We have been in Dulce for five months and I would imagine that by now just about everyone in the congregation knows I run. I would imagine that most people in town know I run, either from seeing me running on the side of the road or hearing about it from someone who saw me and told them. I haven't seen very many runners since moving to Dulce and only once did I see a person who was clearly an Anglo, like me.
I run every day. Sometimes a few miles. Sometimes quite a few miles. I have run marathons and I found one in Shiprock in May that I'm training for. But even if there wasn't the marathon on my schedule I would be running, outdoors, year-round. It is just one of those things I do.
If you have seen me out running, did you notice that I wave? I wave at nearly every car that goes by. I toss in a "Hi!" at every cyclist or person walking along the road. On occasion I also greet the dogs. Waving at cars is something I started to do 5 or 6 years ago.
When we lived in Minnesota I ran along a particular section of road 5 to 7 days a week. One lane in each direction, with a decent shoulder. The speed limit was 45 and there was 'no passing' allowed. I know, from driving that road myself, that the speed limit was easily exceeded. 'No passing' was for a good reason, although I saw people do that too.
Because of my work schedule I ran that section of road in the dark roughly nine months of the year. I started waving at drivers during the daytime as a protective mechanism. I figured if I waved during the daytime those drivers might be more mindful of my presence on the road if they were out during the dark. Before long I was waving at everyone, day and night.
Now waving at drivers is a habit, but the purpose has changed a bit. Waving has become a way of people noticing me. Sometimes they wave back. I don't often make eye contact, partly because at my age my eyes take a bit longer to focus on a face in a vehicle, and by then I am drifting, usually towards traffic. Waving while mostly looking ahead is safer.
Being noticed is not for the purpose of fueling my ego, but just for the purpose of opening a conversation later. I am an outsider, an Anglo pastor, serving a church in a Native American community. It is likely that there are some people in the community I have waved at many times over the past five months. I don't know who they are but they know who I am. And if I run into them at the grocery store, or gas station, or wherever, it is my hope that my wave opens a conversation, one which, in time, may lead to our talking about things of greater importance than running or basketball, or whatever.
I want God to use my wave to serve His purposes. I want that wave to open a door and point another person to the joy and peace that is only known in Christ. In 1 Corinthians 10:31 Paul writes,
"So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, to all to the glory of God."
"Whatever"…running, waving, witnessing….may all that I do, and all that you do, serve God, to His eternal glory.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.