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Faith Moment
January 5, 2015
She Died With Her Running Shoes On

I found this article in USA Today’s November 5, 2013 edition.

 
Eighty-six year old Joy Johnson, a veteran of 25 New York City marathons, died with her running shoes on. Johnson, who was the oldest runner in 2013’s marathon, fell at the 20 mile marker in the event. She crossed the finish line at about eight hours. After the race she returned to her hotel room, lay down with her shoes on, and never woke up.

Amazingly, Johnson didn't run her first marathon until she was sixty-one years old. The only hint of the sport was the verse from Isaiah 40:31 which hung on the kitchen wall in her family farm home in rural Minnesota: "But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles. They shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint."

Ironically, the career gym teacher, Johnson was a stranger to personal exercise until she took a three-mile walk in 1986. Then she started jogging and competing in 10-K races. By 1988 she had competed in her first New York City Marathon. Three years later she recorded her best time at age sixty-four with a time of 3 hours and 55 minutes.

A few years ago she told a reporter about her exercise regimen. She would wake up at 4 A.M., drink her coffee while reading her Bible, and then set out on an eight mile pre-dawn run. "When you wake up it can either be a good day or a bad day," Ms. Johnson said. "I always say, 'It's going to be a good day.'"

The devout Christian ran every day but Sunday so she could attend church. Johnson sang hymns to herself to pass the time while running. According to Johnson's daughter, "She was always a happy runner—and besides her faith and family, this was something she loved the most."


Joy Johnson died with her running shoes on! I suppose this could serve as her epitaph. Joy Johnson died while doing the things she loved.

What will my family choose as my epitaph? What will yours be? We determine that which will be said of us when we are gone by the choices we make every day. The way I live my life each day tells the world who I am.

While I’ve not chosen to run a marathon, I am choosing this New Year to live my life in such a way that my family will know exactly who I was and what I loved when my life is over. This day, I choose to live a life that will leave no doubt as to my priorities.

With love,
Mike

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