I first called on M___ eight years ago. He was the production manager of a large corrugated manufacturer, and I was the sales rep for a manufacturer of high speed corrugated equipment. For several years, I only knew M___ on a business level.
One day, however, we decided to have lunch together. Over our chicken salad and soup, I began get to know him on a more personal note.
M___ told me he was a marathoner---you know, one of those individuals who runs all the time and competes in 26-mile races several times a year.
Well, of course, this fascinated me. I asked him all about it. He told me he rolls out of bed every morning at 4:30 and runs 10 miles. Rain or shine, frost or ice, it didn't matter---he WAS going running.
I asked him how long he had been training like this. He told me that 10 years ago, he was involved in a terrible car accident. He suffered two broken legs, a broken back, and crushed chest. The docs said he probably would not walk again---and if he did, it would be with great effort and pain. They also told him he was lucky just to be alive.
In his hospital bed over the next few months, M___ began to realize how he had been wasting his life. He was overweight. He didn't feel good most of the time. He was a smoker. He also realized he didn't like himself very much.
Slowly, M___ became convinced that God had used that terrible car accident to speak to him about his life. M___ told me he began to see that he had been living a bare shadow of the life that God had intended for him. He vowed to stop smoking. He promised himself and God that he would do all that he could to come out of the severe invalid state he was in and become physically and spiritually strong.
He said it was very, very difficult as he tried to walk, and then run over the next weeks, months and years. But, every morning, rain or shine, he would struggle to rise from bed at an early hour and attempt to train.
At first it was all he could do to just walk. The pain was terrible. But, as he persisted, the pain began to moderate. He tried to run a few steps, and slowly he was able to build a little distance. He said he never ever considered stopping his training, no matter how bad the pain or how discouraged he sometimes felt. He pressed on; and, as months began to evolve into years, his ironclad routine began to show phenomenal results.
He said when he became free of pain, it was like the world was opened up to him. He decided to try to run one marathon. He entered as a contestant, not sure whether he could finish. He did. His many friends and family were there to cheer him on.
Then came another marathon, and another and another. By now, M___ was a picture of perfect health---a physical specimen, lean and glowing, looking much, much younger than his 45 years.
As we walked to the car to go back to work, he said as an aside that the accident and near death experience was the best thing that ever happened to him. He said it is a shame that, to really experience life at its fullest, he had to almost die.
I can't tell you what an inspiration his story is to me.