Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Seeing the phrase "run the race" in a whole new light......

On Saturday I got to watch these two really amazing people run the Wisconsin Half Marathon.  Now granted, I might be just a little bit prejudiced since they are my kids.... but still, this is quite the accomplishment.  And this was not their first race of this kind.  Tim has also done a marathon and other half marathons and Gwen has also done other half marathons.  There is so much about this that just leaves me in awe.  They both have jobs, they have four children, they home school their kids, they volunteer at church in more than just a couple of ways, and they still find time to train for these events.  I never really appreciated just how much training you needed to do until I watched Gwen and Tim fitting in those 12 mile runs - not together, of course, since someone has to stay with the kids!  But what a great example they are for those kids!  All four of the kids were there watching first their dad and then their mom cross the finish line and get that medal.  The kids know and understand the hard work  that went into this race.  They have seen their parents sweating and tired and exhausted after runs.  And they have learned that the hard work does pay off when they see those medals.

So the simple the race.... takes on a whole new meaning for me.

I can't help but think of this verse (from the Passion Translation) Hebrews 12:1...
As for us, we have all these great witnesses who encircle us like clouds, each affirming faith's reality.  So we must let go of every wound that has pierced us and the sin we so easily fall into.  Then we will be able to run life's marathon race with passion and determination, for the path has been already marked out before us.   

WOW!  There it is, right in that verse!  Our training for this marathon of life has to consist of those three things.....1.  REALIZING THE REALITY OF FAITH   2- LETTING GO OF EVERY WOUND, and 3 - LETTING GO OF THE SIN WE SO EASILY FALL INTO!

I don't know about you, but looking at that list feels an awful lot like trying to run that half marathon with no training!  Now I am beginning to understand that you have to start off somewhere.  So our training for this big race that is our life, should start off with small bites.  The secret is to follow the training program that has been set out for us.

In order to increase faith, just step back one chapter in the book of Hebrews!  Chapter 11 is the faith hall of fame.  All you have to do is slowly go through that chapter to get a bigger picture of faith.  Then when you have spent some time looking at chapter 11, go back and look at it again.  And again.  For however many times it takes you to get the assurance that these hero's of the faith are now that great cloud of witnesses that encircle us like a cloud.  Doesn't that help to build your faith?  I think I will be spending some time every day in Hebrews Chapter 11.  It is good training for life.

The next part of the training is to let go of all those hurts, wounds and pains that every one of us has.  This might be one or two really big things, or it might be a series of small and/or seemingly insignificant things.  I am sure that you can bring them mind.  If you can't, just stop and ask the Holy Spirit to show you.  He is a great reminder when it comes to these things that are hindering us.  When we ask Jesus to take these things from us, he is faithful to take them away.  Remember, we are in training and this is a process.  So I know that I will be making sure that I am not holding on to any hurt every day!

The last part of the training is to let go of sin.  Everything for the last paragraph applies.  One note on this - I think each of us know where our greatest temptation to sin is.  We know where we can so easily fall.  We just need to let go of that sin, with Jesus' power and strength.  Once again, this is a process thing, and something that needs to be practiced every day.  I am most surely speaking to myself right now!

This photo of Gwen was taken at just about the half way point of the race.  I had held on to the spot on the race route, along with Lia, Ellie, Zeke and Anna, just so that we could cheer Gwen on for the last half of the race.  You can see that the path for this race was marked with orange cones to keep the runners on the right route.  Gwen said that knowing we would be there, and seeing us cheer for her was just the boost that she needed to keep going.  

The good news about our life marathon race is that we also have a wonderful cheering section along the way.  That great cloud of witnesses is right there with us.  We can also depend on our brothers and sisters who are running along with us to keep us on track.  (Just another plug here for small groups.  If you don't have a group of people that you can "train" with, that will support you and love you in the process, I encourage you to find one!) 

The best news of all is that the path has already been marked off for us.  We don't have orange cones that we can see (in all honesty, don't you sometimes wish that there were such clear directions when decisions need to made?) but we have the Holy Spirit to guide and direct us.  We have the Bible to give us boundaries.  And we have the body of believers to help us along the way.  

All of this hard work is so worth it to be able to run this "life marathon" with passion and determination.  Both Gwen and Tim ran faster than previous races and beat their personal records on this race.  This is a great reminder that each of us has our own race to run.  We are not competing against anyone else.  Each of us has a different path.  No two are alike.  Each has been uniquely designed and is perfect for us.  What a wonderful and amazing God we have.  

Thanks to Gwen and Tim, I will be running my life's marathon with more passion and more determination.

Jesus, thank you for this revelation of your plan for each of us.  Holy Spirit, help us to remember to train well for the marathon that is our life.  Give us grace to do the hard work.  Increase our faith and give us courage and strength to let go of the things that are hindering us.  Thank you for the examples that you give us to encourage us to stay on the path you have marked out for us.  Amen 

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