Initially, the Bible was a gift I received after partaking in my first Holy Communion as a 2nd grader. This white leather covered book was filled with pictures, perfect for someone that age. As I grew older, busyness, distractions and other interests caused me to leave these pages on my shelf, collecting dust for years. By the time junior high rolled around, the Roman Catholic Church informed me that it was time for confirmation, usually a year long process filled with a detailed checklist. Despite receiving an adult black leather King James Bible for my hard work, I treated this book like a hotel visit, inside my nightstand.
As I entered high school, the priests at my parent’s church claimed that only they could properly interpret the Bible. Sarcasm inside of me thought; “why did you give me 2 Bible’s if you knew I wouldn’t understand it?” Turned off by men of the cloth, God placed me into an unique setting. Although superficial at first, I began running cross country to get my name in the news paper, like our paperboy who always finished in the top 3 of each race. The Lord used this artificial motivation to bring me into something special, like a small family of strangers who seemingly hit it off from the beginning. Cross Country was no longer just running, it was eating meals together, spending time dreaming about life and sharing burdens to help each other to get through the day.
The Bible became more than just a book before each cross country race. It all began during chapels, pre-race huddles when a senior would share an inspirational story, our coach would read a verse from the Bible about running and a captain usually closed in a short prayer. Hearing passages like Hebrews 12:1, 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 and Galatians 5:7 transformed my perspective of the Bible. Prior to high school cross country, the Bible was a book, too holy for me to comprehend. Yet, when my own peers began to recount the words of the apostle Paul, an avid sports enthusiast, there was an instant connection, Romans 10:17. By the end of my sophomore running season, I was ready to take the plunge, Romans 10:9-10, a leap of faith. For me, this is where it all began.
by Jay Mankus