Sunday, November 18, 2007

Runners

Thanks to those of you who left comments/suggestions on my request for Bible study suggestions. I'll let you know as soon as God tells me what study to do!

Sunday morning we had a little extra time before we needed to leave for church. As the girls finished getting their things together and Chad played with the dog, I turned on the t.v. This is rare on Sunday morning, we rarely have it on before church. I hit some strange combination on the remote and wound up watching Leading the Way. I listened to this on our Moody radio station in Chattanooga all the time, but have never found it here, so to SEE this was a treat.

I caught the tale end of the sermon. This was the statement that made my ears perk up. "The Christian life is meant to be lived like a marathon, not a sprint." Pretty cool concept I thought. My wheels began to spin at how to elaborate on that, then it was time to leave for church.

As our Pastor stood to preach. One of his first statements was "The Christian life isn't a sprint, it's a marathon." I about came off my seat and my ears perked up. He took the approach of Remaining Faithful and finishing well. Powerful sermon.

I couldn't help but come home and soak on this concept a little longer. God was reminding me of a lesson learned several years ago.

Chad and I met in church. We were both very involved, faithful, always there. Early in our marriage the pattern of involvement didn't change. We led middle school small groups, I played for our youth choir and directed our middle school ensemble. We were at church more than we were at home it seemed.

You see I've always had this thing about saying "no". I've always felt like if there was a need, especially within the body of Christ, I should step in to help. Regardless of whether it was my gift or not.

We burned out. We were "sprinting" through our Christian life and were quickly "done". We began to visit churches, we didn't fill out visitor cards. We didn't want to be visited! We just wanted to go, sit and soak. We didn't realize how spiritually malnourished we were. I for one had served until there was nothing left to serve.

God placed us in a church, and a Sunday School class with godly teachers, where we were challenged to quit riding the spiritual coat tails of others. It was time to grow up. We could continue to walk in this lukewarm water, and we all know what God says He will do with the lukewarm, or we could grow up and go a little deeper. The choice was ours and ours alone. We chose to go a little deeper, no matter the cost.

We were taught that there were some areas in the body that you should say yes to without question. (taking a turn in the nursery, greeting.....) We were also taught that not everyone was called to teach, to be a deacon or to sing in the choir. Simply saying yes because someone approaches you isn't God's desire. We were given guidance to find the areas where God had gifted us. Serving in those areas brings a sweet satisfaction that doesn't lead to burn out.

So yesterday as I thought about this sprint vs. marathon, here's the conclusion I came to.

Sprinters run short distances. They are fast, but only for a limited amount of time. Their race is over quick. Physically I could sprint, it's the long distances that kill me! Spiritually speaking, I don't want to be a sprinter. I long to be a marathon runner.

Marathon runners are steady. They find their groove and settle in for the long haul. Spiritually, we should all want to be marathon runners. There will be parts of our run that are a little harder maybe even uphill, but spiritual marathon runners keep their eyes fixed on that finish line and don't give up. They push through whatever mental, emotional, spiritual barrier they encounter.

If God has planned our life (race) to be lived (ran) as a marathon but yet we live as a sprinter, how do you think we'll cross the finish line? I would venture to say we'll collapse in exhaustion having missed all the scenery along our race route. I think God was reminding me that He intends for me to be a marathon runner. I want to cross the finish line shouting hallelujah, stopping only in the arms of my Savior. I want to live on this race route seeing all HE planned for me to see, experiencing all the things HE planned for me to experience.

So I'll ask you, how's your run going? Are you tired, exhausted? Do you sprint into church each week grabbing just enough to get you through the next week only to do the sprint again? I know exactly how you feel. I can tell you as a former sprinter, the longer run is so much better. Slow down, you're missing so much. Take some time to get to know our God, you'll be so glad you did.

6 comments:

Fran said...

Oh Steph! That was beautifully written!! I'm gonna print this out for my own future reference but am going to email this to a few that I think will greatly benefit!

I thank you for sharing. I too want to be a marathon runner. Its just like Him isn't it??!! He's so steady and patient and we run like mad people! :)

Blessings friend~
Fran

Jackie said...

such a good word for me today! Thanks for sharing. Have a great THanksgiving week sweet friend!

I'm Tara. said...

What a great way to think about things. I so enjoyed reading this and will definitely think about it for my own spiritual journey -- it's so true. Thanks for sharing with us.

Mr. and Mrs. D said...

Hi Stephanie. I think your post is absolutely correct. You see, I used to be a sprinter--up until about 6 months ago, that is. I was involved in EVERYTHING at church. If there was a need and no one stepped forward, I felt like I needed to do it. The same was true at the christian school where I taught. I kept on taking on more and more things, until it was actually ridiculous when I thought about it.

Then, the love of my life proposed to me. We married and I moved VERY far from home. I felt like God was giving me a second chance to run the race the RIGHT way. I told our pastor upon our first meeting that I would be taking a year to decide what God would have me to as a ministry. I needed a year to acclimate to being a new wife, step-mom, teacher in a new school, and to living with Yankees! :D

The pastor wholeheartedly agreed with my choice to sit back and wait and pray to see what GOD would have me do. I have already begun to hear from Him about a certain area of ministry that I am just WILD about, and it is a ministry that is lacking a team leader at the moment. My first impulse is to jump right in and say "Me! Me! I'll do it!" But I know that I need to wait a bit more...

I am learning to "Be still and know." It isn't easy, but I think it will be worth it in the end.

Thanks for the reminder to stick my guns in regards to running a marathon and not a sprint!

BethAnne said...

I needed to hear this right now. I cannot say no and it has caused major burn out at times. Sometimes I think in churches we think of ourselves as celebrities instead of servants. We see ourselves as indespensable when we really need to view ourselves in a much more humble way. Amen to everything you said!

jodi said...

Our Pastor is a runner and he is forever giving analogies like this one on running "the" race. This was a great reminder! Thank you!