So... I'm sitting on the side of the road replenishing myself with water about an hour after collapsing (blacking out for I don't even know how long) of dehydration/heat exhaustion. Here's my story...
It was the St. Louis GO! and I was running with hundreds of others from my church, The Crossing, to raise money for Living Water International, an organization that digs deep water wells in remote areas in the world that have to walk 3+ miles to get dirty water. It was my first half marathon (13.1 miles). I never thought of myself as a distance runner but I felt a nudge from God to pour out my heart for those that walked over 6 kilometers daily just to get clean water.
After training in the cooler weather of winter thousands of dedicated runners are going up the hills in the heat. I didn't feel my best three-five miles into it but I usually push past that point and keep going no problem. Maybe I just started too fast? I was doing a pace to finish in about 1:45 so I scaled it back to around 1:50. That felt better.
Yay! I had finally gotten up the big hill! I was a little over 8 miles into it and I don't remember what happened next. Luckily, Kelly, whom I've run with (and was on my team), saw me go down out of the corner of her eye. Two guys grabbed me on both sides. (Wow, I wish I could thank them!) She stayed with me while the guys ran ahead to get help. She said they were protecting me as if I was their own sister. She said I kept talking and saying I need water. There was also a police man/Dr that helped me. Shortly after another amazing woman on our team, Lisa, came up to me and told Kelly she knew my husband and that she would stay with me.
She stayed with me for most of my recovery time, which was about an hour before she went and finished her marathon. I am so grateful and humbled to be so well cared for.
I am cared for...
The depth to which God has shown me how cares for me through these people is amazing.
So after getting some water in me I was helped into the cooling bus. I'm barely able to focus my eyes or move. I down a water bottle and don't even realize it's all gone. I went through four plus bottles of water and a fruit leather I brought with me. Everything looks weird...it takes me so long to text Rob because I could hardly figure out how to use my hands (Lisa had been calling him with updates). I can't remember all that I rambled off to Lisa but I think I remember blubbering something like, "I'm so full of pride" or "what did I just put my family through?" (It was starting to hit me that somewhere along the line, during training, I realized I could run faster than I thought. It became more of a focus than it should've been...because darn it, I'm competative!) The water does the trick. After a good long bit Lisa sees that I'm stablized and as she's making eye contact to truly tell if I'm okay, I let her know it's okay to go. We kinda say, maybe I shouldn't finish. But deep inside I just couldn't live with that and became determined to finish...if I could just get off the bus?
I call Rob. I tell him I want to finish even if I have to sit there for a while longer. I get cold and finally make it off the bus. My legs and arms still look weird to me (because my eyes still aren't fully functioning) but the warm sun makes me feel better. It's here, sitting on a curb gaining strength, that I feel God speaking into me more than ever. Stuff he wants me to focus on/do next, how he is taking care of me and always will, how I can trust him with every detail that I struggle with. It wasn't like an audible voice or anything crazy like that, just a whisper within my heart. He also starts flooding my mind with idea after idea of artwork that I hope to do for him. I told him how weird it was that I'm sitting here running for water and I had none...I realize in a tangible way that people need it to stay alive...I need it. My dad spoke into me just recently, "What I hear you saying, Andrea, is that you are an artist that happened to be fit enough to do the half but it is not your passion. It's not where you feel God's pleasure."
This may be hard to understand but to me it was God's strength and mercy that made me ready to run again. Right as I'm about to start running my dear friend, (a different) Lisa, saw me and asked me if I was done. I told her, and her running partner the story as we all ran the last few miles in together. We crossed the finish line in just under 3 hours. I had a water bottle in each hand serving as a reminder of the needs of others, and my need for him.
It's as if coming out of the darkness and seeing 'the light again' woke me up to the needs of others in a new and fresh way. Because of that realization I'll be doing the word "Alive" in 30 different spontaneous ways for the next 30 days. I will be compiling them at the end. (Like my Facebook page to follow) I like what Jesus says in John 8:12,
"I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." -Jesus
At that moment I gave up focusing on me in order to use my abilities to love and connect with others without any agenda of my own.
I'm feeling a deeper calling and my body is overcome with sobs b/c of the intensity I've been feeling the last few days - while worshipping (with Kim Walker-Smith's, "I Still Believe" CD) and also reading His Word and journaling.
Every time I get distracted by my own self-pity/disappointment in getting dehydrated and not finishing the way I wanted to his presence shows up again and melts my heart and reminds me of what he's placing on my mind to do for him and those he loves. He literally had to stop me in my tracks to share this message with me.
"Andrea, you are not a failure. You were obedient to what I asked you to do. It wasn't about how fast you ran the race, it's about you serving and loving people...you may have thought you were loving others but now I know you are."
At that moment I gave up focusing on me in order to use my abilities to love and connect with others without any agenda of my own. May my life be poured out to help others see your light that can make them come 'Alive'. So much for mascara today, anyone got a Kleenex?