I recently saw a bumper sticker that made me laugh out loud.
Yes, I don’t run. I have hard time with it. I like the idea of running…the cool shoes, the fancy workout clothes, the amazing body that probably comes with it, and the sticker you can put on the back of your car announcing the courageous distances you have conquered.
But I don’t run. I have a hard time with it. I have some pretty decent flip-flops and a new shirt that says, “namaste in bed.” I am slowly beginning to accept the extra 15 lb. around my middle and now I can have a sticker on my car…0.0…and proud.
I am realizing this morning, that I also don’t like to run spiritual races. I have a hard time with it.
This morning’s verse hit a nerve in my soul, like most morning verses these days:
Hebrews 12:1, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”
Bleh. Run. With endurance.
“With endurance” implies that the race will necessitate endurance. Which means I probably will have a hard time with it. This is not a promise for an easy, uplifting Sunday jog. We are promised vigorous races that we have to “endure”.
My current house buying experience is asking me to endure changes, instability, lots of waiting, and unending unknowns. As soon I think I see the finish line ahead of me, I realize I’m only entering a hillside and my vision has been deceived. As the horizon line swells, the optical illusion is revealed and I watch the finish line disappear behind the mountain. This race has tricked me, pricked me, and left me exhausted, barely able to catch my breath.
Do you remember the first time your mom or dad stood in the swimming pool and asked you, a trusting child, to jump off the edge into their arms?
As a mom, I now realize what was really happening in that water. Often, my parent, or older sibling, slowly stepped back forcing me to swim further and longer than I ever expected. And usually, I ended up a little upset, even if I just doggie-paddled half the length of the pool.
This is me and God right now. I jumped. He’s backing up. And I’m finding my water-legs. And I’m a little ticked off that now I’ve no option but to learn to swim. I feel like the whole world is watching, (though I know this is the farthest thing from the truth). And I feel like God is playing some kind of mean prank…just for laughs.
This season of “homelessness”, living with another family of 6, (two of which are toddlers who have made it their passion to NOT share and to tattle-tale on each other)…this season of multiple closing dates that come and go, all while storing our stuff in 4 places across the city…this season of school supply lists and uniform orders that have no place to be stored except for the front passenger’s seat of my car…this season of suitcases and the same two outfits for over 3 weeks now…this season has tossed me into the race without water, into the pool without a floaty.
I don’t run. I have hard time with it.
But last night, the couple who has been so generous with us, sharing their home with us, “crazies”, sat down across from us and shared much more. They shared encouragement from God’s word. They talked through the decisions that lay before us. They gave perspective, hope, and most precious of all, witness to God’s faithfulness and sovereignty.
Today’s verse hit a nerve in my soul.
I am surrounded by a cloud of witnesses, and therefore, I can lay aside all my weight and all my fear and all the doubts that are entangling me. I am not alone. And now, the word “endurance” doesn’t stick out and prick my heart quite as much. It’s a little two letter-word that now catches my eye: “us“.
Let “us” run with endurance. I don’t run. I have a hard time with it. But my wobbly legs and flailing arms are being supported and encouraged and I don’t feel alone. We run. We don’t have to have as hard a time with it.
And God stands at the finish line, encouraging me to push through, telling me, “look, you’re doing it!” And, though I’m still a little miffed at the process, I realize I’m finding my legs, my breath, my stroke, and my pace. I don’t know when I will reach the finish line. But I do know that struggling along the way will only produce good things, if I allow it.
There are benefits to running. Cool outfits, slimmer waistlines, and stickers that bear witness to the lengths that have been endured. Spiritual running is no different.