Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Moving Mountains

On Sunday, Pastor Piper, beginning a likely 10 year series through the book of John, said that the disciples were skeptics; it took them three years to believe that Jesus was the Christ.  I like that.  Belief based in skepticism.

There is talk in the Bible about moving mountains: if one has enough faith, they can move mountains; in Job, God moves mountains;  in Isaiah, valleys will be lifted and mountains made low; in the future, mountains and islands move. 

I've never seen a mountain move.  I've thought, "Yeah, during creation, the Ice Age, mountains probably moved.  And there are volcanoes that are basically moving mountains."  But I've always struggled with mountain-moving, and similar, references in the Bible.  It's easy to dismiss these as figures of speech.  But I'd much rather believe in a God who can literally move mountains than one that hides behind grand promises of vague realities.

During the Leadville 100 race, I wanted several particular mountains to move.  One song I listened to, Mighty to Save, seemed to taunt me:

Everyone needs compassion
Love that’s never failing
Let mercy fall on me
Everyone needs forgiveness
The kindness of a Saviour
The hope of nations

He can move the mountains
For my God is mighty to save
He is mighty to save
Author of salvation
He rose and conquered the grave
Jesus conquered the grave

For the last two weeks, my wife has spoken only one sentence to me as we lie in bed at night: "Can I read you just a little bit of this?"  She was reading, The Worst Hard Time, by Timothy Egan.  It's a "can't-put-it-down" history of the 1930s American dust bowl and Great Depression.  I've started it and can't stop thinking about it.  From the first pages, I've sat stunned.

What does this have to do with mountain-moving?  
From The Worst Hard Time:
"A Sunday in mid-April 1935 dawned quiet, windless, and bright. In the afternoon, the sky went purple - as if it were sick - and the temperature plunged. People looked northwest and saw a ragged-topped formation on the move, covering the horizon. ... As the black wall approached, car radios clicked off, overwhelmed by the static. Ignitions shorted out. Waves of sand, like ocean water rising over a ship's prow, swept over roads. Cars went into ditches. A train derailed. ...  
That was Black Sunday, April 14, 1935, day of the worst duster of them all. The storm carried twice as much dirt as was dug out of the earth to create the Panama Canal. The canal took seven years to dig; the storm lasted a single afternoon. More than 300,000 tons of Great Plains topsoil was airborne that day."

I was stunned.  This was no figure of speech.  It was a mountain moved.  In modern times. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

100 Miles & Meals for Children

100 miles...
Two previous attempts at the Leadville 100 Trail Race.  But that's at 10,000 ft, and lots of climbing.  

Oct. 4  50 miles in Wisconsin on the Ice Age Trail
Oct 5   24 miles to Minneapolis
    26.2 miles in the Twin Cities Marathon

... to see if I can do it; to raise money for a great charity.

I asked my children what charities.  They immediately said Loose Change to Loosen Chains15 year old Zach Hunter's organization to end modern-day slavery and Feed My Starving Children.  Both of these organizations are "powered" by teenagers, a growing phenomena encouraged and championed by teenagers Brett and Alex Harris.

We chose Feed My Starving Children, right here in the Twin Cities.  FMSC assembles meals for starving children for 17¢/meal.  

Can you help? Do you want to donate a dollar, 20¢ per mile or a lump sum?  If so, please let me know the amount.  Once I'm done, whatever is left of me will contact you.  You can either send donations to me to pass on or directly to FMSC (see their website).

Monday, September 8, 2008

Crazy Ideas

      Oct. 4   "Underground" 50 Mile Run through Wisconsin.
 +  Oct. 5  Twin Cities Marathon
76 miles

I figure that since I won't be running Twin Cities to break any time (fast time) records, the real issue is to cross the finish line before they stop giving out Finisher shirts.  Worst case scenario, I can walk the entire marathon and most likely make the deadline.  Therefore...

+ 24 miles (Stillwater to Minneapolis, Metrodome)
100 Miles in 30-32 hours  (I've been inspired by all those Superior 100 runners!!)

Here's how it might work:

Awake at 4:30am and drive to Luck, WI.  Carpool to the Ice Age 50; start running at 7am.
Finish the 50 miler around 7pm in Luck, WI at the Wren, a very classy coffee shop.
(My son, Eli, will join us for the last 10 mile section.  Also, Erik from church may join us as well as Mitch from the Dead Runners.)  Eat and socialize until 8:30.  Drive home, plug in the Garmin and cell phone, and go to bed around 11pm.

Awake at 2:00am and drive a few miles to the Gateway Trail; start running at 2:30am.  Run to St. Paul, down Summit, over the Franklin Bridge, through the Univ. campus, and arrive at the Metrodome around 7:30.  Desperately search for as much food as I can find before the 8am Wave 1 start.  I'm sure I'll look like a pre-winter squirrel!

Start the official marathon at 8am.  Runners have until 2:15pm to finish in order to get a shirt and medal.  That's a 13:44 pace.

Charity Purpose:
Such a run must have more value than just a sore body.  My first ultra was a 50 mile, midnight to noon run.  I asked friends to donate for each mile to a Pro-Life group.  We raised about $900.  

I asked the kids what charity this run should support.  They suggested two that are much better than anything I would have thought of:
• Any organization whose purpose is to free modern-day slaves, as encouraged by Loose Change to Loosen Chains; an organization founded by teenager Zach Hunter.
Feed My Starving Children; Emma spent a Saturday packing meals for this organization.  17 cents sends a meal overseas.  
Each of these organizations is fueled by teenagers.  My children have been challenged lately by the Harris Brothers to rise above the typical teenage apathy of our culture and do hard things.