Running Blind

One of my absolute favorite passages in all of Scripture is Hebrews 12:1-3:

1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

The image is so vivid and clear.  We are all running the race and we must do so with our eyes on Jesus or we will lose focus, get discouraged and possibly give up running.  But we don’t run alone, and in fact I would say we can’t run alone.  We have a “cloud of witnesses” who have run the race already and a guide who knows the way to run, even when we don’t.

This past week, I saw the most heartwarming story.  It really touched me, and then it made me think.

The story is about a young girl in California who has joined her school’s track team and is training to run the 800 and 1600 meter races.  Which wouldn’t normally make the news, except that this girl is blind.  She has been blind since birth, but that hasn’t stopped her from running.  The other girls on the team run alongside her, helping her through the race.

Rossi runs a mile, Todd runs with her, gently guiding her with the gray belt that is connected to a thicker black belt around Rossi’s waist.
When Rossi slows, Todd forsakes her own training schedule and slows.
When Rossi speeds up, Todd runs even faster to watch for bumps and curves.
When Rossi grows breathless and has to stop, Todd stops too, even if the sophomore could use more work.
“At first I wondered if this was the best thing for me,” Todd said. “Then I realized, this is not about me.”
She smiled, and you want to wrap the sports world in this smile, one born of the basic instincts of teamwork, one that glitters with the very best of sport.

Go and read the story and more than that, soak in the picture that is with the story.  If you are an old softie like me, you might even cry.  But there was an something else that caught my eye.  It was a quote that the young girl gave in answer to the other girls:

The girls ask if she gets scared running in an eternal dark.
“I’ve never seen anything, so I don’t know what’s there, so it doesn’t matter,” she said.

This made me think of the kind of trust we should have in God.  We may not be able to see where the race is taking us, but the One who is guiding us knows and He is trustworthy.

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Categories: Bible Thoughts, Christianity, church, devotional, Discipleship, Love | 27 Comments

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27 thoughts on “Running Blind

  1. Terrific post!

    I could not imagine running distances like that without seeing!

    But you are so right!
    That’s exactly how it is for the Christian who walks by faith and not by sight!

  2. I’ve tried merely walking around with my eyes closed, just for the experience. It’s terrible. I can’t imagine RUNNING blindly. When I close my eyes and attempt to walk, my heart beats faster and faster…I get nervous and my adrenaline starts pumping.

    No wonder I have a hard time following god.

  3. Hope,
    I did an exercise years ago with a youth group where I paired them up and had one wear a blindfold while the other one led them by voicing instructions to get through an obstacle course. I have done the same exercise and it is a great reminder that we must trust God and His view rather than our own. People can let us down and lead us astray, sometimes with the best of intentions. But God’s Word and His Spirit will get us through.

  4. I had to do that exercise when I joined marching band my freshman year. We call it the “trust walk” the juniors and seniors have to pick a freshman to team up with. It’s a good team building skill, really. But of course, we make them do stupid things rather than actually follow an obstacle course.

    Can I ask you this? I read the bible quite often, I do. It bores me. What am I supposed to be looking for? People always tell me that “God’s word and his spirit will get us through” but I’ve tried that…and it never really does a whole lot for me. What am I doing wrong?

  5. Yeah, it kinda depends on how much you trust the person who is leading you I suppose. Some people make me more nervous than others.
    And your question is a good one. What are we supposed to be looking for in the Scriptures? In one word, God. Let me explain what I mean. A lot of people read the Scriptures to prove a point or to “find God’s will for their lives” or looking to find something. And I am not saying that those things aren’t good in some ways or even necessary. But the point of reading the Bible is that it is God’s revelation to us of who He is. God wants us to know Him, not just know about Him. There is a big difference.
    Let me give you an example. I loved Rich Mullins as a songwriter, but I loved his perspectives on the Bible even more. At one of his concerts he was talking about reading Mark and said this (Mark chapter 10 by the way):

    His disciples were humiliated! And they said “You should not be making such a fool of yourself!” And I love this, Jesus says, “Here, look, look fellas. I’ll call the shots here. I may be dumb, but I am God. And I’ll tell you what else, if you wanna come into my kingdom, you’ll come in like one of these or you won’t come in at all.” What is remarkable is that in all three synoptic Gospels, the rich young ruler comes up immediately afterwards and asks the stupidest question in the Bible, which American Christians in the twentieth century perpetually ask, and it’s such a hack off. “Good Master, what must I do that I might have eternal life?” And the reason this is such a ridiculous question is because while this young ruler is coming up with this brilliant question for his big photo-op with the Master, the Master had already answered the question.

    Jesus had just got done saying he must be like a child, or he cannot come into My kingdom. And this guy comes up and asks “what must I do?” It’s not what you do. It’s what you allow Christ to do. This young man was so arrogant that when God Himself spoke, he didn’t bother to listen.

    And here’s the amazing thing in the Gospel of Mark, which you know is the briefest of the Gospels. And anytime you come across a detail in the book of Mark, take note of it, because he didn’t waste time. He gives us three details that the other two synoptics leave out. He says this amazing thing – that Jesus looked at the man. Jesus, who was God, is so humble, that when this man, who was a mere mortal, who would like you and me someday be dead and no more, and would just stink up the ground for a while and then that’s it. This man would not listen to God, but God is so humble that He took note of this man. He looked at him. And when God saw him, He loved him. And it was because God loved Him, I think, that He spoke.

    Some of us are so afraid that God’s not going to look at us. So we’re out there doing all sorts of things to get God to take notice, but folks, God notices you. The fact is, He can’t take His eyes off of you. However badly you think of yourself, God is crazy about you. God is in love with you. Some of us even fear that someday we’ll do something so bad that He won’t notice you anymore. Well let me tell you, God loves us completely. And He knew us at our worst before He ever began to love us at all. And in the love of God, there are no degrees, there is only love.

    Read Scripture and see the real people in it and the very real God who loves them and who loves you too. He tells us His story with them, because they are no different from us. And He loves us the same and wants us to know that love. Does that help any?

  6. I’m not sure if it helped or not. I’ll let you know the next time I go to read.

    I know that god “loves me” and I should desire to know him more, but when I say the bible bores me, it really bores me. I ask so many questions that never get answered as I read. I confuse myself. So I give up. This is all in the time frame of maybe 10 minutes or so. It’s a vicious cycle.

    But I’ll try…I really will…

  7. The Bible is not a question and answer book really. It is a book that will always leave us with more questions than answers. The reason is that God is not like us when it all comes down to it. He love us and wants to be with us, but He isn’t going to fit our expectations or our desires necessarily. Let me give another quote from Rich, because I like the way he puts these things:

    Which is the thing about the Bible… that’s why it always cracks me up when people say, “Well, in ‘du du du du du du du duh, it says…” You kinda go, “Wow! It says a lot of things in there!” Proof-texting is a very, very dangerous thing. I think if we were given the Scriptures, it was not so that we could prove that we were right about everything. If we were given the Scriptures, it was to humble us into realizing that God is right, and the rest of us are just guessing.

    By the way, I am curious; what part of Scripture are you reading?

  8. What a great story! Thanks so much for posting it. The description of the “guide” slowing down or stopping when needed or pushing forward when Rossi sped up so she could spot the obstacles made me think of how God doesn’t force me forward but is patient, always staying with me, even when I’m in a spitual stall.

    And in my college Baptist Student Union, we did trust *falls*, and I actually did get dropped, which I suppose defeated the purpose of the exercise. Still, I laugh about it—and I did then, too.

  9. Teresa,
    I got dropped during a trust fall once too, by the youth group I was ministering to at the time. It was funny after I was able to get up off the ground. I tried to use it to illustrate that we should put our faith in God and not men because men can (and in this case did) let us down.
    And I like your insight about God not forcing us onward. He is patient to let us run at our own pace and what a great thing that is.

  10. Well, I read all the gospels a couple times. James, Romans, Acts, and now I’m reading the Johns. Well I finished the Johns, but I didnt get much out of the last two so I’m re-reading them to see if I can figure out how it applies to me, at all.

  11. I don’t know why I didn’t remember that from your blog. Have you ever tried reading in Proverbs? They are all kind of one-liners more or less, but there is a lot of practical wisdom in there as well. I think the important thing about reading the Bible isn’t trying to read a set amount (although reading all the way through a gospel or epistle or one of the shorter books can be helpful to understanding the big picture for that book). I think it helps, like in the case of the gospels to read and imagine yourself in the story. How would you react? What would you think? When Jesus says that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, what do you think the disciples faces must have looked like? It is in those moments that we learn something more about God. At least for me that’s what I have found.

  12. Yeah, I’ve read the entire Bible at some point or time. But not since I’ve returned to Christianity in the past few months. So yes, I’ve read Proverbs before. If that is what you’re suggesting I will go through it.

  13. I think it might be helpful. One of the things that I did for years was read a chapter in Proverbs each day. There are 31 chapters so I just took the day of the month and read that chapter. What I found was, different verses would jump out at me that applied to a situation I was going through and gave me wisdom in how to deal with it. Whatever verse jumped out at me that day, I would sometimes write down so I could look at it later on or mark it with a circle or something and the date. For a while, I even kept a journal that recorded those verses and maybe what it meant to me at the time. That journal is something I treasure today, because I can see my own spiritual growth in its pages.
    By the way, if no verse seems to “jump out at you,” don’t worry about it. But when one does strike you as coming at just the right time, you will know what I mean.
    Actually, I went and read chapter 28 to see what I would see this morning and verse 26 struck me as a good one for today, “He who trusts in himself is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom is kept safe.”

  14. Thanks for the advice. I will do that. I’ll get back to you in a month or so and let you know how it is going.

    Any other suggestions? To get me started?

    See…I know the basics, but I don’t “grasp” things…does that make sense? Like I know a lot of information, but I don’t know how to tie it all together….It’s quite frustrating.

    So any advice, at all, I’m open to.

  15. When you say “grasp” things and put them together, I am trying to get a better feel for what you mean. Are you talking about in the sense of studying a passage and learning what the writer is trying to say in that passage and how it connects to the rest of Scripture type of “grasping” or trying to apply it to here and now or both? Is that the direction you are talking?

    I don’t want to overload you with a lot of instructions or anything. Let me think about a good book that you could check out or see if I can find something online that might be good as a tool to help.

  16. When I say grasp, I mostly mean believe. I often find myself rolling my eyes (not literally..) at some of the things the Bible says. That truly does bother me. Does that answer your question?

    I’m reading the Case for Christ right now (well, I put it on hold because I’m reading a book for school right now…). But dont worry about overloading me…

  17. I get where you are coming from now. I am not surprised that you find unbelievable things in the Bible. Face it, there are some pretty unbelievable things in there. I believe it now, because I trust the One who revealed it to us; but that took time.
    I mean, do you remember the story in Numbers 22:21-35? God used a donkey to rebuke a prophet who probably should have known better. We are talking about a talking donkey and it doesn’t even seem to faze Balaam in the least. He talks back to it. Of course this is incredible and hard to believe. There was a time in my life I would have questioned it. But in all candor, God has proved truthful over and over again and for that reason, I don’t have a hard time believing it anymore. In fact, I get encouraged by the old joke about this story. If God spoke through a jackass before, he can certainly do it again, and I think I can name a couple of instances (j/k) He might even choose to speak through me (although that doesn’t look as prestigious anymore now does it.)
    If you want, I can also find some resources that help with studying the Bible on a practical, how-to kind of level as well.

  18. See…I think its almost on the verge of absurd and unintelligent to consider stuff like that plausible. It makes me think something along the lines of: “Is god on crack?” It’s not even stuff like that though. It’s serious stuff I have a hard time grasping. Like Jesus being god, why Jesus talks to god if he is god, salvation, baptism, deeds/works vs grace, god in general, god in the OT….ya know…big things. Not just stories like a talking bush, donkey, etc.

    I dont want something that talks to me like I’m five, but I’m willing to get help…if you know what I mean.

    If you want, we can take this to email? bryngelsonhope@yahoo.com

  19. We can discuss it through email if you want, but I don’t mind using the comments here as long as you don’t care if other people wander by and read our discussion.
    I threw the talking donkey thing out there because it is one of the most bizarre stories in my opinion, but I find it credible, because the rest of the Bible has show its credibility to me time and time again.
    A lot of the stuff you are talking about is perfectly understandable. Even the disciples had a hard time figuring out how Jesus could be God and they hung out with Him for three years solid. It wasn’t until he rose from the dead that they even started to get it. It is actually one of the most authentic things about the gospel accounts: the fact that they constantly remind us that the disciples didn’t understand what He was saying until much later. I mean, most people would want to look good and say things like, “I was the only one who understood Him at the time.” But universally, they say over and over again, “we didn’t know what He was talking about until after the resurrection.” Look at how many times they record Jesus telling them bluntly that He has to die, and they are surprised that it happened. And He told them he would be raised back to life. And they were surprised that that happened too. The gospels are not the work of some guys trying to create a religion; they are the product of guys who are telling what happened to them, so that we will know about the person who made it happen, Jesus.

  20. But at what point will I begin to understand? How do you measure faith? How do you make your faith grow? Everyone keeps telling me to pray and read…I’ve been doing that…it isn’t growing.

  21. How did you measure your growth physically? By the way you have changed over time. Sometimes the change is so gradual that those around you and you yourself don’t notice it. My kids are constantly growing and I don’t seem to notice it as much as the grandparent who hasn’t seen them in 6 months or a year does. The comment is always, “they have grown so much!” And I don’t see it because it has just happened slowly. Spiritual growth is like that. People who knew me years ago, know how far I have come.
    I think I mentioned my journal earlier in the discussion. I stopped writing in it and then found it several years later. The difference I noticed in my life was striking. Spiritual growth isn’t an “instant product,” it is much like growing physically. Sometimes it can come in dramatic spurts, but that is not the norm for anyone. Spiritual growth is a journey day by day. I have a great book that helped me to “get” this concept and you might try looking for it. It is called “A Long Obedience in the Same Direction” by Eugene Peterson. It can serve two purposes because it is a Bible study of the Psalms of Ascent (Ps. 120-134) and a practical understanding of discipleship as a lifelong pursuit.
    You can already see some growth if you look. You have grown from disregarding God completely to seeking to know more about Him. That is growth.
    I don’t know if you keep any kind of journal, but I would encourage you to write down something about what you read in the Bible. Don’t get too reflective on it yet. Just write your thoughts down and then go back in a year’s time and see if there isn’t a noticeable difference.

  22. Hope,
    What you are saying really hits home with me. I am working with a guy right now, as a disciple/discipler type thing. He came to faith in Christ about a year ago now, and more than once has been discouraged that he hasn’t changed that much. But, I can see the huge changes in his life. Has he made mistakes? Sure. But he has also grown in his faith and if he ran into the old him from a year ago, he would be able to easily see the difference.

  23. Jeff,
    I suppose the majority of my frustration roots from the people around me. They tell me that I should repent and instantly will be changed. That’s what I’ve been told. They tell me that if I “really loved god” I’d change instantly. And if I don’t I’m not really saved. Also, I get frustrated because I used to be a very devout Christian. I went through a stage of doubt and whatnot after and it’s affected my thought process a lot. I guess what I am saying is that when I look at the old “me” (as a christian) and the new “me” it ticks me off.
    My thought process has changed a bit, but that happened way before I even accepted god back into my life. But thanks for the story about your friend I can relate to him.

    As for the journal? I dont really keep one. I write notes as I read (I think I may have mentioned how ridiculous of questions I ask…). I ask a lot of questions, and write down a lot of thoughts. I’ve filled one journal full of questions yet to be answered. Do you know how frustrating that is?

  24. I suppose the majority of my frustration roots from the people around me. They tell me that I should repent and instantly will be changed. That’s what I’ve been told. They tell me that if I “really loved god” I’d change instantly.

    Hope,
    I am sure these folks love you and mean well, but there is nothing instant about discipleship. There isn’t a single verse of Scripture that I can find that promises your life will go from sinner to saint in an instant. God does change your heart and gives you His Spirit, so that you are a different person in an “instant” so to speak. But learning to live as a Christian is a lot like learning to live as a human. It is one of the most used analogies to compare a new life in Christ to infancy and growth in Christ to maturing. No one expects a baby to be born one day and running a marathon or writing a book the next. (Please note that I am not calling you a baby in any way)

    Your notes are kind of what I mean by a journal. I remember you mentioning some of the questions on your blog about 1 John, and I understand your frustration I think. I still ask questions of God and don’t get an answer. There are some questions that have been asked for thousands of years and still haven’t been answered. My suspicion is that we wouldn’t understand some of the answers, even if God told us in plain English. The reason I say that is that I understand more as a parent of three kids how God must feel sometimes.
    Parenthood is a great eye-opener to some of the Bible’s truth let me tell you. Sometimes, my kids ask me questions that I know I can’t answer in a way they would understand. If I can simplify the answer, I do. If I can’t, I just tell them to trust me. Sometimes, even when I give the answer it just sparks another question. Does this sound familiar?
    Hang on to the questions. It may be that you find some of them get answered down the road as you learn and grow. It may be that some of them never get an answer that you can find or understand. Honestly, I would be more worried if we could figure out all of the answers to the questions we have about God. He wouldn’t be God if it were easy for us to understand and explain Him. He would just be another fine myth that someone made up.

  25. Yeah, it sounds familiar. I’m a never ending book of questions. I think me coming to the point where I am ok with the fact that I have questions and reversing the thought that questions=doubt=little faith=not saved…then I’ll be ok.

    Thanks for all of your help and advice. I appreciate it a lot. Anything else come to mind?

  26. Yeah, maybe at least one more thought. I am generally full of thoughts. 🙂
    I was looking at the “equation” you wrote, questions=doubts=little faith=not saved. It reminded me of the disciples really. You just described their three years with Jesus in a nutshell and they turned out pretty well when it was all said and done. You might even have a leg up, since you aren’t afraid to ask the questions. They had lots of questions that they were too chicken to verbalize. And Jesus never said we needed “big faith.” He said that faith the size of a grain of mustard seed was more than enough, and if you have ever seen a mustard seed, you will know that it isn’t real impressive for size.
    So, you can put a little “not equal” sign in between the last two.

  27. You might be right. You probably are. My mind just isnt wired that way yet.

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