Isaac Mulgrew is a guest author at Strong Towers. He's a young man who's already taking the deep dive into who God says he is and what he is made for. Isaac kicked off our series on Challenge with his inaugural blog post, and now provides an intriguing and challenging next chapter in the story of running the race God has set before him.
Recently I have been wrestling with believing in God’s goodness and kindness. In the past couple months I have been bitter and distrusting towards God and his plans for me because life hasn’t gone the way I would have preferred it. Through training for the North Face Endurance Marathon, a full length trail marathon, this struggle was brought fully into the light. Recently I had written on Strong Towers about the challenges my training was bringing about and how it made manifest the areas I was lacking in. This is a a follow up on what God revealed to me on race day and the week leading up to it.
My training, a lot like my life currently, did not go as planned and was a bit messy. I got really sick one month with the flu and pneumonia and ended up missing a whole month of running. Another month I suffered a nerve injury that put me out for a couple weeks as well. I finally started to settle into a rhythm towards the end of my training block when yet another thing went wrong. I developed a terrible pain in my left knee which forced a month long taper instead of a week. The whole time I was still fighting God and was angry with Him for where I was in life as well as in my training. Why couldn’t at least one thing go right? I began to have serious doubts about whether or not I could even run the race, not to mention finish it. So instead of going to God with my anxieties and doubts, I made a last ditch effort to see my physical therapist. I thought, “He’s got the final word, if he can’t fix my knee then I won’t be able to run.”
So on Wednesday morning, 3 days before the race, I went to my appointment. It did not go well. What I’d hoped would be an easy fix turned out to be much worse. In Andre’s words,
“Uh oh, that’s not good.”
“What? What’s wrong?!”
“You tore your quad, bud.”
Are you kidding me?! I was so discouraged. I put all my faith in that appointment and walked out so defeated. If I wasn’t truly doubting God’s goodness before I surely was now. That night I went to bed pretty down thinking that I would miss the race after everything that had happened.
However I had a dream, a vision of a familiar place, that night. I was running up a dirt road with Jesus when my left leg gave out. I dropped to the ground in pain and immediately attempted, in vain, to pick myself up and carry on up the hill. I couldn’t. I was too weak and the pain was too great. I was sitting in the dirt as shame and failure swelled up inside me. All of a sudden, Jesus knelt down and scooped me up in his arms. He began to run up the hill while carrying me when he whispered in my ear,
“my strength will carry you through.”
“Will you let me carry you?”
“Will you believe in my kindness?”
For the next 2 days leading up to the race all I heard from God were those questions. Echoing truth that slowly began to renew my trust in him. This wasn’t just about the race anymore. He was making me a promise about my own life. That he would carry me through, that his kindness reigns in my life even when I rebuke it. I began to grow excited about race day. There was so much mystery and uncertainty about that coming Saturday morning and at the same time I was so full of God’s peace. I began to believe it in my heart that he really would see this through with me. That his strength would carry me.
Come race day morning. I had already picked out my race kit, Track-smith bottoms and a running singlet to match, obviously, and I was super anxious to get to the start line.
It was a beautiful spring day, the high was 64 degrees and it was sunny and breezy. A perfect day to race. 9:00 couldn’t come quick enough! We were finally all ready to go. As the gun went off a smile cracked on my face, that of pure silliness and joy. I could still hear Papa’s voice asking the question,
“Do you believe in my kindness?”
“Yes, I do Papa.”
On April 27th, I completed the North Face Endurance Challenge. My very first marathon in the books. I owe it all to Jesus and his strength, presence, and kindness. I felt him with me the entire race. When I began to hurt, my smile just got bigger because I knew it was God’s strength and not my own. Even through the presence of pain, the Lord’s joy was insurmountable. I ended with a sprint finish that I’m proud of and a kind embrace from my family. Papa had fulfilled his promise to me and did not abandon me even though I doubted him. Since the race I have still been struggling with inviting him in and trusting him. However it will forever stand as a constant reminder that through anything and everything God will provide his strength and joy and carry us through our greatest challenges.