On most days when I walk into the gym in the afternoon, I can hear it from far away. It’s the sound of feet skidding loudly on the treadmill, and it convicts me all the time.
A number of years ago at this gym, I noticed a teenage boy come in who could barely walk. He had brown hair, was a bit stocky and wore blue jeans, and wobbled around with great difficulty, relying heavily on a cane. I watched him stumble over to the treadmill and get on. And he began. He took one very slow step after the next. He would do this for long periods of time…one by one, he’d put his feet slowly forward.
I saw him frequently, and I knew by the way he stayed on that treadmill that he was dedicated to this. A year went on and when I saw him I watched as he progressed slowly, walking a little further, walking a little easier. Then I began to go to the gym at nights, and I did not see him anymore.
A few weeks ago, I went in the afternoon, and there he was. I was delighted to see this dedicated boy and was surprised to see him without his cane. I was even more amazed just moments later when he got on the treadmill.
He got on that thing…and he ran.
And in this very moment…in his simple act of running…he shows me that nothing is impossible. His feet skid loudly because he can’t pick them up all the way…but he runs.
And I remember well the day he could barely walk and I remember how he put one foot in front of the other and I am convicted about all the times I haven’t wanted to put my foot forward. I remember the days when I have been given a less-than-ideal situation in my life and I haven’t wanted to move forward because I think that it is unfair, or too difficult, or even impossible to get through. And I know that sometimes it takes forever for me to decide to stand up and get on that impossible life treadmill. And he, through this journey I have watched him navigate, teaches me to stand up, take that first step, and carry on. And I am joyful because I am grateful for this most beautiful and simple lesson he teaches me over and over again.
He goes most days now and listens to loud folk rock music and moves his hands like he’s playing a great guitar solo. He still wears his blue jeans and some days he runs next to me. And while he runs and he runs, with the sound of his feet he tells me…
Just keep going forward. Just. Keep. Going.
“We glory in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance, character, and character, hope.” Romans 5:3-4