Saturday morning, I ran the River Bank Run 5 kilometer race in Grand Rapids, MI. When I finished, sweating and holding courtesy samples of nutrition bars, yogurt, and muscle milk, I passed by the starting line of the 25 kilometer (15.5 miles) big race. Thousands of wide eyed runners were packing the Monroe Ave. runway anticipating the starting gun.
The air was festive. Fellow athletes were glad handing and backslapping encouragement to each other. But there, on the corner of Michigan and Monroe, standing tall on the pedestal of a lightpost, was perched a young man like the others dressed in a gym shorts, a t-shirt, and running shoes. But instead of warming up, he was speaking up. He was respectfully, kindly, loudly and clearly reciting verses from the bible like:
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life” (Jn 3:16).
“He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (Jn 3:36).
“It is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment” (Heb 9:27).
“Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31).
This man exhilarated me far more than my race had. He was a fool for Christ, but arguably the most sensible of us all.
He was planting strategic seeds in the fertile minds of thousands of souls who would be running a mind-bending race that would stir up thoughts amidst heartbreak hills of exhaustion, despair, weakness, fainting, and feelings of mortality. I’ve run that big race many times and often found my drained mind almost hallucinating on strange and spiritual and near-death themes. The Spirit plows up hearts when people are near their wit’s end.
“They reeled and staggered like a drunken man, and were at their wit’s end” (Ps 107:27).
Who knows how many runners at their wit’s end climbing a heart-breaking Butterworth St. hill during mile 12, or passing through John Ball Park during mile 13, couldn’t get out of their minds the fool on the corner lightpost and the gospel truths of Jesus and eternity he’d planted?
“For as seed to the sower. . . So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:10-11).
Maybe the last day will tell that River Bank Run day was actually salvation day for one or more. Since the value of one soul is worth more than the price of all the material world (Matt 16:26), why aren’t more of us lightpost perched fools for Christ?
Great post and an even greater reminder for all of us to faithfully live out our God-ordained roles as “fools for Christ” (1 Cor. 4:10). I’m certain there were believers there who were embarrassed or annoyed that the fellow would be so audacious as to shout out Scripture verses. But doesn’t the Apostle Paul ask, “How are they to hear without someone preaching?” (Rom. 10:14). Thank you brother Mark for reminding us what is most important in life.