buildingbodies4christ

building on the foundation of Jesus Christ

Archive for the tag “Running the Race”

Finished the Race

Please forgive the silence of the last couple of weeks. I have been feeling a bit overwhelmed. My mind just hasn’t been able to settle down on one thing. In the past, I have been able to write through the grief; but in the last couple of weeks, the words were not there. This time something’s different. Lately, I just want to run away or crawl into a hole and wait until the world rights its self again. Do you ever have those times?

The last time I wrote, a storm was approaching. The eastern part of the state was devastated by the storm. I wasn’t affected but friends and family were. Because of the weather, I was a little concerned I wouldn’t be able to see my Dad. He had taken a turn for the worst that week. I thought he would die before I got back to see him. I didn’t want the last time I saw him to be my last. I wanted a little more time to be with him. God granted me the time I needed. It was hard seeing him though.

Dad was so frail. He was once so strong – he could do anything in my sight. He was a guiding force to me and my family. He helped us to navigate the deep waters. Dad and I never had really deep conversations. Our relationship was different. We did things together. His love language was spending time together. So I spent a lot of time with him throughout the years.

When I was younger, I did as much as I could just to be with him. I chopped wood, raked leaves, mowed grass, anything he was doing I wanted to help. We washed the cars every Saturday even changed the oil when needed, played golf when he would let me. There were only a very few times in my life that I ever played golf without him. I was always his little helper whenever he went to fix stuff – he was a good fixer – he could do anything.

As I grew older, my relationship didn’t really change with him. He has been central to my life. The thought of being without his presence has been overwhelming. However, the grief isn’t like what I experienced with my Mom. I have been grieving the loss for the last two or three years because my Dad hasn’t been the same since he had an infection. His mind was not the same after that infection. He no longer called to say hi. If I wanted to speak to him, I had to initiate the conversation.

This is truly when I lost my Dad. It was a drastic change to our relationship. That’s when my grief started. The time I spent with him over the last couple of years is still special. He still told me every time I was with him how much he loved me. He was still there just not in the usual way. I spent as much time as I could with him whenever I had the opportunity. So when the storm came two weeks ago, I was desperate to get to Dad.

I was able to spend three days with him. He wasn’t awake much, but I was able to lie beside him and just hold his hand or touch his arm. When I left that Tuesday afternoon, I had a feeling it would be the last time I saw him and it was. He died early this past Wednesday morning. I was okay with that last goodbye. I didn’t have a last conversation with him like I had with my Mom. But the one thing I wanted to do with my Mom was to lie with her and I did that with Dad. I was okay letting that be the last memory with him.

It has been heartwarming to see the tributes from my nephews concerning my Dad’s passing. Who knew when we were taking those annual family beach vacations Dad was making such an impression with those young men. Apparently, my Dad had some interesting conversations with them up on the crow’s nest – conversations they say they will never forget. Dad also taught those boys a few things about how to love a family well. They saw my Dad’s love for his daughters and his wife.

Everyone who ever met my Dad would say – Jack loves his girls – and he did, really well. Dad’s passing will be deeply felt by all of his friends and family. He loved well, but we loved him well too. He is home with Jesus and with my Mom. When he took his last breath here, he took his first real breath in eternity. What a celebration he had waiting on him. I can’t imagine all he has experienced in the last few days.

I may see his earthly shell for the last time today, but he is more alive today than he has ever been. It’s not a time of sadness but of great joy. My Dad finished his race. He completed the tasks he was assigned. The future will not be the same as it was before his passing. But we have been made richer by his presence and the things we have learned from him. Dad is still the central to who I am by what he taught me. I am forever changed because of him and I want to honor his memory well. I love you, Dad.

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. 1 Timothy 4:7-8

Advertisements

Badge of Honor

When my Australian friend was describing me to her mother, she called me “sporty.” That is a really good description of the younger me, but these days I’m not sure how much “sport” I have in me. I wouldn’t say I was a rough and tumble type back in the day. I enjoyed sports and played as much as possible. But as far as physical contact sports, I shied away from getting hurt. In my younger years, my best friend was a boy named Jack. He was a year older and had a few pounds on me. Whenever we played together, I was leery about playing aggressively against him because he would always take it too far. I was not a cry baby so I would always shrug it off. Getting hurt took the fun out of the game!

When I was in my mid-thirties, I decided to try my hand with martial arts. I loved it in theory; but on sparring days, I hoped my sparring partners would be skinny little kids. However, it was always the ladies with a weight advantage and would put me on my butt more times than I would like to admit. My Mom was quite concerned with my new sport due to the possibilities of getting hurt. Me too. And one day it happened; I had to call Mom and tell her she was right. However, the injury did not come from sparring partners; it came with learning a new kick. It put me out of commission for about two months – in a wheel chair; cast on one leg and a leg brace on the other. My dream of earning a black belt was over. I was done. The fun of it was gone.

Needless to say, I have a few scars from a few misadventures. However, that tumble with martial arts didn’t leave a physical scar; it played with my psyche. Two months in a wheelchair gives you a different perspective. Even though I have always had an aversion to getting hurt, I became more apprehensive about falling down. I became more conscious of playing it safe; making sure my footing was sure on slippery slopes. Anything that looks potentially hazardous I avoid doing. Sometimes I have missed out on the fun just because of a new fear of getting hurt. Is the fear rational? Possibly, but it doesn’t mean that I have to sit on the sidelines because of it.

A few years ago, I went with the church ladies to a mountain retreat. It was in the fall of the year, and the leaves were at the peak of color. The house where we were staying had a breath-taking view of a lake surrounded by the color of autumn. Upon arrival, we all decided to hike down to the lake. The path looked easy enough. We rounded a bend, and my fear raised its ugly head. The way down from that point on was filled with loose rocks. My prayer life took on a whole new dimension that day. I arrived at the bottom of the hill; and it was a glorious time of rejoicing – not only for the beauty that surrounded us, but for the relief of making it to the bottom without incident.

The other night I read an excerpt from a message from C. H. Spurgeon in my Streams in the Desert devotional that had me thinking of my fear of falling. He mentioned the soldiers who had come home from battle showing their scars and talking about the battles they had come through. There was a (not noted) quote in the devotional “God will not look you over for medals, degree or diplomas, but for scars.” Think about when we get to heaven, we will not talk about playing it safe. We won’t sit around and tell of the things we didn’t do because it was too difficult or a possibility of getting hurt.

The Apostle Paul wrote of his many sufferings as a badge of honor. He had survived beatings, shipwrecks, jail time, and even stoning. At the end of his life, he wrote that he had fought the good fight; he finished the course, and kept the faith. There will be many seated at the wedding table who display battle scars, and we can anticipate hearing all the stories.

It’s not about playing it safe for Jesus. The fun is being in the game. The slippery slope is meant to give us a thrill on the way down (and draw closer to Jesus) and a foothold for the way up. When I began the ascent back to the mountain retreat, I realized going up was much easier because of the rocks placed along the path. I kept looking up to find the next step. Each step took me closer to my destination. Once I made it back, the view was still stunning; but I knew what it was like at the bottom of the mountain, and I could appreciate the view all the more. The journey is always better with a little adventure – even if it’s scary. We might get a few scars in the process, but the stories will be incredible. We are meant for so much more than playing it safe.

This is the only race worth running. I’ve run hard right to the finish, believed all the way. All that’s left now is the shouting—God’s applause! Depend on it, he’s an honest judge. He’ll do right not only by me, but by everyone eager for his coming. 2 Timothy 4:7-8 (MSG)

A New Rhythm

We had a rather nasty storm roll through our area last week causing high wind. My yard was covered in pine cones and sticks. This past Sunday was gorgeous, and I decided to enjoy the afternoon picking up sticks (and pine cones). The morning was spent in church, and I also listened to another service on line. I was ready to digest the messages I heard. Something about activity helps me to process information as well as gives me head space for the Holy Spirit to speak.

While I was outside doing my thing, there were a couple of teenagers who walked by. I heard them coming when they turned the corner to come down my street. They had some type of music playing (loudly) while they walked. As they walked by, I thought it would be cool to have a soundtrack playing as we walked through our lives. What would my soundtrack be? The theme from Rocky? An Enya tune (is she still around)? Something peppy? Or something low key? Or something dramatic with anticipation for the moment? As I was contemplating that thought, my mind drifted into the messages I heard.

On Saturday, I listened to a speaker (Lisa Nichols) who gave a very inspirational talk concerning her book Abundance Now. She had a couple of points that were worth writing down and remembering. In her teen years, Lisa told a story how her grandmother encouraged her before a big swim meet. The meet was going to be an impossible feat as she was competing in an older age class. Her grandmother told her “winners never quit, and quitters never win; and she was not a quitter.”

At the start of the race, Lisa began to repeat “Winners never quit, quitters never win;” over and over. It became her cadence for her strokes. When she flipped for her turn, she saw her close competitor, but she thought they were in competition for dead last. When she finally touched the wall, she was alone – no one was even close to finishing beside her. She had out swum everyone in the heat and set a national record. That saying became the “soundtrack” that played throughout the tough times in her life. I must admit I was a bit envious of Lisa’s story. It’s powerful with lots of things to contemplate.

For the last week or so, I have been pondering my vision or my goals for my life. I don’t seem to have anything really out there to strive for. I don’t really have something I want to accomplish before I die. Sure, I want to have a great legacy; to mark my time here on earth. But I have no clue what I should do for God’s Kingdom. These thoughts led to the message from Sunday morning. That message was “shameless audacity” for praying bold prayers. The pastor said, “The size of your prayers shows the size of your God.”

Hmmm, my prayers seem to be rather anemic right now. I have had a few times in my life where I have prayed specifically for God to act and He did. But this is not a general characteristic of my prayer life. I throw out generalities and ask God to handle things (in His will). If I want God to act in a BIG way, then I have to ask persistently and ask them boldly for His intervention. The pastor mentioned he believed that God likes for us to ask for BIG things – it actually honors Him when we believe He can do what we ask of Him. Prayers shouldn’t be a formality, but a heart turned toward Him – seeking Him HARD! Pursuing Him with shameless audacity.

Lisa didn’t know she had a national title in her, but her grandmother knew of her potential. God knows our potential as well. He knows what He has put in us. But we have to be willing to get in the water and start making the waves by our strokes. We have to be in bold prayer to ask God to move mightily in us and through us. We need to listen to the right soundtrack and make sure we have people in our corner who will cheer us on. There is a point of intersection where our desires and His Kingdom come together.

Swimmers have racing lanes. We each run our own race. God didn’t give everyone the same vision. We all have an individual lane marked out for us. But we’ll never get to the wall if we quit now. I want to finish well, and break all the barriers to a fruitful life. Winners never quit, and our victory has already been won! Thank you, Jesus! Honor God with bold requests, and watch Him do amazing things!

“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Luke 11:9-10)

The Vision

Do you have a vision of the future? Do you dream about what your life will look like in five or ten years? I can’t really say I have a great vision of the future. Sometimes, it feels like the future is very dark. Just look around and see all the things happening. It can be nothing but doom and gloom. I believe we are meant to dream though. God places in us a passion for something. It’s a matter of discovering what drives us to fulfill our purpose. We all have a unique calling. I believe there is a beautiful future ahead for each of us. Even in the presence of such oppression and darkness. God has something amazing for us. We are in the times before Jesus returns. God chose us for this hour. It’s no accident that we are here for this hour. We are here for something greater than what we could ever ask or imagine! Just imagine that!

There is a vision of the future that I get excited about every time I think about it. Every single day, we are getting closer to seeing Jesus. Even if I do not see Him coming in the sky – I will see Him when it’s my time to leave this earth. We are closer to seeing Him, but are we ready? We are told that Jesus will come when we least expect it. Beth Moore told her simulcast audience a couple of weeks ago to stop saying Jesus is coming on this particular day. She said that it’s delaying the time because we are expecting Him on that day! (She gave a humorous account of our predicting something that no one can predict).

Last week I wrote about The Day. Jesus sang the song as He was leaving for the Garden of Gethsemane – this is the day that the Lord has made. Finishing my thoughts about The Day, there is another day in which we are to rejoice. God set a day when Jesus will come once again for His bride. I think Jesus is at the threshold of heaven waiting for the word from God to “Go!” God is patiently waiting on the fullness of time. We are to be watchmen on the wall. We are to be about God’s work. We are not to be caught unaware. We are not to be in situations that we would be embarrassed if Jesus came for us. We are to have our conflicts resolved; forgiveness should be offered. We are given tasks to fulfill. We should not delay doing them. It’s time to get it done. We are to run our race until the end.

The vision for the future is bright. It is not a hopeless situation, but a hopeful expectation. Times are definitely rocking toward a dark day when the heavens will roll up and all hell will break loose. As long as the light is still shining on the people of God, we still have time to act. We still are able to reach those who are walking in darkness. God is still calling people to Himself. God has promised many blessings to those who endure until the end. Let’s run with endurance. Let’s face the giants of oppression with the power we’re given in Jesus Christ! We are not meant to shrink away, but stand in fight with the determination of a champion prize-fighter! We have already won and we need to remember who we are! We are victorious in the battle.

The vision of the future is brighter still. And we will rejoice together with one voice for the glory of the Lord! Jesus had that day in mind when He endured the cross; He endured the cross with joy because He had a vision of the future joy that surrounded the throne of God. As disciples of Jesus, we are the children of light. We are not meant to hide our light. Let it shine before all humankind so on that day, all the nations will be represented in front of the throne – REJOICING! Lord Jesus come! Let Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven! For this is the day that You have made; we are rejoicing with heaven for this day! And all God’s people said – AMEN!

Jesus replied, “My light will shine for you just a little longer. Walk in the light while you can, so the darkness will not overtake you. Those who walk in the darkness cannot see where they are going. Put your trust in the light while there is still time; then you will become children of the light.” John 12:35-36

Post Navigation