Running the Race (when the pavement is rough)
By E. Lamb
Hebrews 12:1 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.
What does it mean to persevere? According to the dictionary definition it means, “To persist in or remain constant to a purpose, idea, or task in the face of obstacles or discouragement.” It is easier to run on a smooth path with no obstacles or discouragement and remain constant or steady. What happens when we are running with God and the path is crowded with disappointment, pain, discouragement, setbacks, unanswered prayer, and obstacles. Maybe your obstacle is sickness or disease or a sickness of a loved one. How well do our feet hit the pavement when our legs are tired and weary from rocky terrain? Many fade away when the road gets rough and rocky. It is there when the path moves from smooth to unsteady that we find out what we believe. Do we believe that God is still on the road with us, or has He abandoned us in the midst of the race? Do we lean on Him or strive to keep ourselves going? It is during the times of facing obstacles and disappointment we discover what we truly believe about God and what we believe about ourselves. When we are not in control, when we cannot see the next phase of the journey, we find out what is in our spiritual foundations.
I can write this particular blog with deep compassion. I understand the word preserve. There have been many moments in my life where I looked up to heaven with tears clouding my vision proclaiming, “The Lord comforts those who mourn.” Unfortunately and fortunately my heart understands suffering. I dare not compare my life to another. There are people who have and who are experiencing far more than I ever will. I simply speak from what I know. I know the pain of being rejected, despised, betrayed, and hated, even by people who are relatives. I understand the obstacles of persecution, harassment, and loss. I understand what it is like to watch a loved one suffer and die to the evil disease called cancer. I understand the stress of caring for a sick person and there is nothing you can do nothing to make it better. I understand what it means to surrender your heart to someone, only to have them break it and hand it back to you in a million pieces. I have experienced quite a bit for such a short time on earth. I understand what it means to just be tired. Tired of bad news, tired of trauma, and tired of drama. Jesus has picked me up from many a weeping moments whispering, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” I tell you these things to hopefully encourage you that if you keep going there is a blessing on the other side. I did not always believe it in the middle of the rocky road. I did know that I could not, would not be able to live without Jesus so my heart cried out, “Jesus no matter what, don’t let my heart fail.”
I think sometimes we simply need someone to be honest and say walking with Jesus is not always like dancing on a cloud. It isn’t. There are good days and bad days. There are joyful days and days filled with sorrow. There are days I thought my heart might literally burst from pain, but He never let me down. The best part of running the race with Him isn’t a life filled with no problems, it’s a life lived with the One who will remain steady and constant through those problems. God doesn’t always deliver us from; He often delivers us through. When I look back over my life there are years I am certain the only reason I kept going was because He carried me through. I am not ashamed to state my weakness or frailty or seasons of pain. This is real life. Real life has seasons, setbacks, obstacles, and disappointments.
The rough pavement if we allow it produces a deeper intimacy with Him, a dependence on His leading, and builds compassion in our hearts for those that will endure the same things or have endured the same trials. So my friends as you run your race, my prayer for you is that you never ever give up. If you have to limp across the finish line, keep going. Don’t look at who is ahead of you, beside you, or behind you. You are being cheered on to victory by those who ran this race before you. You won’t die! Jesus is with you. Believe God loves you even if your circumstances may say otherwise. My prayers are with you. Keep your eyes on the prize. He is worth it. I promise you He is worth it. I don’t regret one moment with Him. I have found the greatest love and comfort in His arms. He is the best friend you will ever have. He loves you and He is with you. You are deeply loved. 🙂