Saturday, April 21, 2012

For the Runners and Walkers, the Bikers and Hikers, and of course, the Sitters, Knitters, and Quilters

happy freakin' weekend, sweetest friends.  It's a beautiful day outside, and I'm happy to be alive -- exhausted, somewhat overwhelmed, emotional but so incredibly blessed.  I hope yall had such great Spring Breaks and Easter holidays and whatever else you've been celebrating recently -- birthdays, marriages, anniversaries, engagements, all the above!  Last night, we celebrated our last Theta date party for the semester (and my college experience -- ahhh)!  It was so fun, and a great one to end on.  I seriously cannot believe that a mere three weeks from today I will be an official college graduate.  Honestly it kind of makes me want to say some choice words that are probs not blog appropriate, so we'll just limit it to ... what the heck!!?

In a few weeks when it's all said and done, I have great intentions of spending lots of time in prayer, reflecting over all of the lessons the Lord has so graciously taught me in college and posting a few of them on the good, old blog.  This is because recently I've found myself saying quite frequently, "If only I would have known then what I know now..."  And lemme tell ya, now I don't even know much at all, but ohhhh the things I have learned the past four years.  But whatever little wisdom I do have, if I can share it with someone and it might save him or her some pain -- Praise Jesus!

But for the time being, I feel so compelled to give glory to my Father in heaven and share with yall a little bit about what the Lord has so relentlessly been putting on my heart.  Know I say relentlessly because it takes me about 39,384,729,813,984,023 times to learn things, so He has to be relentless.  Praise Jesus that He never gives up on us.  He's my hero.

Here it goes!  Okay so almost five-ish months ago, I decided it would be a good idea to run the Oklahoma City Marathon.  I don't run.  I mean I do, but I'm not a runner.  I wasn't born to run, so to speak.  In fact, had someone told me a year ago I would be running 26.2 miles, I would have said, there's no way in hell.  Literally, no way.  Hard as I try, I could never do that.

It's funny to look back because I think I originally wanted to train for the marathon because I knew it would force me to be disciplined in keeping my body healthy.  There were other motives mixed in there like wanting to look good (just being honest), probably because it sounded cool and I struggle with always wanting to win the approval and affection of others (again very transparent), and to glorify the Lord.  But in all seriousness, seeking to glorify the Lord was not my whole-heart motivation.

But here's what I've found throughout the course of the past however many weeks that have been tainted with faithfulness and unfaithfulness on my part.  When it comes to the big things in life, there are no worldly factors motivating enough to get me to the end.  No amount of people telling me that I look good or saying, "Wow, that's awesome! You're so cool..." or whatever people say to marathon runners or people who do crazy, intense things would give me enough strength or comfort or joy or calm my nerves in a way powerful enough to get me through to the very end.  With those things alone, I couldn't do it.  I can't do it just by that motivation.  I've tried, and I fail miserably every single time.  The path gets longer and longer with no end in sight.

But there is something that does enable me to do it.  And it's not something, it's SOMEONE and His name is Jesus.  It is by His grace, His unmerited favor and love and strength and power and mercy that I can run not only the marathon but the entire journey of life.  It is only when I surrender and admit that I have nothing to offer -- that even my best efforts or best intentions which are often pursued in pride or in vain. It's only when I eat my humble pie and say, "Lord, I have not given this my best effort.  In fact, lemme just tell you, there is nothing in me that wants to run 12 miles tomorrow or 18 for that matter.  I'm weak.  I'm tired.  I don't feel good.  And honestly, I doubt whether or not I really can do it.  I know you're enough, but look at me.  I can't do it."

And literally guys, I'm brought to tears and have chills all over my body because Jesus looks at my fragile, clay self and says, Fix your eyes on me.  Your strength comes from my grace.  I am with you always.  You can't do it alone.  Rely on me.  Depend on me.  Know that I am enough.  I AM ENOUGH.  I bore the sins of the world on my shoulders.  There's nothing you can do to make me love you more, and there's nothing you can do to make me love you less.  You have my complete approval. You have my heart forever.  Every morning you wake up, I can't wait to bless you.  I can't wait for you to walk outside and see the trees and the flowers I grew just for you -- just so you would know how much you mean to me.  I'm not going to leave you to run the marathon on your own, are you kidding me?  I'm literally going to be with you every step of the way.  You will not be defeated.  No weapon formed against you will remain because I WILL FIGHT FOR YOU.  I will run with you.  I have always been with you and will always be with you.  I will hold you and support you with my victorious right hand.  Don't begin doubting whether or not you're going to make it to the end.  Again I say, FIX YOUR EYES ON ME, the author and perfecter of the faith who can't wait to heal you, help you, and supply your every need.  You are weak, but I am strong.  Rely on me.  Run in faith.  Run in faith and do not doubt for a second whether or not you'll finish because you will.  I will run with you.  And if you fall, I will carry you.

You see, I am rather independent.  I like to do things on my own.  I don't like to be tied down to other people or commitments, to be honest -- it's not particularly a good thing, but it's true.  And my selfish, sinful nature hates the idea of having to have someone carry me to the finish line or through life.  It says, "I want to do it on my own, and I can because I'm strong enough.  And I can do it."  But guys, I can't.  I can't do it on my own.

In John 15, it is written that Jesus said, "Apart from me you can do nothing."

I can't.

I can't do anything apart from Jesus.  Granted, I try sometimes, but the fact of the matter is I can't.

But relentlessly faithful in character, He says again...

Walk in faith.  Walk in faith, believing I will provide for you, not because you did anything to deserve my provision.  Not because you trained well or  represented me well for the kingdom of heaven but because of who I am.  I will be faithful to you ALWAYS.  You are precious to me.  I have loved you with an everlasting love.  No, you didn't do anything to deserve my love or to win my affections, you simply have it -- always and forever.  Don't just let me run with you.  Let me carry you.  Not only in the marathon but in every area of your life.  Fall into my arms.  Take the burdens off your back and lay them at my feet.  Take my yoke upon you, and in that I mean that I want you to trust me.  I will not simply light your path, I will go and prepare the path before you.  Believe in me.  Have faith that I am who I say I am... that I will never leave you or forsake you.  

Strength, love, kindness, mercy, friendships, family -- they're all grace gifts from God.  We have done nothing to deserve the blessings around us -- the trees, the stars, the smell of the air after the rain (I sound so earthy right now, I know).  But we haven't.  We must admit that we're weak -- admit that it is only by God's grace that we can and will make it through this life.  And it's not like he's just waiting at the finish line, cheering us on from heaven, He's running with us every step of the way.  May we BELIEVE it.  May we live it.  We never have to be afraid of the seemingly insurmountable obstacles ahead of us.  Because we know that no matter what is ahead, no matter what's inside of us, no matter what dire constraints we're in the middle of, He who is in you is greater than He who is in the world.  We have been given everything we need for life and godliness.  His promises are our shield and our protection forever.

May we STAND to see the SALVATION of the LORD in EVERY SITUATION, trusting that the battle is not ours but His.  We have victory in and through Christ ALONE.  May we take refuge in His protection and believe that HE WILL FIGHT FOR US -- not because of anything we have to offer Him or could offer Him -- but simply because of who He is and His deep, deep love for us.

Whether we're walking or running or biking or hiking or sailing or sitting or knitting, may we enter into all situations unafraid, confident, and REJOICING from the beginning because of how incredible our heavenly Father is.  And just to be honest and transparent in wrapping all this up if it hasn't been clear, I have messed up so many times in training for the marathon.  I haven't run as much as I should have.  I haven't eaten as healthy as I should have.  I've lacked lots of motivation on days.  I've been fearful and weary.  But Jesus doesn't care.  He knows my weaknesses.  And I BELIEVE and STAND ON THE TRUTH because of His gracious, unfailing, faithful, loving character, He's going to do it with me anyway.  And by His grace we will finish with VICTORY!  That truth isn't just true for me... It's true for all of us who relinquish control of our lives to our great and victorious God.  The battle has already been won.  


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