Monday, June 6, 2011

Running For A Purpose

Larry Dearlove is a Ratanak Volunteer who runs marathons to raise awareness and funds for the Newsong centre ---a rehabilitation centre for victims of child sex trafficking that Ratanak has the privilege of funding. In his mid 40s, Larry has only run 5 marathons in his entire life and amazingly this past April he qualified to run the Boston Marathon and completed it in 3 hrs 25 mins. Below are his reflections and what God has taught him as he seeks to run for a purpose! 

While walking around downtown Boston the day before the race I passed an enormous Renaissance Church with a sign that read 'Marathoner’s may you always have a tail wind.'  This referred to the upcoming race and life in general,  as it is easier and much more pleasant running with the wind at your back than directly into it.

Bob Dylan wrote a song in 1963 about some of the injustices he saw in History at this time.  Here are some of the lyrics.

How many ears must one man have before he can hear people cry?
How many deaths will it take till he knows too many people have died?
How many years can some people exist before they’re allowed to be free?
How many times can a man turn his head pretending he just doesn’t see?
He stated the answer my friend is blowing in the wind, the answer is blowing in the wind.

Almost 50 years later we can ask the same questions of so many problems in the world’s current state.   I do not believe there is any one answer; however I feel we all have a role to play and are called to be a part of the solution.   My answer seems not to be blowing, but running into the wind.  This past week I thought of the weather conditions of my 5 races, 4 for Ratanak.  All except one had winds of at least 50 km/h.  Boston does not use the Metric system.  The winds were 50 m/hr or 80km/h when I ran.  As the sign on the Church says I do wish for an easy life with the wind always behind me.  My experience at trying to make a difference more often than not I seem to have a very strong wind directly against me.

Training for a Marathon has been the most challenging yet spiritually rewarding time of my life.  Training for a marathon is like running to the edge of a cliff and trying to stop yourself just in time to look over the edge.  If you push yourself to hard you fall over the cliff, injure yourself and cannot take part in the race.  If you don’t push yourself hard enough, you start but do not finish the race.

The Boston Marathon sent me an official booklet Congratulating me for finishing the race.  In the booklet it mentioned 3% of the runners who started that day did not finish.  These were not beginner runners, a fellow runner told me on the bus ride to the starting line 'you have to be in the top 10% of Marathon runners just to make it here.'  I remember seeing a man lying on his back at the 40 km mark with blankets covering him and medical staff all around him.  I thought of how close he had came to finishing the race, but his body would not let him.

 Three things I do not miss about training for a Marathon:

  1. Looking at my calendar on Sunday night and trying to plan a week of training around work, weather, being a father, being a husband.
  2. Sleeping with ice packs under whichever body part seemed to need it the most.  This year my right hamstring won the prize and received most of the attention for the three months leading up to Boston.
  3. The Spiritual opposition that is hard to explain, but if you have experienced it than you know what I am talking about.  When things are really tough I feel like the disciples did in the boat with the storm threatening to drown them.  Right now I am enjoying a period of calm waters and although I know when things are very tough I must be on the right track to have such a strong opposition I do not miss this at all.

  Two things I miss:

  1. Nature, this year on top of every other animal you could imagine seeing while running down a ravine I saw two new ones.  Deers and Coyotes.
  2. Nature’s Creator I will miss.  My most intimate and creative moments come while I run for a very long time down my Ravine.
Twice in training I had runs planned for longer than I would sleep that night.  I think they were my two best days.   The first day I thought of how absurd this was running for a bit longer than 3 hours while only sleeping for 3 hours and asked the question why?  Why would I do this?  Why did this not seem like a sacrifice?  Why did I actually enjoy this?

 A David Crowder song came into my head and I sang it for almost all of that run.

  How He loves us
  He is jealous for them
  He loves like a hurricane they are His tree
  Bending beneath the weight and wind of His mercy
  When all of a sudden I am unaware
  and I realize just how beautiful they are
  and how great Your affections are for them.

This chorus is sang three times.  At first David Crowder’s voice is low the words are sang slow.  The music speeds up and by the end he is singing very fast with so much passion it seems as if his voice will break.  At the end he signs the chorus at least twenty times.

And oh, how He loves them
Oh how He loves them
Oh how He loves them all.

This summed up to me God’s Love for the forsaken girls in Cambodia, and the portion that has been given to me.   This was the last song sang in Church that day and to me it seemed as if all of Heaven was singing along.

I have been married for 14 years.  I know my wife very well and she knows me.  The evening before my longest run Gloria asked me what time I was waking up at?  I mumbled something purposely incoherent because telling a nurse what I had planned may have caused some tension. As I started running I noticed the Moon was still out and the Sun had yet to come out.  I had to change my scheduled run as running down the Ravine in pitch darkness would not have been wise.  I ended running up Centennial Ski Hill in Etobicoke.  At the top of the hill I saw one of the most incredible views of my life.  The Moon was setting on one side of the hill, while the Sun was rising on the other.  

I thought of Cambodia in the times of 'The Killing Fields' as the darkness ruled for 24 hours a day 7 days a week.  I thought of Brian and Ratanak International entering Cambodia 20 years ago bringing light into this darkness slowly but surely.  I really yearned for and prayed for the day when Jesus throws the forces of darkness out of Cambodia and takes His rightful place. The view was so incredible I could literally see for miles.  I thought of Jesus being taken by satan to the heights at His weakest moment, being shown and offered the World and refusing this offer.  I think of how many men I know who have sold out for power and prayed I do not fall into this trap.

Next I was shown that disgusting pedophile from the English documentary our group had watched the day before.  The old man who bragged about how tight the girls were when he raped them.  The same man who at the end who tried for sympathy by pathetically claiming he only taught the girls English and what would his daughter think?  The same man who without boasting if I saw that day would have been in very serious danger.

I was shown this man’s final Judgment and felt God wanted me to pray for him and I resisted.  I struggled for one day before finally giving in.  I am grateful to say I have not been called challenged like this again. Running an actual Marathon is quite different than training.  My experience has been it is not if the pain will occur; but when. 
My first Marathon I remember running beside a dog park when a huge doberman started snarling at me from the other side of the fence.  My sense of humour was still intact as I thought if this Dog hops the fence instead of fighting it or running away I will offer it my leg than I can stop running.

Last year’s Mississauga Marathon I felt part of a fierce Spiritual battle.  I ran the last 14 kms with 5 different muscle groups cramping at the same time.  I reread my journal last week and three days after the race I still did not know if I was injured as both of my legs were so sore.

In Boston the pain came earliest.  At the six mile mark both of my legs starting hurting, my right foot like I had broken something.  I remember thinking to myself great I have 20 miles to go and every step of the way hurts.  But God sometimes uses our pain for his purpose.  At the 3 mile mark a lady held up a sign that read 'Remember the reason why you are running!'  For the last 20 miles every step reminded me of the girls and their pain that doesn’t last 20 miles or 3 hours, but may last a lifetime.

My original plan was to run one Marathon for funding and awareness.  I believe I am starting to see why I have face such strong spiritual opposition.   Two people in Toronto have told me they were running some kind of race for Ratanak after hearing about me. Two ladies in Buffalo contacted me asking questions on fundraising and other issues.  They were also running for Ratanak after hearing about me.   A man from Calgary asked me similar questions which I answered, and also directed him to the iRun magazine in which they published his story.

Last year Brian asked for permission to forward one of my writings to Steve Norman Ratanak U.K. to be used in an article also to encourage a lady who was running in the Belfast Marathon for Ratanak.  I do not know if it is from me, or her, or whoever but I saw on a Ratanak prayer guide 36 people took part recently in a run for Ratanak at the Belfast Marathon.  At a prayer meeting Brian spoke of how he felt God was calling him to follow.  Brian could see the dust on the Horizon knew that it was God and tried to keep up. I like this because God is not standing still and is looking for people to follow.  My experience has been not to keep up with God but to follow His lead.

In closing, my introduction to Brian was in the form of an email I sent to him.  An old U2 song’s lyrics had struck me.  The song is 40 based on Psalm 40 and mentions 'I will sing, sing a NewSong' many times.  I thought of the NewSong Center and Brian still searching for Sung.  He shared a personal story with me and said 'all I need now is for U2 to hold a benefit concert for the NewSong Center'.  I know this is a dream but I am Irish, and Irish can dream.

Being in Boston to run in the Marathon is hard to explain.  It is something you have to see for yourself, or something you have to experience.  The day before the race the whole City is abuzz with excitement and anticipation, carrying my official bag back to my Hotel room complete strangers are coming up to me and wishing me luck.

500,000 people came to Boston to watch this race. 125 Million dollars was generated for the City. I am not Irish but I had a dream in Boston.   I saw one day set aside in the many parts of the World that Ratanak International has reached.  I thought of Mississauga, Vancouver, Cambridge, Saskatchewan, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Buffalo, Calgary, Ottawa, England, Ireland, Australia, and even Cambodia.  I saw The NewSong girls taking part in their own 5km walk; a day when people around the World take the time to walk or run in support for the ones who cannot.  A day that is coming.

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