Over the course of a lifetime, a handful of friends come along who have a genuine gift for helping us become more fully and truly who we were made to be. Over the past twelve years, John Grant has been one of those friends for me. He doesn't know the degree to which he's done that for me, because only a percentage of it takes place through our interactions. It mostly just happens through the kind of person he is and how he goes about living his life.
A peculiar thing about this friendship is that although John and I have been good friends for twelve years, to date, we have only ever laid eyes on each other one time. We took graduate courses online together, which started our friendship. Then we met and enjoyed spending some time together a decade ago at our graduation from that program, and he's been one of people I repeatedly want to involve in my life with God in all of the years and places since then. (One of these days, we'll end up on the same part of the planet at the same time again, and it will be good.)
John is training to run in his first marathon. As much as an accomplishment as that is in itself, it's more remarkable since a) I haven't run twenty-six miles total in the decade since John and I last saw each other, and b) John is almost twenty years older than I am. As evidenced in the quote from John above, running is an important part of his story. One of the reasons I am drawn to him as a friend is because of how John is able to describe his struggles and how he's found/been found by God in the thick of them, and his journey toward running this marathon is another example of that.
John's goal in training for and participating in this race is to partner with World Vision and raise enough funds to provide clean water for life for 104 people. Many of you have been encouraged by reading his contributions to this site, and he continues to chronicle his training progress and what he notices along the way on his blog. I hope that some of you may be able to contribute and help John toward his goal.