This past weekend, I was supposed to run a half marathon. I had signed up almost 9 months ago for a race in Orlando, had trained (semi) faithfully, carefully set out all my gear for the race and mentally prepared myself for the long 13.1 mile trek around the Walt Disney World property, through theme parks and finally to the finish line and after party.
I‘ve run quite a few races in the past few years, but I was especially excited about this one. It would be my first night time half marathon and I was looking forward to possibly setting a personal record for my half marathon time, not to mention there was the Disney Wine and Dine Festival waiting for me at the finish line. But as we stood in line to check our gear bags at the start line, something happened. Lightning. Thunder. Rain. Obviously this was not in the plan, and as the race organizers herded the 20,000 runners into a nearby building to let the storm pass and announced the race would be shortened six miles, we were all frustrated with the interruption in our plans.
As annoyed as I was in the moment, being a few days removed from the situation provides me with a little perspective. As I sit in my comfortable house this morning, I'm thinking about the families we serve in Kenya. No one understands the frustration of an interrupted plan better than our clients at CARE for AIDS. When an individual finds out they have HIV/AIDS, all the plans they have for the future suddenly get thrown out the window. Plans for children’s futures are replaced by fears of leaving children orphaned. Plans for a better job are replaced with worry that an employer will find out their status and they’ll be fired. Plans for a long, healthy life are replaced with the fear of death.
As frustrating and outright scary as AIDS is, plans for the future don’t have to be abandoned. CARE for AIDS helps our clients navigate and thrive in the face of very real uncertainty that HIV/AIDS brings to their lives. Through our partnerships with the local church, we get to help restore not only the individual, but the entire family’s physical, emotional and spiritual hope for the future. We get to help our clients put their plans back into place.
After the storm cleared, my half marathon was eventually started. Despite the interruption, we had a great run, and I actually set a PR for my 10k time. The night, and my expensive entry fee, was redeemed. It was not the win that I had in mind before the storm, but a win none the less. I can’t help but think that a lot of our clients have a parallel experience. A plan interrupted, but through the grace of God, redemption and a different, and often more wonderful victory in the end.