Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hebrews 12: 1,2

A bit of high cholesterol, high stress and being over my ‘ideal’ weight, I decided to start jogging.  I hate running. I always have. But I knew it was the best thing for me to address some of the physical issues I have been dealing with.  I also knew it only required stepping outside of the house, and going.  No trips to the gym, no special equipment.  Just a pair of shoes and the road ahead.  I found a the perfect program for my iPhone to help get me from where I was to actually being able to run 3+ miles without going into cardiac arrest.  C25k – Couch to 5K.  The perfect fit for me.  Every other morning, I pop in my headphones, set a playlist and I’m off.  The program starts with run walk routines and graduates up to running for 30+ minutes with warm ups and cool downs on either side.  It is fool proof. A gentle voice comes on as your workout commences, giving markers throughout,  “Warm Up – walk”.

The time running always gives me lots of time to think and process. I have also realized that the 30 minute cycle that I go through each day with my emotions in exercise is similar to my life and faith on a day-to-day basis.

This past year has been one of the most difficult and yet one of the most rewarding years of my life.  There have been markers along the way.  Last fall, as a family we had been coping with the question of “Now what?” after we returned from our time in Gabon.  We did not know where God was leading us, but we were active in seeking His direction for our lives.  On Nov 3rd 2010, I experienced my first gallstone incident, followed by surgery to remove my gall bladder. Two weeks later, I was in Atlanta, GA with Tim and Pete Brokopp discussing ways in which we could develop a non-profit to continue our work in Gabon and what that might look like.  I believe this was the first step in what would be a trying year.

“Run” – after five minutes of a brisk walk, I am feeling good and ready to run.  The C25K program kicks me into a nice jog.  I am invigorated, ready to go.  Everything seems to start out great.  My body feels fine, after about 5 minutes I feel like Forest Gump ready to run across the country.

I returned from Atlanta last fall, and Brynn and I sat down, evaluated our options, prayed about how God was leading us.  E4 Project began on Dec 8, 2010.  Paperwork filed, website developed, a trip planned for Tim Brokopp to come to Colorado to begin putting all the plans in place for what we envisioned would be a platform for all of us to continue working with the Gabonese and their ministries.  We were off, everything felt great.

January, 2011 – my son comes down with a sickness that keeps him in bed for over three weeks.  He still to this date has not recovered – he suffers from Post Viral Fatigue Syndrome (very similar to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome with Fibromyalgia symptoms too).  Brynn had thought that with the boys in school, she could devote herself, full time to E4.  God had other plans. Much of her time since January of last year has been spent caring for Ryan. Regular visits to our family pediatrician, specialists at Childrens’ Hospital, nutritionists, chiropractors, massage therapists, cranial sacral therapists, psychiatrists and the list goes on.  We were averaging about $2,000/mo in additional expenses for Ryan over the course of his sickness.  He missed most of the fourth quarter of his 5th grade.  He can still only attend half days, about 3 days a week, of school as he is in middle school. His sickness has impacted almost every area of his life and our family as a whole.  His younger brother, Carter, feels at times that he has lost his older brother because he cannot play like he used to.  Ryan has not been able to participate in sports, has not been able to spend nights with friends at sleep overs, he has missed out on numerous social events that certainly impact his social development at a critical age of his life. This sickness has beat our family down on every front.

“You are half-way done”. Only half-way, really?  My body does not feel like it did when I started out. I start going through the thoughts of “maybe I’ll cut this run short today”, “maybe I’ll run two days in a row and just do shorter work outs”.  All kinds of excuses start to flood my thinking of ways in which I can just call it a day and head home.  98% of the time, I press on though.

April 2010 – I had just finished one of the hardest stretches of my work career. I had worked harder in the last six months than I ever had in the past ten years.  I was working to develop a business that I thought I was invested in.   I was putting in extra time, going the extra mile on every front.  Our client had stacked up a normally busy April with an additional set of deliverables from games to presentations that I was on the hook to deliver.  I had been in business with what I thought was a long time friend from high school.  We had built a business up from virtually nothing.  It was successful.  As soon as we finished the most difficult stretch of the past six years, my partner decided that he wanted to run the business entirely by himself.  All the hard work I had invested in over the last six years, was all for nothing.  He took it all for himself, now that the systems, processes and team were in place and running well.  This was one of the most selfish acts I have ever experienced in my life.  A person that I thought I knew took complete advantage of me and all the hard work I had invested. At one point, he even stated “I needed to have you run the business the way you did because I needed to move my family to CA and buy a house and that would cost over million dollars, now that I have my house, I don’t need you anymore.”  I felt completely used and abused.  He knew I worked hard and let me so that he could attain his own personal goals then kick me to the side and remove any long term goals I had ever had.  All of this at a time, when my son was so sick, the lack of any human compassion by a person that I thought I knew was a complete kick in the gut while I was already down.  My son’s health never once influenced his thinking.  I still have not yet been able to overcome the hurt and feelings of being utterly used by someone that I thought I knew.  Complete betrayal.

June 2011 – a trip to Gabon.  I had hoped that time away from all that was happening on my home and work front would be beneficial.  The time on the ground with our ministry partners in Gabon was a blessing. It was a time for me to begin to see the long term dreams of our Gabonese friends begin to take shape.

Nov 3, 2011 – a year to the day from my gallstone incident, now I find myself driving to the ER in the middle of the night to pass a kidney stone.  Amazingly, this marker is exactly one year later from the gallstone. My hope is that this next year is not difficult as the past year. I am hopeful that things will turn around. I am hoping for my personal and professional life to improve. Waiting on God to show me the next steps, but until my son is complete healthy, I am not sure when that will be or what the next steps will look like.

Five more minutes.  My pace slows a bit, but I also realize that I am close enough to finishing for the day, that I push out all those thoughts of quitting and just fix my eyes on the end of the run.  Just waiting for the words “Cool down” to come.  I know they will. I know I will be able to rest then and I know that things will be better and that I will feel better the rest of the day.  I know what is best for me, so I press on. It’s no marathon, but for an old guy like myself, it sometimes feels like it.

Listening to the music, I get inspired.  One of my recent playlists has been Mumford and Sons – one song in particular keeps me focused.

Lyrics to Awake My Soul :
How fickle my heart and how woozy my eyes
I struggle to find any truth in your lies
And now my heart stumbles on things I don’t know
This weakness I feel I must finally show

In these bodies we will live, in these bodies we will die
Where you invest your love, you invest your life
In these bodies we will live, in these bodies we will die
Where you invest your love, you invest your life

Awake my soul, awake my soul
Awake my soul
You were made to meet your maker
Awake my soul, awake my soul
Awake my soul
You were made to meet your maker
You were made to meet your maker

In my physical weakness, I am constantly reminded of what we are pressing on towards.  Our bodies are here for only a short time, but where we invest our love, is where we invest our lives. Matthew 6:21 states “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  What  is it that I am treasuring?

We have just said goodbye to our Gabonese friends this past week.  They came to the States for over three weeks to visit and reconnect with their friends. I was able to see these friends invest in my family’s life by caring, praying and just being with us.  They ministered to us in ways that I cannot even begin to assign a value to.  I am so blessed to have friends like Jacob Mouele, Jean Marc and Mama Jeannine. They are such great people.

“Cool down” – finally, I can rest.  A final 5 minute walk around the block.  I feel great.

In the end, life is hard. This is just a snippet of what this past year has looked like. There are many other fronts where we have been tested and challenged.  So many times I feel like giving up. I have been filled with hurt, anger, pain at what others have done to me, questioning God as to how he can let my son continue with these health problems. Sometimes I feel like calling it a day and going home. So many things that I do not have answers to, nor will I, this side of eternity.  All I know is that I have to press on to what God has called me to do.  I want my soul to always be awakened each and every day with this.  I need to invest in others, this is what God has called us to.

We all were made to meet our Maker.  Will we feel like we ran the race with everything we have in us?  I hope I do.

One Coment, RSS

  • Faith Brokopp

    says on:
    December 2, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    Dear Eric: I am so sorry to read of the very hard year you have gone through. And I am so sorry for the hurt you have endured by your partner. We understand that hurt so well. We also went through something like that in our last church where we worked so hard, John suffered the debilitating stroke, and the church leadership turned their back on us (we felt like they fired us.) and here we are nearing our retiral age. Is this what happens when you follow the Lord and work all your life for HIM? These were the questions that ran through our minds. But God has been comforting us and blessing us on another life adventure. It hasn’t been something done in a minute, but years. Just remember that God is the GOD OF ALL COMFORT! He will meet you in your need. I will pray for you all in another way now that I know this. I didn’t know any of your suffering as far as your business. So I will be praying for your hurt. Love to each one of you. Faith