Love Lifts Us Up Where We Belong.
Dirk Labuschagne
October 10, 2023

So we have known and believe the love that God has for us.
God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.
~ 1 John 4:16

Some of you may know that as thousands of runners made their way along the 26.2-mile-long route through 29 of the city’s neighborhoods, I was one of those runners who completed the Chicago Marathon on Sunday. There are many reasons for running a marathon and many lessons to learn along the way. I signed up for an 18-week training program that encouraged us to join one of the groups meeting at various locations across Chicagoland. I completed my Saturday morning long runs on the Lakefront with a group of initial strangers who have since become allies. Although I’ve enjoyed the solitary aspect of running, these long runs were better done together.

In addition to learning the benefits of suffering together rather than alone, I gained a different relationship with having a plan. The training program made me think everything would be fine if I stuck to it. But, of course, such absolute thinking wasn’t helpful. Life didn’t step aside for me to follow this program. There have been smoke-filled skies, summer travels, and injuries complicating sticking to a training regimen and goal pace. An all-or-nothing mindset wasn’t helpful but rather one of flexible persistence.

Throughout the training and running of this marathon, I realized that my main reason for doing it was to feel loved. Deep within me was a desire to prove something to myself, a sense of worthiness, perhaps. And it was a test. Who will show up for me? Who will support me? Much of that was in my control. I had to risk letting people know what I was doing. I had to reach out for support and be vulnerable. And when people showed up for me (and goodness, they did!), I had to allow them to do so. While I ran, I prayed that God would show me that I am loved, and that God would fill my soul with that love. And I felt it most strongly when I ran past my supporters—my fully robed mentor, ready to lead worship at his church right next to the route, his bright smile lightening my footsteps, and my partner and dear friends, holding up signs and cheering their hearts out. I still get choked up bringing those images to mind. I am loved, and dear reader, so are you.

Loving God, show us how we may allow ourselves to feel loved. Help us to encourage others in love. Help us to risk asking others to love us. We thank you for your unconditional love. Amen.