I Can’t Quite Put My Finger On It

Posted: 01/20/2011 in Musings, Personal Walk, Running, Running the Race, Sermons/Bible Study Revelations

The past couple of days have been spent in recovery from the PF Changs marathon… recovery much needed.

It was an awesome race, and I ran it much faster than my goal time of 4-hours, but my quadriceps and iliotibial band required a decent amount of attention before I felt like walking was a normal activity.

Over the past three days I have been asked quite a few questions about “marathoning,” many of which involved blisters, chaffing or “what kind of crazy” it takes to want to run 26.2 miles for fun.  In the midst of these, I was asked a very simple, but surprisingly difficult, question to answer:

“What is it like?”

You would think I would have been able to articulate the excitement, the pain, the fatigue, the camaraderie, the satisfaction; I only just ran one. No matter how I tried – AND oh, how I tried, I couldn’t quite encapsulate what the experience was like.

“I guess you’ll have to run one to find out,” I finally offered.

But there are a number of things like this: things which must be experienced to understand… situations in our lives that seem to taunt and defy language, where every explanation seems to only be a meager, insufficient approximation of the whole.

I remember asking a friend of the family, as an awkwardly inquisitive 9-year-old-me, “What is it like to give birth?” (wow, only now do I realize HOW MANY obstacles there were to me understanding that one). As a similar question, I have recently wondered about asking my friend Danny what it was like when he first held his son Finn, but I’d imagine that would also be difficult to put into words.

That being said, I feel like I am going to try to rebel against this notion that certain things can’t be explained.  Over the past month I have been asked two other questions that I haven’t been able to articulate a decent response to:

Why is the community & fellowship at The Crossing* so strong?


What does it mean to be a “man of God”?

*The Crossing is the church that I am blessed to pastor.

The tricky thing about both of these questions is that they seem relatively straightforward, until you try to provide a comprehensive explanation.

Nevertheless I want to actually take these on… to prayerfully wrestle, with my limited capacity, to try to succinctly and clearly explore these answers on this blog. If you have any thoughts or ideas please let me know. I’d imagine this will take some time, and I will need some help…

because of that, I would love any and all feedback.

Until then… what question you have tried, with little success, to answer?

  1. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the Crossing and its community, and I think my answer to your question is unmerited love. Dave and Lisa showed me that I didn’t have to earn them. I couldn’t be good enough for that. But neither could I be bad enough to push them away. The fellowship at the Crossing is that of impossible love. It displays in smaller measure the undeserved love we experience from God.

    I watched a video about missional communities that examined the bond that’s built between people working towards a common mission… and while I think there’s truth to that, it excludes anyone who is just hanging out and not working towards what the group is working towards. It places condition on community, but I think the Crossing’s strength is that it’s unconditional. We love indiscriminately. Work with us or not, yet we love.

    • mgmstudious says:

      Katie, thanks for the point about inclusion. I hadn’t thought about it, but that really is going to have to be there if we go forward. “The fellowship at the Crossing is that of impossible love. It displays in smaller measure the undeserved love we experience from God.” I think I’m realizing that it is a work of God, by his grace, that we have this. Here’s to praying for it to continue.

  2. Jordan says:

    Hi Mike,

    Congratulations on your awesome marathon time! That is a feat I don’t think I could accomplish, so I commend you for it! 😀

    I’m going to give you my opinion on why I think The Crossing community is so strong. For me personally, the people at The Crossing are more than just friends or acquaintences, you are all truly my family. It’s significant that I feel this way (and I am sure many others do too) because that type of relationship is extremely hard to come by in most social settings, including churches. I believe that each person at The Crossing, really, truly, genuninely cares for each person there, and any new people they come in contact with. Although each person/family has their own lives/schedules and some live halfway across the country or on the other side of the world, I think that we have made such an impact in each other’s lives that we strive to stay in contact with them about their day-to-day life as well as their spiritual life. (that was a really long sentence… oh well) And it’s not just that they care about each other and want to “be there for them”, but they want to be a part of their lives as well. “Being a part” of someone’s life is more than just seeing them on Sunday or a weekly Bible Study, and I think that is why there are so many coffee dates, lunches, video game/movie days as there are.

    The other most important aspect of The Crossing community and fellowship is that each person is there to learn more about God, how to serve Him and others, and to worship Him in community with other believers. I think that each person is also willing to do what they can to lift up their brothers and sisters, encourage them in their faith and help them when they are struggling. I think that over many a Bible Study and (partly because our core group is small enough to do so) we have become vulnerable enough with each other to share what is truly in our hearts. There have been many discussions, questions, and tears that have come to the surface, but I don’t think any one person is afraid of how they may look, or be thought of because of what they have shared. I believe this is key.

    … I truly miss this type of community, and was noticing how different it is to my church here in Tennessee. When people have prayer requests at Bible Study, some say “unspoken” and that seemed odd to me at first because I am not used to that. When people ask me about my home church, I don’t really know what to say or how to express how much I truly love each person at The Crossing. But maybe now I’ll just read them this. =)


    • mgmstudious says:

      Thank you so much Jordan. I have been taking some notes on it and I love yours and Katie’s responses. BTW It was great talking to you Sunday night.

  3. SRB says:

    I hate questions like “How was Korea?” and “How is school going?” I can never find the answer.

    • mgmstudious says:

      You could say something enigmatic in Korean, and tell them once they understand what you have said they can understand Korea. As for school, you should just pull out your bag of medical supplies (i.e. bag of needles) and say ..” I can show you” 😉

  4. SRB says:

    also i am very proud of you marathoner! you inspire me to run further and faster!

  5. […] I wrote a few days ago, I was asked by a good friend if I thought that he was a “man of God”, which led to […]

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