The Race

Runners have open hands, relaxed bodies, smooth strides, despite the race. If you're holding onto something, let it go. Relax; no matter how many false starts, how many people in your lane… faster runners, relax.  When people jump the gun, wait until YOU are instructed. If someone's in your lane, move over. If someone is faster than you, draft. Use their strength to pull you to the finish. Whatever you do, don't stop running.

This was a FaceBook status I posted a few years ago. When it popped up as one of my memories, I smiled. It was something that encouraged me. It was me encouraging myself. Let me tell you a secret…lots of times when I have something to say or share with other people, it seems like that word is for me too! It truly helps me. How cool is it that God will use what we can relate to in order for us to understand? How amazing is it that He will allow us to hear the help WE need from our very own mouths and watch as that message can impact someone else at the same time? I relate to sports, so this reference works for me. I get it. This is real life. "Don’t stop running, don’t stop going"…Words that I tell myself all the time. Doesn’t everything seem like a race? 

Finish Line.JPG

Every day we find ourselves “running” to get where we have to go. We rush in and out of everywhere to go from one place to the next; one event to the other…it seems like we never see the finish line. I find myself racing to achieve so many goals, and I, in essence, lose sight of the main goal. I really want to achieve…JOY. Do you know how long it has taken me to figure that out??? JOY…not happiness, but joy. I have realized that all of the chaos of life and all the running, the grind of the day to day life has truly been for my happiness.  How is that possible, you might ask? Well, let me tell you…I go to work because basically, y’all, I like stuff. SORRY…get ready for this transparent moment. I like to get things for my home, my family, my children and of course myself. Being able to work allows me to do those things. All of the running I do for my children and all three million things that they are involved in, is literally for happiness; theirs and mine. I love to see them smile, achieve and grow. I love it when they do well because it makes me proud! ( I’m human, folks and yes, I am not ashamed to be proud.) I try to surround them with inspiration and watch them be themselves. From the most serious moments in life to catching them being silly in their rooms, I LOVE watching them grow. I try to encourage them through all the "I can't do it!" whines with little bits of inspiration throughout the house...hoping they understand the encouragement and support enough to bring them courage and happiness as well.

I get involved with organizations and groups because it makes me happy to be connected to something and make a difference. All of these examples are ways that I have attempted to find happiness... until they didn’t make me happy anymore. Until I realized that my happiness was tied to circumstances and when those circumstances didn’t go the way I wanted them to, I wasn’t happy. I had to change that mentality because truthfully, in all my attempts to be happy, to create "happiness" and surround myself and my family with "happiness," it actually created more stress and a miserable atmosphere for all of us. And that’s rough, especially when you only want what’s best. 

How I Train

I have had to learn that happiness does not constitute my joy. It hasn’t been the easiest concept to grasp but it has been something that I will do my best to keep in mind. There are a few scriptures that I have to constantly remind myself in order to keep it together some days.  I have to remember to keep my mind on God, so that everything else seems small. I have to keep my mind on Him to bring me peace and perspective so that I can find joy in even the smallest things; the smallest accomplishments.

Isaiah 26:3-4

Thou will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Trust ye in the Lord for ever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength: (KJV)

Everlasting strength…that is exactly what we need to finish what we set out to do in life. If I have to run this race, I want to have everlasting strength, and according to the Word, that is what I will be given if I keep my mind and my focus, on Him. When I think of all the races I run and how they literally revolve around my family I think, there is no better feeling than to see one of my babies smile or laughing. To know they are truly enjoying themselves and I can catch that moment, makes my day! That is joy!

Then I am reminded in Galatians 5:22-23…

 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness,
 faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (NIV)

So, if I say I am a child of God and I want to portray the image of Christ, and I don't have these characteristics, then am I really bearing the fruit of who I really am? Am I being who I am called to be?? I must admit, I struggle at times to bear all these fruits; especially at the same time ( help me Lord, lol) but, I want to aim for them all. I am the daughter of the most high God! I have been covered by the blood of my Savior and because of the grace given to me by One who was blameless for all the sins He died for, my aim, my goal, is to bear one of these fruits. As I study, I am learning that they are all tied together. If you get one, you can get two and then three and then eventually you will have them all to bear witness.  It ain’t easy, but doggone it, I’m going to try.

The last few scriptures I think on are those we have all heard, recited, and shared in parts or in their entirety. These are the verses that help me hit the mark in the dead center of the target. 

Psalm 51:10
 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. (KJV)
This gives me my daily clean slate. This helps me to start my day in the right frame of mind.

Isaiah 40:31
But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; They will mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. 

This helps me gain understanding that when I wait on the Lord, and for me, I understand that to mean “serve” Him (like a waitress in a restaurant), that no matter how hard I work to fulfill His “order” I won’t get tired, I won’t get weary, but I will rise up like one of the most revered, majestic birds in the air, an eagle. Regardless of what I have to do to fulfill my calling, His “order”, I will never lose strength. He will forever sustain me for my willing service, and I love that promise. 

 Hebrews 12:1-3                                                       
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, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its
shame, and and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (NIV)

The Finish...

I am determined to have joy, share joy, teach joy, show joy…If I have to run this race called life that I find myself running regularly, I will continue to remind myself of these verses in order to be who I am called to be, gain the lead by striving to not allow my circumstances to dictate my joy and to realize that when I magnify God in my life and minimize all of the other things, that I have no room for the unimportant issues that bring temporary happiness. When I fully understand that God truly is greater than all the highs and lows in my life, then and only then,  can I run this race knowing these things for sure; I will win, I will finish, and I will have joy in doing so because in Christ I have everything I could ever want or need. My joy nor my life can be predicated on my situation. Situations change but our God remains the same. 

Whatever you do, don't stop running!
What brings you joy?
Share your thoughts and let's have a conversation to encourage
someone else.