Curiosity got the best of me. Before I knew it, I was lost in the lines and lines of story so thoughtfully and prayerfully placed on the pages of Ciona’s new book Like Breath and Water: Praying With Africa. I told myself I would not read it until I had my purchased copy in hand, but my love for Ciona and Come Back Mission (Jo’Burg, South Africa) birthed a curiosity that pushed me to my breaking point. It was not the first time and I am sure it will not be the last.

As I hit minute 18:38 on the treadmill this morning during my 30-minute run, I was so thankful for my late night reading last week. It was at 18:38 on my jog I became ready to hit the stop button and make my way back home. I was having trouble breathing and my legs felt like they weighed 50 lbs. each. Not to mention my mouth was dry, and I had forgotten my water bottle and to pop in a stick of trident gum before the first steps were taken. Very quickly I was able to rationalize stopping and calling it a day. Then out of no where Joseph came to mind.

 I have not met Joseph yet, but I have heard lots about him from Cheryl Pillay and I read his story in Like Breath and Water the other night. He is a man who had a dream to one day run races and break records, whose dream was deferred for a couple of years due to choices he had made. His set back became his come back once he encountered the love of Christ embodied by the women and men of Come Back Mission. They offered him hope, grace and an unconditional love that has the power to transform life-draining conditions to life-giving conditions.

Joseph, his story and prayer, became a distraction. With each stride I began to name the life-draining habits and choices in my own life. I began to enter into a conversation with God, confessing to God my longing for freedom and deep desire to live. My mind was all over the place. I thought about Joseph’s strength, which gave me the energy I needed to continue. I thought about how the money I spend for food in one month, most of which is unhealthy and I can truly do without, is more than some members of my church bring home each month. I thought about Joseph’s longing for a new life and determination to embrace freedom, and my longing. His determination and courage became a source of inspiration for me as I reached out to embrace freedom and move towards being healthy.

Joseph’s prayer became my prayer…my prayer became Joseph’s prayer. Before I knew it the monitor read 29:17. I started laughing and said to myself, “Looks like we are going to make it after all.”

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