I struggle with how to write this, because the last thing I want to be is disrespectful. And I love Jesus. But our interaction this morning was incredibly awkward.
You must remember me. I was the solo runner at the park to whom you handed a tract. Actually let me back up. I had just finished a 100 meter sprint on my 2 mile circuit run and was in a painful recovery jog when you rounded the corner. Now I’m not surprised to see elderly folks walking at the park; it happens often. What I wasn’t expecting was the incredibly quick movement you made to block the path as I neared, arm outstretched. For all the room you left me, you may as well have straightened your doctor-prescribed, Star Trek sunglasses, and slammed your walking stick into the blacktop while shouting “You Shall Not Pass!”
Let me explain some of the runners’ rules to clarify why what you did was problematic:
1. A solo runner runs solo because he’s not out there for conversation. He wants to be left alone. He’s not out there to meander about for an hour while burning off the equivalent of a chocolate chip cookie. No, he’s out there to thrash his body. I repeat – he wants to be left alone.
2. Breaking a runner’s stride is rude. Like walking up to someone on a treadmill and saying, “Hey Isaiah, haven’t seen you in forever, how’s it going?” At that point, I want to aim my water bottle at your head.
3. I’m wearing shoes and running shorts. Do you see pockets anywhere on my body for a tract? My only option is to hold it in my hand while my sweat gradually reduces it to pulp.
Now, I’m thankful for your zeal and love for my soul that you want to reach out to me, but you don’t know me. We have no relationship. At least proffer the tract in my direction, acknowledging my choice to take it or at least grin and pant out “I love Jesus” as I blow by. But you gave me no choice. I had to take it, so take it I did. Rounding the back of the park, I dropped it in a trash can since my sweat had already drenched the cover. But then, horror of horrors, I realized I’d most likely encounter you again on my final lap. No doubt, you’d be eyeing me to see if I still had it. The best I could think of was to ball my fists and hope you’d think it was still jammed inside my sweaty hand, but I didn’t have to worry. As I passed you the final time, you stayed on your side not even acknowledging me. I guess your work was done.
If I see you out again, I’ll hope you remember some of the rules I’ve shared, and this time I’ll stop and give you a big sweaty hug. You don’t need pockets for those.