Refill with Randy – encouragement helps others get through tough challenge

Posted 13 March 2023 at 8:15 am

Good morning! Grab your favorite cup. Fill it up. And lets start this day right… TOGETHER!

“I get by with a little help from my friends”  – The Beatles

Back in 2011 some members of my church decided to start a Couch to 5K program for the community called “Run 4 God”. Some of you may have participated as it was very popular at the time. The goal was to get people physically fit in time to finish The Strawberry Fest 5K. As the pastor I felt like I should be supportive and participate but, as someone who was out of shape and had never felt the desire to run without being chased, I was also dreading the process. Sure enough, it was a hard fought battle but come June I ran the race and even beat the Strawberry! And just like that I was hooked.

I continued to train with friends and increased my distance. By the end of the summer one of my favorite routes was to run from my home to Albion Free Methodist Church, which was exactly 3.1 miles (5K), where I would meet up with a friend to run the Strawberry Fest 5K route and then I would continue on back home. I actually enjoyed running longer distances enough that when some friends invited me to run the Hospice Dash Half-Marathon with them that September I accepted. I was feeling pretty confident having run 10 miles a couple of times already and figured one more 5K (13.1 miles total) added to the end wouldn’t be that big of a deal.

Fast forward to September 24th when I am running with a crowd through Fort Niagara exactly halfway to the finish line at exactly the 1 hr. mark. I was feeling fantastic and then, a little while later when the Runmeter App on my phone said I had hit the 10 mile mark ahead of schedule, I was even more elated! But then it happened, after running almost 2 miles more I stopped dead in my tracks as I saw the “You made it 10 Miles!” sign and realized that my app must have been malfunctioning. I still had 3.1 miles to go and it felt like forever. I just stood there feeling like my feet were stuck in tar and all of the thirst and pains I was able to ignore when I thought I was almost done overtook me and made it difficult to walk let alone run. Eventually I got moving again and sputtered along for the next couple of miles but when I still couldn’t see the finish line I stopped again feeling exhausted and discouraged. And that’s when my friends showed up. 

Having already finished the race well ahead of me my friends had run back to where I was and started cheering me on and telling me that the end wasn’t far off. As they ran side by side with me I picked up the pace and soon enough I was crossing the finish line with a still respectable 2:24 time. What my friends did for me was they gave me hope and they let me know that the end really was in sight which helped me to persevere and finish the race. (On a personal note – one of those friends was Wayne Burlison who finished his race not long after when he died from colon cancer. For anyone interested there is annual race run in his memory held on March 25th. Sign up here.)

Fast forward to last Saturday where I had the privilege of bringing some friends from the First Baptist Church in Medina, where I am currently the Interim-Pastor, to help out on the Hands 4 Hope Street Ministry Truck. For anyone not aware, H4H is a mission run by my good friend John “Jack” Burris and a trusty core of helpers, including Kevin Lemcke and Brian Stewart, where we drive the big blue truck to a different part of the County four Saturdays every month offering food, clothes, prayer, and HOPE. 

Yes… hope. Just like I needed others to come beside me to encourage me and let me know that I could make it to the end there are those in our own backyards and neighborhoods who may have hit some hard times and need to know that they are not alone—they are seen, they are cared for, they are prayed for, and they are loved. Offering hope to others isn’t often convenient, my friends found this out as we battled through the ice and snow from the storm the night before, but it is worthwhile and I would encourage any of you to make the effort. 

Whether you volunteer some Saturday at Hands 4 Hope, help out with another local mission like the OK Kitchen, or simply stop by a friend’s home to offer them encouragement for what they are going through, you can bring hope to someone which might be all they need to persevere past their current circumstances. After all, “we all get by with a little help from our friends.”

See you in two weeks!
Pastor Randy