Just Surviving | 10.08.19

“My usual suite, please.”

“Do you have a credit card? Or any luggage, sir?”

MI6 agent James Bond is clearly miffed, waiting for the reluctant concierge to open a room. Thankfully, an old friend intervenes. “Open the Presidential Suite,” says Mr. Chang with unmistakable authority after greeting 007. “Do it quickly,” he adds moments later. The concierge lowers his head in agreement.

Though this scene in Die Another Day (2002) seems minor, consider the context for a moment. Prior to entering the Hong Kong Yacht Club, Bond escapes a secure hospital room and jumps into the sea. After swimming to shore, he strolls into the hotel lobby soaking wet, which brings us to the baffled concierge and Mr. Chang’s swift assistance. Of course, prior to escaping the hospital he spent fourteen torturous months in a North Korean prison after being captured by soldiers.

“Been busy, have we, Mr. Bond?” queries Chang.

“Just surviving, Mr. Chang. Just surviving,” replies 007 with a tinge of dark humor in his voice.

Survival aptly describes my running routine this summer. The mercury repeatedly inched towards 100 degrees Fahrenheit; humidity continuously saturated the morning air; and the heavens regularly kept the rain from falling to the parched, greenish, grass. I don’t mind summer runs, but sweltering conditions of this sort sap the body’s strength quickly.

Incidentally, I suppose that summer runs are precisely the stuff of survival. I’m not training for Badwater, but 90-120 minutes at 11 a.m. in Georgia in late August isn’t a far cry from the physiological conditions that runners endure in Death Valley. I’m not on my feet long enough for the hallucinations to occur, but heat exhaustion (and heat stroke) are very real threats if caution isn’t exercised. Thankfully, I managed to endure the heat of the summer without incident.

I’ve further discovered that running helps me survive arduous days. Parenting a two-year-old, managing a house, serving a spouse, fretting about finances, and combating general anxiety chip away at the toughest, sharpest mind. “Do not be anxious about anything,” writes Paul, “but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

I pray about anxiety, though living without its presence is a formidable task. Maybe that’s why the Almighty helped me discover running. To unlock another catalyst of mental liberation.

“The battles that count aren’t the ones for gold medals. The struggles within yourself—the invisible, inevitable battles inside all of us—that’s where it’s at,” says legendary Olympian Jesse Owens. Struggling through a run helps me struggle through the internal stuff.

As a man reconciled to God through the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus, I recognize that this life is about surviving physical, emotional, and spiritual hardships. But there’s grace and mercy and wonder and love too. God’s goodness is evident everywhere, and this truth sustains my spirit.

And my runs.

Photo courtesy of Christopher Burns

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Austin Bonds