“Go BAACCKKK!” my 3-year old pleaded through tears, as we drove home from her brother’s check-up at the pediatrician. She sobbed and begged to return to the doctor’s office for nearly twenty minutes–all because of a miscommunication over which child would open the door to exit the office. Tantrums arise fairly often over issues like this, and her solution is almost always to return to the situation to do it over (her way).
There are quite a few points in life I wish I could return to, so I could do things differently. Unlike my daughter, though, I wish I hadn’t done them my way, but had chosen God’s way.
Words fly out of my mouth, or onto a screen, words that portray my faith, courage, belief, and perseverance. Yet there are times when I feel like in this great race, I’m doing more falling and getting scraped up than running in freedom. I used to run in Audubon Park in New Orleans, and others familiar with this location know that the outer trail loop is laden with beautiful, yet treacherous, oak tree roots. One misstep or failure to correctly see the terrain could result in a quick and painful meeting with the ground.
As always, I’ve been encountering songs and things to read that speak directly to what’s going on in my mind and heart. In fact, the “random” verse from my daily reading was part of the inspiration for my blog’s name, Running the Race: “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.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)
Even when I do not get to meet regularly with others on this same course for encouragement and prayer, there are phone calls and e-mails and books that spur me on.
Being spurred on by seeing the faith of others, I am able to see sin for what it is: anything that keeps me from growing closer to God and experiencing His blessing. I see a lot of “tree roots” that are there to trip me up and entangle me. I see the danger. The book of James says to draw near to God, and He will draw near to us. Resist the devil, and he will flee. See the pitfall, recognize my propensity for falling, and stay away!
Run with perseverance. In high school and college, I was a long-distance runner. Because of knee issues and parenthood, I’ve been on a long break, but hope to return soon. But in my life, I see that there is a race of far greater consequence and reward marked out for me. When I asked Jesus to take over my heart, I knew that I was surrendering to his course for me, rather than my own. I have no regrets. That doesn’t mean it is easy. In fact, the Lord promises troubles in this life. We have to keep running, though. I like that the author of Hebrews doesn’t say “crawl”, “trudge”, or even “walk”. RUN. Run with confidence, freedom, and strength–all given by the Holy Spirit, of course!
We can run on and on when there is something, or someone, to which we run. Jesus himself is our prize. Being with our Lord, Maker, Savior, will be the best reward we could ever experience, and it lasts forever. Nothing can separate us from the deep love of Christ. He has bought us with his blood, redeemed us from the pit, set us apart for a new life. I run because he is waiting for me. I don’t give up, because he didn’t: the next verse explains Jesus’ perseverance unto death–“For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame…”. What could I endure here in this life that would at all compare to what Jesus endured for me?
Yes, I fall, more often than I want to. Yes, I get weary, but there is refreshment and strength if I seek them in the right places. Yes, I want the road to be easier sometimes, but I also know that this is the race “marked out for me”. God will meet my every need, and He will continue molding me into the person He created me to be, through everything I face. A favorite song of mine during a difficult season of life a few years ago was “Blessed Be Your Name”–singing of praising God whether in times of plenty or times of want, whether in joy or sorrow, whether in rest or struggle.
Even writing this and mulling over these favorite verses of mine again tonight, have brought great encouragement and refreshment. Keep running, fellow pilgrims. The end is glorious and worth every single step.