly, in the blink of an eye, this fine young Christian man could no longer run. In the blink of an eye, with the grinding, screeching sound of twisting metal and shattered glass, this fine young Christian man lay fighting for his life.
They weren't sure at first if he would even survive, his injuries were so severe. The worst injury of all was to his brain. Traumatic Brain Injury, it is called. And it is often fatal. They didn't know if Joshua would live, but he did. One night, then a second, and a third. As hours stretched to days, and days to weeks, when it appeared his life was no longer in jeopardy, Joshua's long, slow process of rehabilitation began.
He was completely helpless at first. He had to learn to walk again, to talk again, even to swallow again. He was like a newborn baby --starting over at 17. But he persevered. Buoyed by the prayers not only of family and friends, but by strangers who heard his story and felt moved by it, he slowly regained his strength. He slowly began becoming himself again.
Throughout all of this, Dee was by his side, in spirit, even when she couldn't be physically present. Throughout all of this, Dee --as so many of us in that situation do--felt helpless. Felt as if she could only stand and watch.
But Dee realized that there was something she could do. She could run. She could run for Josh:
So, Josh, when you can't run, we'll run for you. When you can run, we'll run with you...and all the time, we're running behind you! Run, Josh...Run!!!And in doing so, she would find a way to tell his story. If she could just inspire one person to pray for Josh, she would accomplish her mission.
Love beyond measure!
She began entering races --short ones at first, but races nonetheless. She hated it. She cried. She threw up. But she ran, because she ran for Josh. When it became difficult, and she wanted to quit, she thought of Josh, who couldn't quit, and she kept running. When the pain became too great for her to bear, she thought of Josh, who had no choice but to endure, and so she endured as well.
After her first 5K event, Dee wrote this (which I copped from her Facebook wall):
...and I run...because you can't, Josh...I run FOR you...there's more life for you to live...more for you to give...and I run...and every step, I cry. My heart is SO heavy for you. My heart aches for you to get better....and run.
I run...and I cry. People are watching from the sidelines. They see my little homemade flier on my shirt. They see your picture...and I cry. People are cheering. "Good job," they say. "Keep up the good work!" "You can do it!" "You're almost there!" they cheer....then I hear these sweet words, "We're praying for your Josh!" and I run....the road is straight...but it's full of bumps...and it has a slight slope up...but I can do it...and I run....because I run FOR you...because you can't...just yet.
Now, some 16 months later, Joshua has made significant improvement. You can see his story in this video.
Sunday Dee will run her first full marathon. She will cry. She will throw up. She will whine and want to quit. But she won't. Because she runs for Josh. And when the pain gets too great for her to bear, she will think of Josh, and she will remember that he can't quit, so she won't either. She will keep running, and she will finish the race.
Because she runs for Josh.
But what Dee may not realize is the impact she has had on those around her. She may never know what impact her shining example of completely Christlike love has had on someone who may not even know her. She may never know how many lives she touched until that day when she hears, "well done, thou good and faithful servant."
Until that day, she will keep running. She may think she runs for Josh, and she does, but really, she runs for Jesus.
And great will be her reward.