Greg Coplen July 13 at 3:38pm
I’m in the midst of training for a September marathon and needed to get a twenty mile run in while I was in Sedona. While we were driving around checking out the town we came across a road that looked perfect to take my long run on. It headed out of town, was dirt and gravel, and looked like it went right past some beautiful canyons. I didn’t know much about it other than it was plenty long enough for me to get my twenty miler done.
So, I set out this past Saturday morning at 5am headed towards “Schnebly Rd.” in Sedona, AZ. At about mile four I hit the road and it immediately started climbing. I didn’t think much of it as the area around Sedona is very hilly and I just figured it was going to have a lot of ups and downs. But, the further I went the more I realized that there was no down to the ups. It was all uphill. Mile five came along and I realized I had climbed about 300 ft. over the past mile. Then came miles six, seven and eight and it was the same exact thing. I was climbing about 300-400 ft. per mile. Between miles four and ten (where thankfully I finally got to turn around!) I climbed a total of 2050 ft. That’s just about 350 ft. of climbing per mile.
Along the way (despite the pain) I was getting to see some pretty unbelievable sights. The higher I climbed the better view of the Red Rocks and canyons around Sedona I had. It was an unbelievable sight to behold, but the best was saved for last. Right at the turn-around at the ten mile mark there was a ridge that jutted out from the road. I took a break at the top and walked out on the ridge. It was the most incredible sight I have ever seen. Colorado may be my favorite place to go, but I have never seen a sight so beautiful as what I saw from this ridge. I took about five minutes and just gave God thanks for what He had created. It was like the early morning sun was painting a picture on the cliffs and valleys. Different colors of light filtering through different parts of the canyons. It was just beyond words.
I left to head out on my run that morning not knowing where this road led, but only with the faith that it was going to provide me with the distance I needed. I had no idea just what a life-changing experience it was going to provide.
It really made me think about my faith in Christ. Do I believe in Christ and in what the Scriptures tell me about him? Yes, I do. Do I believe that the Bible is speaking the truth when it tells me that if I abide in Christ I will experience an abundant life that I could never imagine? Yes, I do.
Do I put my faith to practice and reach out to the broken, poor, weak, widowed, homeless, drunk, drugged, addicted, forgotten, beaten, abused, diseased, dirty, etc…..world? Hmmm, I guess I sometimes do, but I don’t much of the time if I don’t feel like it. I reach out when it benefits me, or benefits my ministry. I do when it’s easy and convenient or when it gives me a story to tell and then I come home and sleep in my own bed in an air-conditioned house that has a pantry and a refrigerator with plenty of food and drink.
How am I supposed to experience the benefits, the grace, mercy and the goodness of God if I don’t have works that go along with my faith? How am I supposed to experience the beauty of the view from the mountain top if I don’t put in the work to run up there in the first place?
Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do. I get the opportunity to share God’s story of grace in my life almost every day. I get to do so through speaking, leading worship and sharing my music with churches, recovery groups and anyone else who will give me the opportunity. I raise my own financial support for this and I love the freedom that it provides myself and my family to do what we feel God has called us to do.
And don’t get me wrong again, I know that I can’t “earn” God’s love through doing what I do, or by doing more. God’s love for this world is constant and unconditional. He won’t love me more if I sing and speak well and He won’t love me less if I screw up and completely destroy a song or message.
I don’t get more forgiveness for my sin because I’m a “pastor.” My (and all of ours if we choose to accept it) forgiveness was bought and paid for by Jesus Christ when He willingly went to the Cross to die in my place. I have exchanged my life for His and I know that He loves me and leads me.
I just know that I can do a much better job of living the life that God has called me to. I want to experience the dirt, the rocks, the lung-burning climbs of following Christ whole-heartedly knowing that when I reach the top I’m going to look back at the road I’ve climbed and hear my Father and my Savior tell me that it was all worth it.