Marathon Memories (4)

The preacher at mile 6

By mile 6 I, and those around me, had been running for an hour. It was getting serious. Our bodies were beginning to complain. Then, there he was at the side of the road with a big Bible in hand, leather for sure, a booming voice and a wagging finger. He bellowed at us about God’s judgement and wrath and how everyone was headed for destruction. It was the end-of-the-world-is-nigh and all that.

At first I was angry. It’s people like him that give people like me a bad name. More importantly it’s people like him that put people off and confirm their worst fears about religious types.

One thing 26 miles does give you though is time to think. Think I did, and with that came a certain amount of admiration. Here was a man who probably believed something very similar to me, namely that without Jesus people are lost and without hope. I admired his passion. I admired his willingness to put his money where his mouth was. I admired his determination to help people discover what he had found. This preacher at mile 6 has something to teach me.

If I may be so bold though, I think I have something to teach him. I think I could teach him a thing or two about the importance of relationships in evangelism, the need to be wise in the way you act to ‘outsiders’ and the importance of making your message accessible and understandable. I know all the theory. But that is so often the problem with me, it’s theory.

I would be nervous about meeting him because if we were both asked the question ‘what are you doing to save people around you from a lost eternity?” at least he would have an answer. I might only have theory, and that’s not good enough.

On April 17th 2011 I ran the London Marathon. Here’s why. You can donate here (this page will close on 17th July 2011). You can read more marathon thoughts here (once they are published).

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