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Hi, my name is Royce.

My goal in writing this blog is to share my thoughts on a number of issues of personal interest to me. These include issues of faith from a Christian world view; running, weightlifting, and physical training; environmental engineering and risk analysis; and whatever else comes to mind.

Currently, I am training for my third marathon–Anthem Richmond Marathon. My favorite long-distance races are the Baltimore Ten-Miler and the Baltimore Marathon, which I’ve finished 3 and 2 times, respectively, since 2011. Marathon training is the topic I’ve been writing most about, recently, because this time around has seemed especially challenging compared with the prior two races. I have attempted marathon training 3 times, and did not reach the start line for my first one, so I know a bit what failure feels like.

So, what is the fertile paradox? My website title is based on the parable of the seed that must fall to the ground and die:

“Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal.”

When I first read that Christians believe we should die in order to live, I didn’t understand that. I thought that was the most counterintuitive thing anyone might require. But when you think of it in terms of a seed, it doesn’t seem so ludicrous. In fact, it is common sense. And the more you think about it, the more you realize it is true for all people, not just Christians. This is the fertile paradox.

But the fertile paradox is also present in a life that must be lived in pilgrimage. Many world religions acknowledge this truth in a variety of traditional expressions. The one I’ve heard about most often is the Muslim Hajj. In the Christian life, however, this pilgrimage is focused on the heart, as it traverses this life seeking ultimately to appear before God: (Psalm 84:5-7)

Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
whose hearts are set on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baka,
they make it a place of springs;
the autumn rains also cover it with pools. They go from strength to strength,
till each appears before God in Zion.

My goal with this blog is to share some of the insights God shares with me on this journey in work, faith, and fitness.

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the fertile paradox by royce a. francis is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.