Friday, November 4, 2011

The Race THAT IS set before us...

We completed another half-marathon about 3 weeks ago! It was Robert's second and my third.  He had to miss last year's because of foot and knee injuries, but thankfully, he has recovered almost completely, and was able to run again this year.  It was definitely an answered prayer, and we were so grateful, as it is something we have really enjoyed doing together in recent years.
Last year, my friend Jess, ran in Robert's place.  As we ran, Jess asked me how I was doing.  She knew that I had been through sort of a dark time of despair and weariness. I shared with her how the Lord had been using Hebrews 12: 1-3 to encourage me.  That was almost exactly one year ago.  Well, this year is no different in that those verses are still teaching and encouraging me.

I think I mentioned a while back that I have been participating in Beth Moore's Scripture Memory Challenge this year.  For it, you are required to memorize two verses per month and post them on her blog on the 1st and 15th.  Completion of the challenge allows you to go to a conference in January (in Houston, TX) just for those who participated ~ for free!  I'm already registered, and can hardly wait.  My friend Karla is even coming down to Texas from Massachusetts to go with me!  (Since I will be there for our sabbatical already.)
The verses I decided to memorize are Hebrews 11: 24 - Hebrews 12:3  and Psalm 71: 5-6 & 17-19.  As our half-marathon approached, the verses I was memorizing were Hebrews 12: 1-3...

"Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race THAT IS set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."
A few days before the race, it had struck me that the words were not "the race set before us," (which I had always thought) but rather "the race THAT IS set before us."  I'm sure it doesn't sound like that big of a difference to you, and it probably has no "hermeneutical" bearing on the meaning, but to me it sounded more personal.  When I noticed the 
"THAT IS" as I was memorizing, it seemed like a more intentional setting of the race.  It sounded as if the race that was set before me was purposefully individual, and as if Jesus had specifically set THIS race before ME.  More like a calling; less like a cookie cutter.
Of course, Christians are all on "the race" of life and faith, being sanctified as we go.  It's just that the "THAT IS" helped me to understand that my sanctification is meant to come through the race that Christ has chosen for me, because to be honest, I'm not always thrilled with the race that He has set before me.  Sometimes, I wish I had someone else's race.  The "THAT IS" revelation helped me embrace my own.

Running a half-marathon together just always seems a great reminder and re-enactment of this race of life and faith "THAT IS" set before us. There is usually an eager start, and a victorious finish. There are many good miles, and then there may be some painful, agonizing ones.  There is a crowd (or a cloud!) of those who have already finished the race cheering you on, and even those who are non-running spectators will smile and cheer at your passing by.  
There were protesters along our route this year, too.

The "joy set before me" at the Hartford half-marathon was a big lunch at P.F. Chang's, a hot bubble bath, and a bowl of frozen yogurt with dark chocolate and raspberries on top!

I'm learning to be thankful for and surrender to the race that has been purposefully set before me as an avenue of sanctification.  It amazes me that the Lord knows me this intimately and arranges for a specific path that will be according to my personal need and to His ultimate glory.

It reminds me of a couple of scenes from my favorite book, Stepping Heavenward ~ especially one in which Katy is having a conversation (or possibly receiving a gentle rebuke!) about sanctification with one of her husband's older, godly patients:

"But if God chooses quite another lot for you, you may be sure that He sees that you need something totally different from what you want. You said just now that you would gladly go through any trial in order to attain a personal love for Christ that should become the ruling principle of your life.  Now, as soon as God sees this desire in you, is He not King, is He not wise in appointing such trials as He knows will lead to this end?"

and another in which she (an older, wiser Katy) is talking about submission to Christ with her sister-in-law:

"...but to receive every tiresome visitor as sent expressly and directly 
to weary me by the Master Himself; 
to meet every negligence on the part of the servants as His choice for me at the moment; to be satisfied and patient when Ernest gets particularly absorbed in his books, because my Father sees that little discipline suitable for me at the time; all this I have not fully learned."

I have not fully learned this immediate submission to His chosen circumstances for me either, but I take heart in the truth that they were set before me by my Lord and lovingly intended to grow our relationship in intimacy.

P.S.  We beat our best times by about 10 minutes this year!


Anonymous said...

Psalm 71 is lovely. I particularly have found comfort in verses 20-21. Congratulations on completing this race with joy...that has been set personally before you. Love, K&J

Cinnamon said...

I love seeing all your running photos. So neat to see the family running in one way or another, even if it's a love/hate thing for some:-)
hee hee