For the last month I've been spending my Tuesday and Thursday afternoons at Northwood Elementary in Spenard, running. Asked by a friend to help her encourage, coach, and generally herd 85 1st-6th graders in and around the neighborhood in preparation for the Heart Run, I somewhat tentatively agreed and showed up, lock, stock and preschooler, for practice.
Somehow assigned to the "fast-running" group (mostly older kids), I quickly saw that most of them had little if any experience running, even for games like Tag, which we had to teach them during halfway stops. Nor did they like running in particular. They whined, they cried, they talked back as we slipped and slid around Conner's Bog and Lake Hood on our 3.75 mile runs. They said they would "never do this again" and fought every single suggestion for making their experience a little better along the way. They glared at me.
I decided to challenge a few of them by offering to pace them the entire way, telling them that if they stayed right next to me, they would be able to finish the course running, not walking. I promised. Running the exact same speed the whole 3+ miles, the kids who decided to trust me lasted about five minutes before racing ahead and then falling behind, huffing and puffing like a freight train, or stopping completely to swear at me and the world for the injustice of Running Club. I stayed at my pace; never slowing, never speeding up, and at one point I said "I'm staying right here, all you need to do is come with me and I promise I'll get you back."
Jogging along Wisconsin Avenue yesterday, it struck me that God does the same thing. He promises to be there, saying "I am here." I run ahead, thinking I know better, and fall back when I finally realize I cannot do it, embarrassed for not listening. Still He is there. I get angry, really angry, because I fail, and blame God for not helping me out. Still He is there. Quietly, simply, patiently.
How often do we forget? It took a pack of kids to show me.