I don't know about you, running is not something I do voluntarily. When I was young I was very fast. I would shock people at what I could do around the track. I loved playing tag, baseball, softball, anything that involved running. As I've gotten older, running is just not fun anymore. And since my affliction, running is not in my game plan at all. But the concept of running has been in my mind a lot for a couple of years. Why? I don't know. I mean, I can't do it, so why think about it. But, it seems there are races, 5 Ks, marathons every where I turn.
In 2015 my family was involved in a fundraiser for raising money to get an egg farm going in Mozambique. (Click this link for more info. http://marketministries.com/) When we heard about it, I thought I could train and by the time the race came around I would be able to do it. Well, I quickly realized that I could not walk, let alone run the race. I was devastated. I wanted to run it. I pushed my family into the race so I would not have to go it alone. But I was alone. On the sidelines cheering them on. They ran in my place. One of the many things I've learned in this time is that my heart has bigger aspirations than my body. I try not to despair, knowing that at any moment things could change - miracle any one?
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. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2
I have thought a lot about this race that God has marked out for us. Let's analyze it. First, God is the creator of the race. He's the master planner. He knows the course, the length, the pitfalls, the heights, the corners, curves, etc. He marked (notice verb tense) out this race. I would venture to say that God had my race in mind before time began. Then, as we look further into this verse, it tells us that there will be snares - hindrances, sin and entanglements. There are some snares that are our own doing - plain and simple, it's our sin. Yes, we live in a fallen world and we will have sin because of that, but I don't have to live in habitual sin. That's where we run into trouble. I have found that I need to run to Jesus as my Refuge because He is my Strength to help me not to remain in sin (Proverbs 18:10). If I do find myself stuck, I need to confess and move on. But the other snares, they could be plans of the enemy to take me out, snarl me in a vice or they could be just because we live in a fallen world. Stuff happens. To everybody. For my situation I had to really pray through what was going on and what type of snare I ran into. Within the first few months I felt God tell me that this was His doing. This affliction was completely and utterly His plan for my life. Wow. Did I really want to hear that? On one hand yes, on the other hand - no way! At least I know the source, the author. I know God is involved. This did not happen without His knowledge. I am completely within His care. He marked out this race for me, remember? So, this is the race He has for me. A race that includes suffering. Physical suffering. What I have found to be hard is accepting that my course has taken this turn. I did not see it coming. I could say that I did not even train for it, but in looking back that is not true. I just did not know I was in training. All the previous trials and snares up to this point were in preparation for the biggest curve in my race. The highest hill, the toughest spot.
And I did not even see it coming. I did not even know it was in my race.
Wow. I guess if I would have known I would have jumped the track. Maybe, maybe not. Because I have found Jesus to be very near and real to me in a way that I never thought possible. And this suffering, this gift of suffering, has made it possible. Possible to WANT to stay engaged in the race I am running.
Those scars are because of me. My sin. All our sin. This always cuts me to the quick. Always. I will have a new body in heaven, no scars, no more tears. But Jesus? The nails that hung Him on the cross, that He willingly took for me and became my sin? Well, the scars that those nails left, the scratches and thorns on His body have left an indelible mark on Him for us, for me. It is this Jesus that we see when we look at Him. And He is so precious to look at.
So, as I run this race, I have a goal. It's Jesus. I am running to Him. He's at the finish line. But, do you know what? He's also at the beginning and in the middle, and end, and everywhere in between. I am not alone. Oh, my enemy wants me to believe that I am alone, all alone, wretchedly alone. But I read in my Bible Psalm 23:4 -
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for You are with me.
Even though this race is hard, and frankly one that I did not sign up for - I was waiting in line for ice cream, right? I find that Jesus knows what He is doing. He is Sovereign. I can trust Him. He has marked out a race just for me. Not a one-size fits all, but one just for me. There is comfort in that because it tells me that God is VERY INTIMATELY involved in my life. Always. And forever. And I'm glad