Monday, November 18, 2013

Running & Redemption

 I have, for most of my adult life, hated running. 
 Loathed it.
I played sports in High School and when I was late to practice, or when I missed a free throw, or if a ground ball got by  me, the punishment was running.  I was always the one who said "If I am running, come rescue me, because something must be chasing me." 
But secretly, (ok, not-so-secretly anymore now that I have put it on my blog)
I have always, always, always wanted to be a runner.
   People inspire me.  I once went to watch the Nashville marathon.  I left so motivated that I went home, SPRINTED a mile, and haven't even thought of running since then. 
 I was getting bored with my exercise routine, and a friend suggested I train for a 5k. 
Guess what?  I am training for a 5k. 
Most people train for marathons, I know, but not this girl. I had no idea how much more I was going to learn ABOUT LIFE by simply starting the couch-to-5k running plan. 
So far, (I am on week 6) running has been more about character development than training for the Red Shoe Run in Homewood, AL in January.   
I didn't know God wanted to reveal himself with me through this process, but he absolutely is. 
 I understand more of why Paul compares our journey of faith to a "race".
"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.'
1 Timothy 4:7
Getting outside to get started was the hardest part.  Doing something that I do not want to do has never been a strong point of mine.  And I knew this about myself when I initially said I wanted to run the 5k.  So, I paid upfront.  Something is invested, so I can't give up. There is a goal in mind. There is so much to anticipate when I cross that finish line after RUNNING a 5k.  My training will pay off. 
I can only imagine that I will be so excited!! Looking to my goal keeps things in perspective. 
And how much more glory will be revealed when I see Jesus' face?
Training for this 5k hasn't exactly been convenient.  With the time change, it almost gave me a reason not to do it.  It's dark when I get off work, there isn't enough time before work, and I can't train on a treadmill and expect it to be the same as running outside.  But I am seeing that I make time for what is important to me.  I take it one day at a time, and
I don't look ahead to tomorrow's workout. 
There is enough time in everyday to do what God has planned for me to do. 
At first, I would run on trails where I knew I wouldn't see anyone.  I didn't want anyone to see me running.  I am slow. I am definitely not the typical body type for a runner.  I would make sure not to look up and make eye contact with anyone.  But as the weeks have gone on, I have started noticing that friendly smile from a fellow runner...and that smile
 is what keeps me persevering.  That "thumbs up" I get from someone passing
by is irreplaceable. I haven't always seen my need
for my fellow "runners", but now they are a huge part of my training for that day. 
And we all have one goal in mind: to finish our run for that day.  And running alongside others, well it motivates me.
And so it is with me and all of my fellow runners, in the race of faith. 
Another excuse I always used was my foot.  While my foot does have its legitimate weaknesses, it is not paralyzing.  Actually, running is making my foot much stronger.  I do take "off days" to rest my foot.  I need to rest it. 
But I do not need to let my weakness be used as a reason not to meet my goal. It's a form of a trial, not a roadblock. I will not give up.  Even when it is painful!
I love that God takes the mundane, ordinary events in our life and reveals himself to us.  Often in unexpected places. Now that I am into it, it's not so bad.  I actually look forward to it SOMEDAYS.  But I know that the training is preparing me for an even bigger goal.  And I see progress.
And so it is with my race of ordinary days of "training" are preparing me
for an even greater day.  The ultimate day!
"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, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God...
...for the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it."
(Hebrews 12:1-2, 11)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Will We Eat in Heaven?

I was asked this question yesterday, and of course I didn't know the answer.  I mean, will we eat in Heaven?  Will it be manna or will it be feasts?  Or will it be the best pizza you can find?  And does it really matter?  And I say yes.  Yes, it does matter. 
The point of asking me that question wasn't really to get me to figure out if we would eat in Heaven or not.  It was to point me to a greater purpose and to shift my perspective. 
What things really matter in light of eternity?  Will what I wore to church on Sunday really matter?  How about what so-and-so thinks of how my apartment looks? 
And how it is decorated? 
What about my iPhone? 
And what about that longing for a new car that I have? 
What really matters in light of eternity? 
Those are the things that my time, energy, and sacrifice should pour into. 
Which relationships should I really invest in? 
And the big one-- and the one that made this little emotional female cry-- will an earthly marriage even carry over into eternity? 
I just don't live in light of eternity, most of the time.
I know that because of the anxiety I feel when something (silly) goes wrong in my everyday life. 
I do think that new car will make me happy. 
I think a husband will provide companionship that I long for.   
I think my reputation and what people think are very important.
And really, all I am doing is wasting time here, if I long for these earthly things.
 I want to see things with the spiritual eyes God has given me, but so often, the world and it's demands and expectations take my eyes away.

I want to live my life "...on Earth as it is in Heaven..."

I want to live with the mind and heart that this is the only thing that truly matters...
 "After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
Revelation 7:9-10

Monday, November 4, 2013

Taking Back Eden

My heart LONGS for Eden.  That perfect place where God and humans walked hand-in-hand without shame or guilt.  The place that my heart was created to reside.  The place with no more sin.  And the more I walk with God and study his word, the more I see that my purpose is to join him in "Taking Back Eden."  That is why I am here.  To love as he loved.  To be passionate about what he is passionate about.  To walk a redemptive path with my Creator.  Looking to him for my very next breath and even taking the time to rest with him, and in him.
Ultimately, to prepare for his return.

I can get so hurried and anxious and out of time that I lose it. 
I lose vision, I lose stamina, I lose love for myself and others, and I lose sight of my purpose. I overcommit. I forget to be thankful.  I live for myself and for my glory.
...And here come the holidays. 
THANKSGIVING:  A holiday set aside to remember what we are thankful for.  I read a blog the other day that said November is the most likely month that one will be diagnosed with depression.  And that doesn't surprise me. 
And I am no exception. 
The time change affects me greatly, finances are more stretched during the holidays, and as a single person, honestly, holidays can be a dread.
But, do you hear a pattern?  All of those factors are external. 

(By the way, I love the "I am thankful for..." posts on Facebook. 
What a perspective and how encouraging!
 A refreshing change of pace from the "norm" on Facebook!)

This Thanksgiving, as I think about joining with my Heavenly Father in "Taking Back Eden", I choose to look to him and I choose gratitude.
 I choose joy. 
I choose to live in his grace.
I choose to extend grace.
And I choose to share grace.
I choose to look to his promises that fill me with hope. 
I choose to look upon the face of my Savior. 
I choose to thank him:
for who he is, for who he is making me, for the gifts AND trials he gives me, and for who you are. 
I choose to walk hand in hand with him, to love, and to anxiously await the coming of my Savior. 

"...But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ..."
Philippians 3:20