Lions, Tigers, and Bears

No, we have not seen any lions, tigers, or bears, yet. But we have been warned of their presence in the area. Mountain lions and bears may be among our next spectators from the side of the road, as we head into the dense forests and past the Bay area. Although tigers may be scarce in California, we have felt the presence of a certain Tiger, Tiger Woods that is, while having our rest day on the campus at Stanford University, where he started his golfing legacy. The past couple days have felt like a whirlwind of adventure and intensity. A sensory overload of sorts.

After our stay in Monterey, it brought me to a place of incredible fellowship with the people we have been staying with lately. All of our conversations have been centered around our purpose and mission for the summer. Powerfully encouraging me and Paul, while also challenging others to take a look at their own faith.

A 20 mile run last Wednesday brought us through Moss Landing and back along the coast through a variety of berry farms. While running, we again heard the call of the wild, literally, when we heard seals in Moss Landing’s small harbor. Hundreds and hundreds of sea lions lay on a dock that they had taken over. After a quick hello and photo shoot with the seals, we were back on the road heading north. At this point in the trip, we were fortunate enough to stay with a family in San Jose. Our first interaction with the family was what this trip in some ways truly embodies. The beauty of the not knowing what will happen next. That evening I enjoyed the fast pace, unknown, and new people we met. After a few quick decisions were made, Paul and I decided to take a great opportunity and head to San Francisco to see the sights and get an amazing tour by our host Bob. However, before we left and within 20 minutes of arriving at the host family’s grandparents house, we showered, met a woman over 100 years old, ate some freshly picked berries, and were able to get ready in time to leave for San Francisco.

I have been to San Francisco before, but Bob, you my friend know your stuff. I have never been more impressed by someone who knows a certain area well. I guess you ought to if your Grandpa, Dad, and yourself were born there. If the tour guides of San Francisco got together to elect a tour guide mayor, you would be that tour guide major. And a dang fine tour guide mayor you would be. The buffaloes of Golden Gate Park, Telegraph Hill, Coit Tower, the Cable Car Station, Union Square, the Presidio, Lombard Street, Fisherman’s Wharf, Crissy Park, Fort Pointe, The Golden Gate Bridge, Greens, the cinema history, and the other amazing sites we saw. I knew we would enjoy ourselves when Bob took us to the top of the Westin, 32 stories up, in one of the fastest elevators I have ever experienced. 1, 2, 3… JUMP, was all it took to realize the fun would begin. Hanging in mid-air as the elevator dropped was quite an accomplishment, as my sore calf muscles hardly responded to any fast twitch movements, like jumping. The view was incredible and overlooked most of the Bay area and of San Francisco. What an amazing afternoon and dinner.

After another day with our host family, we got to spend some more time with their kids who were our age. But first it was on to Santa Cruz where we ran through the majority of this “weird” city. I wish we had more time there. Bumper stickers and store fronts all exclaimed the same opinion of Santa Cruz, as being “weird, different, and not normal”. To keep up with the abnormality of the area, we were picked up from our run in a quite different way. Like a bright twinkie racing downhill at us and into the nearest intersection was a bright yellow VW bus. The anticipation and excitement rose as 3 high school guys (one being Will who was part of our host family) honked and found us at our end point. This excitement came to end however, when the bus stalled in the intersection and all 3 guys jumped out and pushed it the rest of the way to us. It reminded me of the movie Little Miss Sunshine, when to start a similar looking VW bus, they must push the bus everytime to get the momentum and engine going.

The ride back was fun, through the turns and fast highway from Santa Cruz back up through the hills of San Jose. Back at the house, Paul and I went swimming with the guys and got to share so much more about our summer and experiences. This week was so encouraging for me. I’ve got so many opportunities to talk about the run, my faith, and whats going on in my heart throughout the journey. The people we have gotten to stay with have been so generous and supportive of us. The fellowship I experience on a day to day basis is never ending with Christ and others.

On friday, we had an intensely physically exhausting day. After running 31 miles, into the hard wind, and up and down the long slopes of the coastal highway 1, we finished at Pescadero State Beach. Our next host picked us up and we were off to Palo Alto on the curvy roads through dense forest. After a huge dinner, we were feeling a bit better, more conscious, and retired on the campus of Stanford.

We had another tour, this time of the University’s campus. This weekend was graduation for the students here, so we enjoyed some apples and crackers that were being handed out throughout the day on campus. Watching all the students jogging and running around the beautiful area made me somewhat envious. “Won’t it be nice to go on an easy enjoyable run when we get back?”, we both joked.

It’s something that I have been thinking about lately, running in general. Why do I run, why do you run, why do any of us run? To be out here, and then see countless people all at different levels running through San Francisco, Stanford, and other places along the coast, makes me really think about the parallels I see in our faith and relationship with Christ.

To be honest, usually I hate books that compare athleticism and sports to Christianity. When given them or recommended I write them off and don’t pay much attention to their validity or biblical relevance. That’s not to say that they are not insightful or inspiring at all. But I guess they really just don’t do it for me. However, for me I’ve really experienced a similar parallel with running that could only be experienced out here on this journey.

Along with my dependence on God’s provision throughout this trip, I am also very dependent on my ability to run, obviously also provided by God. It gets me from place to place, city to city, and shelter to shelter. If I could not run, I would not be able to make it. Fitness, training, and competition are not what I am running for. I am running to live. Running to put my self in a position where I have to rely on the run, rely on God. It is not simply a part of my day, it is my day. I look at others running and how they fit it into their schedules, squeezing it into the morning, at night after work, and how it is ultimately just to shape themselves into the type of person they strive to be. Thinner, faster, stronger, more athletic, whatever the reasons may be. This is comparable to how we can get in our faith and relationships. Structuring ourselves spiritually and striving to perform better. Scheduling in our prayers, Jesus time, and if we even have time to do any of it at all, except from 9-1 on Sunday mornings. If we give our lives to Christ, and truly have a relationship with him, then we need to transform Christ into our lives. Not trying to shape ourselves into the type of good christian we feel we should be. But living to transform ourselves into who Jesus calls us to be and into the relationship he so longingly wants us to be in with Him. Present in every moment of our weeks, days, and hours. Are we only limiting Him to the suggested hour of activity a day that everyone should get? Or have we stepped up to how we are called to live, scheduling our lives and days around what our true calling is.

I make this comparison, but still struggle to apply this into my own life. As I run to live this summer, I live to glorify Him who has let me run.

Z

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9 thoughts on “Lions, Tigers, and Bears

  1. Zac, I love yours’ (and Paul’s) blogs! I love how you have poured your heart out and what you are learning and experiencing. What you wrote in this blog is full of truth, encouragment, vulnerability, and honesty. Thanks for letting us all in on your journey – God is powerful and he is using you and Paul right now!

    -Laura Goding

  2. Right on the mark Zac! Sounds a LOT like Romans 12:1-2 ‘So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.’ (The Message). We all live to glorify Him who has given us Life.

  3. Amazing! Aaaaamazing revelation.
    God seriously used this to speak to my heart.
    I don’t want Jesus for a 30 minute workout to look good… I want Jesus to be my entire day, entire life, entire means for survival (just like running has become for you guys).
    Really powerful post Zac.
    =]

  4. hi guys! so i’ve been following your posts since you started and it has been so exciting to hear how God is using you and to hear your journey. I am actually on Santa Monica Summer Project right now so all of what you are saying I can relate to and be challenged by it. Thank you so much for your conviction and truth!

  5. Your mom read this at Open Door the other day and it got me choked up. Even though i know what you guys are doing with this run, It gave me a perspective more into how your days are spent and a deeper insight to what this all really is. And that provoked my heart more than ever. I struggle with applying this to my own life too, even though its the thing i want the most…more than anything in the world. We’re so easily satisfied with the comfort of our surroundings that we forget that our dependence on God gives us more than we can imagine. Thank you for inspiring me and challenging me more and more. I think I’ve further realized now, that this really isn’t something “just for fun” because you guys like to run. Its incredible how God has molded this challenge He’s given you to become closer and closer to Him and more dependent on Him leading you and trusting Him. I can see how He’s doing that in you guys, even just through these words typed out in a paragraph. But the best thing about it is He’s not only doing it with you two, but He’s doing it in so many other lives that are seeing your faces, hearing your stories, or simply just reading your blog. I’m in awe of Him and amazed and How he continues to unravel this journey of yours into a creation far more than any of us ever expected!

  6. ps. I liked the correlation you put with lions, tigers, and bears comment…tiger being, Tiger Woods! good one! 🙂

  7. Zach this was amazing, unbelievable. I hope you guys are doing well out there, Santa Cruz is where my parents are from and I’ve been through there, moss landing, watsonville, etc sooo many times. Hope it wasn’t cold! It sounds like God is truly leading you out there, what you guys are doing is amazing. I have to say the runner in me is very jealous, I wish I could be out there with you guys. Good luck as you head north, I’ll definitely keep praying for you guys. And thanks for the encouragement and the continuous challenge to live my life as God would have me live it, and to truly understand why it is I run. Love you guys, Run Strong!

  8. Wow, Zac, God has given you such an amazing understanding of what it means to be real. It is encouraging and challenging to hear your heart and to see how the Lord is transforming you. I couldn’t agree with what you are saying more and it is so needed and wanted, yet so difficult for us to obtain. My heart is filled with joy to hear that people are challenged by this and are encouraged by you to live this life that God has truly created us to live. Thank you for trusting the Lord and being willing this summer. The Lord is using you both big time…and it’s incredible. Thanks for sharing with all of us!

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