Chasing Down Regret

$75.

That’s what it cost in the fall of 1999 to register and compete in the Athens Marathon. Or, you know, as the Greeks call it, THE MARATHON.

Studying abroad afforded me a tremendous amount of opportunity but none were as intriguing to me as the chance to run in the sandals of Pheidippides. Even though there were only a very few weeks available to train, a handful of my classmates eagerly signed up to run the original 26.2. They were of all shapes and and sizes and ran the gamut from fit to not-so-fit. A couple of the guys banded together and vowed to cross the finish line together. They wanted to know if I was going to join them.

$75.

When our plane landed in Athens I had a crisp one hundred dollar bill folded and hidden away in my wallet. When it came time to decide wether or not to run the marathon, I pulled out old Ben and contemplated my decision.

I can’t run a marathon.
What if I can’t keep up?
What if I hold everyone else back?
What if I don’t finish?
How embarrassing fill it be when I fail?

These and a half dozen other thoughts and questions rushed in and flled my heart with fear and anxiety. I calmly folded my money away and made an excuse that $75 was too big of a risk to take.

A few weeks later I watched as every single person that signed up for the marathon crossed the finish line. I was thrilled for them and I cheered as they entered into the Olympic Stadium, stepped across the line, and took ahold of their medals. I was so happy for them… and ashamed and disappointed in myself.

I was 19 years old and I consider that decision not to run that marathon as one of the biggest regrets in my life.

One of my favorite books is In a Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day by Mark Batterson. I can honestly say that reading that book changed the way I see myself, my Jesus, and the world around me.

The book centers around the idea of seizing every opportunity that God places before you in this life. It’s about looking past the risk and putting your trust in the One who can carry you through. Mark uses the obscure story of Benaiah from 2Samuel 23 as the foundation for this bold and courageous book.

“Benaiah chased a lion down into a pit. Then, despite the snow and slippery ground, he caught the lion and killed it.” – 2 Samuel 23:20

Ultimately Benaiah became head of David’s security team. Mark believes that God used events like pursuing a lion during a snow storm to prepare and develop Benaiah for his ultimate purpose. He makes the case that the greatest regrets in your life will not be when you took the risk or when you chose to place your trust in God to help you overcome an obstacle. Your greatest regrets in life will be the lions you didn’t chase.

Last week I turned 33. For the last few months I have been slowing preparing and training for something big. Despite a few obstacles like illness and having my appendix removed, I have been logging miles and making plans.

Today, I took the biggest leap yet on my way to chasing down that lion that has haunted me for the last 14 years. I registered for a marathon. 

On January 12, 2014, I plan on crossing the finish line and taking that lion to the woodshed.

Between now and then, I’m praying like it all depends on God and working like it depends on me. In the few months that I have been “training” I have seen God move me and develop me. I am learning so much more about myself and I’ve even captured some insight about leadership and ministry.

I ask that you pray for me as I move forward toward this dream and Big Hairy Audacious God Given Goal (BHAGGG).

I’ll leave you with Batterson’s Lion Chaser Manifesto. My prayer for you is that you will, with God’s guidance and help, chase down the lions in your life. Forget 14 years – one minute is too long to live with regret. Let us live boldly. Loudly. Audaciously. Not for ourselves but for the glory of Jesus Christ!

Quit living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death. Set God-sized goals. Pursue God-ordained passions. Go after a dream that is destined to fail without divine intervention. Keep asking questions. Keep making mistakes. Keep seeking God. Stop pointing out problems and become part of the solution. Stop repeating the past and start creating the future. Stop playing it safe and start taking risks. Expand your horizons. Accumulate experiences. Enjoy the journey. Find every excuse you can to celebrate everything you can. Live like today is the first day and last day of your life. Don’t let what’s wrong with you keep you from worshiping what’s right with God. Burn sinful bridges. Blaze new trails. Criticize by creating. Worry less about what people think and more about what God thinks. Don’t try to be who you’re not. Be yourself. Laugh at yourself. Don’t let fear dictate your decisions. Take a flying leap of faith. Chase the lion!

One Response to “Chasing Down Regret”

  1. Keith Toogood April 9, 2013 at 3:28 pm #

    Go Get ‘em Michael! That’s awesome that you are taking on the lion. I am about to take on a tough mudder…my brother in law who is a freshmen at A&M. He got me on board this last fall. I considered backing out, but this will be a once in a lifetime experience. I am reading 2 books by Mark Batterson right now. A devotional called Draw a Circle and another book by him called the Circle Maker. Both are of the same concept but one is a daily devotional and the other a full read. After this I’m going to read In a Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day and Wild Goose Chase, both by Mark as well. I hope you guys are doing great and I’ll be rooting for you!