I ran 20 miles on Saturday morning. I actually started writing this shortly after finishing, but wasn’t physically able to string words together in a coherent manner until now. I don’t tell you this fact to brag (okay, maybe it’s a bit of a “humblebrag,” and if so then please forgive me, BUT 20 MILES IS A LONG WAY PEOPLE!). There are a couple of reasons why I want to tell you about my first 20-miler. First, because I know I’ve been a bit quiet on my blog lately, and I want you to know why. It isn’t that I don’t love all of you with all my heart, because I do. Really, it is because it takes a LOT of time to get to the place where you are able to run 20 miles (not to mention the fact that I am tired A LOT). This has taken me a great deal of time, discipline, and the ability to engage in the practice of the “holy no” meaning the ability to say no to things, and prioritize according to what God calls me to do, not what I get in my mind I “should” do.
This brings me to the second reason why I want to share this with you today – because I want to brag on our God. Some of you may know the part that running played in my life when God called me into pastoral ministry. If you don’t, I’ll give the Readers Digest version (we seem to be doing that a great deal lately, huh?). He called me to obedience before he called me to ministry. I had never been athletic (no really, NEVER) and in the middle of a Borders bookstore God spoke audibly to me and told me to, “Just run.” I had no idea what that meant, but I did. At first I ran when I could, painfully slow (and just plain painfully), and then walked at times. Eventually, I could run steadily for 10 minutes. After a while, I made it to 2 miles. Then 2 miles became 4, and 4 became 6, and so on. I eventually made my way to my first half-marathon (that’s 13.1 miles). And God revealed during that time, that this calling to run wasn’t just some whim or distraction. Rather, during those many hours alone on the road, during cold winter mornings, just me and Him, he was building me up, breaking down barriers that had held me back all my life and speaking into me. He was preparing me for what I was purposed for all along and one day out on the road, He clearly revealed that calling to me. It was amazing, and again I was obedient.
There were times when that obedience cost us much. And then life got hard. By that I don’t mean I got tired and busy and just didn’t have the energy to make the effort to run anymore. That happened too, but I mean LIFE GOT HARD. Our family went through traumatic and difficult times that Jon and I could never have anticipated, and that we are still not fully ready to talk about publicly. Nevertheless, just as we’ve talked about during this God’s Big Plan sermon series, God has always been faithful. He always does what He says He will do. And I have confidence that God’s promise in Philippians 1:5-6 is true for you, and for me, “because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
How is God calling you to partner with His Gospel today? It may not be to lead a nation out of slavery like Moses, or to give up everything you know to show fierce, unswerving loyalty like Ruth. It may not be to run a marathon, or even a half-marathon, or to pastoral ministry, but He is calling you to something. Take some time and find out what that is, and be gentle with yourself. Growth is a process, and it is slow, and sometimes painful…but it is good.