I am a runner. To be honest I am a jogger that has occasionally entered short running races. I have never come close to winning. Finishing was the goal. My only reward for racing has been free ice cream, bananas, chocolate milk, and a couple of “good job” medals. For the most part I have enjoyed the thrill of running with friends more than the thought of actually turning in a good time. So I guess this hobby is more about fellowship and fun than athletic accomplishment or physical testing. I am not a runner. I am a jogger… When I feel like it.
Randy Pierce is a runner. I mean he is a real runner. Today he is running his 4th marathon this year and is competing in the Boston Marathon on Patriots Day. Just getting in that race proves to the world you are a runner. He will finish the 26.2 mile run in less than 4 hours. That is amazing to me, but most amazing is that Randy is blind. That’s right. He is blind. He has been blind since he was 22 due to a neurological disease that over the last 20 years has caused him great affliction. For almost two years he was in a wheel chair because his cerebellum was damaged. After six surgeries he was off and running. And mountain climbing (he has climbed every mountain in New Hampshire). And mudding (he ran in the California Tough Mudder and finished in the top 10 percent over all!). He is a national champion distance runner for blind competitors. That boy is a running fool!
So how does someone blind run 26.2 miles without falling or getting off the path? Randy will run with a walking stick connecting him to a lead runner. He will hold one end of the stick in his left hand and the lead runner will hold the other end with his/her right hand. His lead runner is actually a husband and wife team. Husband will run 12.4 miles and wife will finish it. (She is the faster runner). Together they will set the pace and keep Randy on the course to be able to finish the Boston Marathon. That’s right. Today in Boston a blind man will enter and complete one of the most important marathons in the country and he will do so in less time than it takes me to drive from my house to Dallas. Unbelievable!
Most of us run blind at times in our life. We can’t see the course and we can’t keep from falling. We need someone to help us run that race. We don’t want to not run. We don’t want to give up. We just need some help. We need a lead runner giving us direction and keeping us on course. We will gladly run if the conditions are right and someone will run along with us. Parents do this for kids. Spouses do this for each other. Pastors do this for the people they shepherd. Good leaders do this with anyone who will let them lead them in the best way forward. There is no shame in running blind. Shame only comes when we refuse to accept the gift of guidance that others are willing to provide.
But we can’t run blind forever. At some point we need to learn to see the path forward and be able to run it on our own. Except for one very important and critical detail that can never be forgotten or ignored. Here it is. Get ready. IMPORTANT NEWS: When we realize that once we were running blind and had the help of others to guide us, now that we can see the course clearly, we must become the lead guide for others on the path. We can’t just run along alone and taking care of our self. Someone else desperately needs our eyes – our vision – to help them run the race of life that is before them. Without our “eyes” they will fall. They will fail. And when they fail, we fail.
It is never ok to run the race of life alone. We can run with the help of others. We can run while helping others. And we can run alongside increasing the pace and performance of others through competition and comradery. But no one should run alone. No one. Running should not be a solo sport.
Today, in my life and in your life, there are people blinded by their addiction, their ambition, their self-righteousness, their disease, their anger, their greed. And these are people we know and love not New England strangers. They are people that we wish could run along beside us and enjoy life. People that perhaps in the past has set the pace for us and guided us on the course, but now they are blind and just about to quit running. What can we do to help them? What can do to guide them? What can we do to get them back on the course?
We can’t give up on them.
We can’t ignore them.
We can’t leave them to themselves.
We can’t run off and leave them.
We have to run with them. And we have to help them stay on the course. They are blind!
Maybe it is your child. Maybe it is a lifelong friend or sibling. Maybe it is someone who is a leader in your community, work, or church. Maybe it is parent in crisis and about to lose their children because of their bad choices and management. Maybe it is you.
Running blind is not easy, but it is possible. Blind runners may never win the race. They may never push for a strong finish. They may never garner the attention of others who are impressed by their style or stamina. Finishing is the goal. Maybe a t-shirt or a medal or a free drink will be their only reward for overcoming the blindness that has captured their life and put them on the sidelines. Get them in the race. Run with them. Lead them along the course. Blind running is in these days and we need more blind runners and lead teams than ever before.