Running for God – Salvation by Christ Through Running by Rebecca Garcia

In the Bible, in John 5, there is a story of the man healed at the Pool of Bethseda. The story is of a man that had an affliction for quite a long time and was lying near RGarcia1the Pool of Bethseda. It was believed that the pool had healing properties and every so often an angel went into water and stirred it making the water rise and whoever entered first would be healed of their sufferings. Jesus was travelling through and Jerusalem came to the pool where encountered the man that had been lying there for 38 years. How many of us can relate to this scenario, where something is wrong and we are waiting for something to change, some miracle to happen? I think we can all identify at some point with that man lying therenot taking any action, maybe even feeling sorry for oneself; distraught over his or her situation. We often times fall victim to taking on a “whatever will be, will be” attitude. So many of us live below what God has in store for us, but as children of God we are created in his image and we are intended to do great things in His name.

By the Pool of Bethseda there were a great many people; blind, lame, paralyzed and sick waiting for the water to rise in the hopes it would reach them so they could be healed. When Jesus encounters the man that had been lying there for 38 years he cuts straight to the point and asks him a simple question, “Do you want to be well?” You see Jesus already knows this man’s story, he knows the man’s heart and he also knows what great plans he had for him, just he knows our story and everything about us. It is a simple question, direct to the point, and Jesus is asking it of you and me. Jesus died for us. This means our debt is paid, that we are the free, forgiven and justified children of God. This freedom and redemption means we are no longer victims of circumstance. We need to make what Jesus has done for us bigger then what has been does to us. Jesus is telling us to take up our mat and walk.

We all have a story to tell, the question is will you turn over your life in order to have a better story? This is a part of my story. Jesus Christ is the author, it’s a riveting tale, the final chapters are still under construction, but the ending is sure to be the happiest of all; eternal life, seated at the right hand of my God.

Before I started running, I could never run and I hated it. It was hard, I was fat and I always got that shooting pain in my side. Growing up I had to overcome trials that strengthened me and gave
me the tools I would need for the life I was set to lead. By the time I got to high school I had a big chip on my shoulder and didn’t want to be there, or anywhere for that matter. I had made a friend who was in most of my classes and lived up the street from me, she was always urging me to go to Wednesday night youth group at her church. I wanted nothing to do with it because I wanted nothing to do with God, but she would not let up. She was also on the cross-country team and when I asked her about it she encouraged me to give it a try. I don’t know what I was thinking but I decided to give it a go. Much like I do with most things in my life, I then became instantly obsessed with running. If I had a bad day, I’d go for a run.  If got into a fight or was angry or depressed, I’d go for a run. Soon I began waking up very early before school to run in addition to my afterschool training for the team. As time progressed, I spent time with  my friend’s family and it became a family effort to try and get to me go to church. I eventually gave in and began going to not only youth group on Wednesday, but also Sunday school and church services every Sunday. This was just the beginning of the better story God had in story for me as God and running would become the two biggest passions in my life.  And running would be the very thing that would connect me to God.RGarcia3

In the summer of 2000 before my senior year of high school when I was 16, I was baptized with my boyfriend. I was surrounded by friends, family and loved ones sharing this special day with my boyfriend who I thought I’d be marrying and spending the rest of my life with. A short time later one darkest days in my life occurred. On September 29, 2000, when I was 17, before school while running on the treadmill listening to the news when I heard the news report that would forever change my life. My boyfriend had been in a fatal car accident. My life came crashing down around me. At first I reached out to God and my church family but it quickly became too painful for me to be in the place where we would stand hand in hand worshiping without him. Even my release of running began to fail me as I would run by spots where my boyfriend would have waited for me early in the morning to surprise me just so he could see me before school. Nothing could comfort my pain, nothing could stop the hurt; I was angry and broken. I became a victim of circumstance. I turned my back on God because that is what I felt like he did to me. My grades fell and I wasn’t able to participate on the cross-country team, I dropped out of school because I didn’t see a future for myself. All I wanted was for things to end; I even made a feeble attempt at suicide.

That chip on my shoulder was back, it was big and heavy and it was weighing me down. I had a death wish and I lived my life recklessly. In 2003,  God had had enough of my hijinx and answered this wish, in his loving all knowing power. He knew what was really in my heart, and death was not the answer. God had bigger plans for me; He was not done shaping me yet to do His work. It was time for me to stop lying by my pool of misery and get well.

I have a crystal clear memory of that late Saturday night, when I was 19, on February 9th on the way home from Hollywood with a couple of friends, me in the back seat. The car we were in had a mechanical failure and shut down. There was no place to pull over where two freeways come together, no way to get to the shoulder, so we were stopped in the gore point, the tiny island between the merger of two freeways. We were scared. I reached for my purse to grab my phone instinctively feeling the need to call my parents. That’s when I saw the headlights coming right for us. They tell you if you are more relaxed you tend not to get as injured in a car accident. I saw those headlights I froze with fear, I stiffened up and I called out to my friends, “Oh God a car!” In that moment I was calling out to God also. There was a bright light and it was loud as we were spinning across the freeway. It happened so fast, and when it was over both of my friends in the front were unconscious. I remember instantly thinking they were dead. I tried to reach down to unbuckle myself and I was screaming at them to wake up. The driver woke up first and then the passenger. That’s when the pain set in. When I had seen the lights and stiffened up it caused me to break out and up through therear window, saving my life. The car that hit us had been coming full speed and rear-ended us. I could have shot straight up to the ceiling and fatally broken my neck, but that was not supposed to be my story.RGarcia4

I had broken my hips, my pelvis, part of my lower spine; my right hip had been shattered where a portion of it had come completely apart. Instantly I had gone from having that death wish to begging God to save me. I cried out to God and Jesus asked me, “Do you want to get well?”

On Valentines Day 2003, I had surgery on my hips; they installed hardware to repair my right hip. They did an exploratory surgery on my abdomen because my organs had gone into shock and my stomach had stopped working. The doctors told me running would no longer be an option. I should be thankful to be alive. They said my recovery was going to be a long and difficult road. I spent my 20th birthday in the hospital. Although the pain continued to be excruciating I was determined to prove those doctors wrong, I vowed that I would run again someday, and I knew God would provide the way. I was in the hospital for about a month and in that time I spent a lot of time watching TV, and I came across an infomercial for a Pilates DVD. After viewing a few times I ordered it because it looked like something I could do my hospital bed. Once I got out of the hospital, I did my Pilates DVD morning and night, coupled with my physical therapy and I was able to walk a couple months ahead of the doctors time line. Hallelujah! Throughout my recovery I was constantly reminded that God’s grace was sufficient for me, His strength was made perfect in my weakness.

In the coming years I spent some time figuring things out, I went back to college, I started going to church again and as time progressed and my pain eventually became tolerable I began going to the gym. I turned my life back to the LORD and trusted in his perfect plan for me. I still had it in the back of my mind that I was going to one day run again. By 2006 I had transferred from a junior college to a university and found the church where I remain a member of to this day. I began regularly attending and rekindled the joy I felt in worship, the strength I needed was not only physical but spiritual as well. One summer afternoon I decided to try and go for a run, praying God lead the way I laced up and went for a run. As I ran I experienced no pain, only indescribable joy and freedom so I continued on and on. I think I ran for almost an hour, long enough to get a sunburn.RGarcia2

After that day I continued with my running, completing my first half marathon, the Santa Clarita Half Marathon in November of 2007. My first full Marathon was in March of 2008. This year I hit my 50th half marathon, and I’ll be running my 6th full marathon.

I continue to run with endurance the race set before us looking to Jesus the author and finisher of my faith. Running is my way of praising God; it is my personal time of worship with him. When suffering becomes unbearable, fix your hope on future deliverance and future glory, the things of this world are temporary. Take it from me and don’t become a victim of circumstance and spend your life lying by the pool. Jesus is bigger than any problem of this world. Choose to get well, chose life everlasting, choose Christ. Any suffering we face will be far surpassed by the future glory that awaits us; anything we know now is fleeting.

I chose to get well, and God chose to strengthen me to run again. I choose to use my running, my story, as my testimony to spread the word of Christ. I do not think that any of the things I have gone through have been in vain. I realize now that the Lord has been spiritually training me, so that I may use my gifts to reach out to others and share the gospel, for I know I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, and you can too! #everyrunisablessing #runforGod

Rebecca Garcia believes every run is a blessing. Besides running and God her passion lies with animals. She has a deep love for all animals and strives to lead a life that is free from animal exploitation by avoiding all animal products.

Read more about Rebecca at EveryRunIsABlessing.blogspot.com

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