Tag Archives: run your race

1 Kings 11; Philippians 2; Ezekiel 41; Psalms 92, 93

I visited my sister when I was in college. Her husband was military, and they lived on base. She had a neighbor named Renee, and while I was there, Renee would pop over in the mornings, walk right through the kitchen door, pour herself a mug of coffee, and chat with my sister and me at the table. This image took root and life in my mind–and I have been looking for my own Renee ever since.

One day, my sister’s Renee was gone. It’s not just specific to military life–nearly every life is transient. A move. A job change. A church change. A school change. A season may be beautiful, fruitful and sweet, but that in itself won’t make it last forever. Illness, crisis, attitude and interest are all elements that can affect another’s ability to be present. (My mother died from breast cancer, and when my friend Doris was diagnosed, I didn’t know what to say to her–and I was regrettably disappointed in myself because I thought that I should know.)

When I glanced the scriptures earlier this week, thoughts of loyalty, strength and endurance came to mind. But when I read more closely, I also see disappointment, limitations, distractions and weakness.

Solomon, a wise man, a king, was not exempt.

The Lord had clearly instructed the people of Israel, “You must not marry them, because they will turn your hearts to their gods.” Yet Solomon insisted on loving them anyway. He had 700 wives of royal birth and 300 concubines. And in fact, they did turn his heart away from the Lord. (1 Kings 11:2-3, NLT)

Paul served the Lord wholeheartedly, but not everyone on the mission field shared his vision.

20 I have no one else like Timothy, who genuinely cares about your welfare. 21 All the others care only for themselves and not for what matters to Jesus Christ. (Philippians 2:20-21, NLT)

Lord, you are gentle and kind. You know my heart. You lovingly unfurl my fingers from the grip I have on the way I think things should be, and you show me grace. You show me humility. You are my forever friend. You will never forsake me. You are eager to meet me when I seek you. You sit with me at this table today, and together we can examine what really matters.

12 Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. 13 For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. 14 Do everything without complaining and arguing, 15 so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. 16 Hold firmly to the word of life; then, on the day of Christ’s return, I will be proud that I did not run the race in vain and that my work was not useless. (Philippians 2:12-16, NLT)

Help me to mature in the woman you want me to be.

Your reign, O Lord, is holy forever and ever. (Psalm 93:5b, NLT)

Courtney (66books365)

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2 Samuel 13; 2 Corinthians 6; Ezekiel 20; Psalms 66, 67

I recently ran seven miles nonstop. This was a really big deal for me because I’m preparing to run a half-marathon next year, and there’s a part of me that feels intimidated by the distance. I was truly surprised at how good I felt when I finished the mileage. I was surprised I did it. When I was in my twenties, I was very athletic. When I was in my forties, I was very not athletic. In fact, I was unhealthy, overweight, stressed and grieving.

This week when I set out on my long run, I did seven miles again, shaving nearly a minute of my per-mile pace. I was so very thankful to God for all of it. I remember thinking, “I forgot I was an athlete.” And I felt like God reminded me: you forgot a lot of things.

In Louie Giglio’s book Not Forsaken, I nearly choked at this sentence: “You are no longer a slave to the abuse or addictions of your parents or to the grave where your father is buried.” (198) I sat in awe–Lord, I forgot I am no longer a slave. And He filled in the blanks of other things I forgot–that I am capable and equipped for the tasks He has prepared for me; I am given my own skill set to bring Him glory; I am loved, valued and chosen; I am His daughter.

Today, when I read Paul’s words, he sets my focus straight. My heart and thoughts sometimes get caught in a tug-of-war among the media, my own issues, other opinions, and what is right.

As God’s partners, we beg you not to accept this marvelous gift of God’s kindness and then ignore it. For God says,

“At just the right time, I heard you.
    On the day of salvation, I helped you.”

Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation.

We live in such a way that no one will stumble because of us, and no one will find fault with our ministry. In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind. We have been beaten, been put in prison, faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion, endured sleepless nights, and gone without food. We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us, and by our sincere love. We faithfully preach the truth. God’s power is working in us. We use the weapons of righteousness in the right hand for attack and the left hand for defense. We serve God whether people honor us or despise us, whether they slander us or praise us. We are honest, but they call us impostors. We are ignored, even though we are well known. We live close to death, but we are still alive. We have been beaten, but we have not been killed. 10 Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything.

11 Oh, dear Corinthian friends! We have spoken honestly with you, and our hearts are open to you. 12 There is no lack of love on our part, but you have withheld your love from us. 13 I am asking you to respond as if you were my own children. Open your hearts to us!

14 Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness? 15 What harmony can there be between Christ and the devil? How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever? 16 And what union can there be between God’s temple and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. (2 Corinthians 6:1-16, NLT, emphasis added)

Lord, I need You and Your Word every day. I forget. I forget when I’m distracted or worried or stressed. I forget when I am overwhelmed. I forget when I am angry. But You and Your Word are never far, and always ready to guide the way. Thank you for reminding me, for giving me freedom, for showing me the way, for saving me.

Courtney (66books365)

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1 Samuel 19; 1 Corinthians 1; Lamentations 4; Psalm 35

When I read these scriptures, there are issues then that still happen today, and I mourn.

I mourn Saul who was given title and responsibility, but whose heart was choked by jealousy, insecurity, anger, pride. God, give me kingdom vision to elevate others and work in unison. I delight in your work, and I value and encourage others. Guard my heart against comparison and resentment.

The next morning Jonathan spoke with his father about David, saying many good things about him. “The king must not sin against his servant David,” Jonathan said. “He’s never done anything to harm you. He has always helped you in any way he could. Have you forgotten about the time he risked his life to kill the Philistine giant and how the Lord brought a great victory to all Israel as a result? You were certainly happy about it then. Why should you murder an innocent man like David? There is no reason for it at all!” (1 Samuel 19:4-5, NLT)

I mourn David who was serving, talented, strong, chosen–and hated for it all. God, an enemy whispers, guilts, shames me to be ineffective, small, afraid. Help me live life freely for your glory, to be who you’ve called me to be, even when faced by a foe who wants to shut me up and take me down.

O Lord, oppose those who oppose me.
    Fight those who fight against me.
Put on your armor, and take up your shield.
    Prepare for battle, and come to my aid.
Lift up your spear and javelin
    against those who pursue me.
Let me hear you say,
    “I will give you victory!”
Bring shame and disgrace on those trying to kill me;
    turn them back and humiliate those who want to harm me.
Blow them away like chaff in the wind—
    a wind sent by the angel of the Lord.
Make their path dark and slippery,
    with the angel of the Lord pursuing them.
I did them no wrong, but they laid a trap for me.
    I did them no wrong, but they dug a pit to catch me.
So let sudden ruin come upon them!
    Let them be caught in the trap they set for me!
    Let them be destroyed in the pit they dug for me. (Psalm 35:1-8, NLT)

I mourn the before-and-after contrast in Lamentations. When the life one knows is stripped away–who do we become when pressures weight? Lord, when the life I knew is suddenly changed, help me to mature and grow in the season. Challenges show me who I am at heart, and who you are always. May I always seek you.

Our princes once glowed with health—
    brighter than snow, whiter than milk.
Their faces were as ruddy as rubies,
    their appearance like fine jewels.

But now their faces are blacker than soot.
    No one recognizes them in the streets.
Their skin sticks to their bones;
    it is as dry and hard as wood. (Lamentations 4:7-8, NLT)

I mourn the splintering of community. Oh, Lord, help me to see beyond the temporary to keep my eyes on the eternal. I bring the narrative to you–show me what is true and right. Divisions are diversions on the path–help me to stay the course, eyes on you.

10 I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose. 11 For some members of Chloe’s household have told me about your quarrels, my dear brothers and sisters. (1 Corinthians 1:10-11, NLT)

Courtney (66books365)

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Numbers 30; Psalm 74; Isaiah 22; 2 Peter 3

Sometimes I try not to look too far ahead because the course can seem so long. I can feel discouraged at how far I have to go. I can also procrastinate thinking there’s time enough. Perspective influences.

A group I’m part of shares this perspective, “Run the mile you’re in.” There have been many runs where I self-negotiate before I even establish my pace, as if the finish line is adjustable. But some finish lines aren’t well defined.

When will this conflict be resolved? When will I be healed from this trauma? When will things get back to normal? When will I get my thoughts together? When will I get these things completed? When will I reach my goal? When will I die? When will the Lord return?

My husband got me a watch that tracks my mileage and course. Instead of being hyperfocused on the finish line, I can bliss out where I am, losing myself to the rhythm of the cadence and the sound of my breathing. My watch gives me a zap at every mile marker, and all I have to do is glance to see where I am. I run the mile I’m in, fully present. But for situations without a (known) fixed finish, these words give me the perspective to reset in The Wait.

But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. 10 But the day of the Lord will come as unexpectedly as a thief. Then the heavens will pass away with a terrible noise, and the very elements themselves will disappear in fire, and the earth and everything on it will be found to deserve judgment.

11 Since everything around us is going to be destroyed like this, what holy and godly lives you should live, 12 looking forward to the day of God and hurrying it along. On that day, he will set the heavens on fire, and the elements will melt away in the flames. 13 But we are looking forward to the new heavens and new earth he has promised, a world filled with God’s righteousness.

14 And so, dear friends, while you are waiting for these things to happen, make every effort to be found living peaceful lives that are pure and blameless in his sight. (2 Peter 3:8-14, NLT, emphasis added)

When I don’t know where I am in the journey through The Wait (of resolution, healing, achievement, my life, the Lord’s return), I am reminded and encouraged. I can take action–to make every effort. I have a vision–a peaceful life that is pure and blameless in my Lord’s sight.

Lord, help me in the wait to keep your perspective–to make every effort to be found living a peaceful life that is pure and blameless in your sight. Help me to run the mile I’m in. Help me to run well. The finish line will come.

Courtney (66books365)

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Exodus 30; John 9; Proverbs 6; Galatians 5

I read of the ransom in Exodus. Every man was required at census to pay a ransom to purify his life and to make himself right with the Lord. It didn’t matter if he was a rich man or a poor man. There was a cost each one paid.

14 All who have reached their twentieth birthday must give this sacred offering to the Lord. 15 When this offering is given to the Lord to purify your lives, making you right with him, the rich must not give more than the specified amount, and the poor must not give less. 16 Receive this ransom money from the Israelites, and use it for the care of the Tabernacle. It will bring the Israelites to the Lord’s attention, and it will purify your lives.” (Exodus 30:14-16, NLT)

Because of Christ, my ransom has been paid. The penalty of sin is death, and he suffered that death for my sins. Oh, he has brought me to the Father’s attention, and the indwelling Holy Spirit will purify my life. This is Christ’s love.

24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. 25 Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. 26 Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another. (Galatians 5:24-26, NLT)

The blind man from birth did not know that his whole life would change when he met Jesus, that the years leading to that point served a purpose, and that in one moment, he would be the subject of change that would glorify God (to this very day).

“It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him. We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent us. The night is coming, and then no one can work. But while I am here in the world, I am the light of the world.” (John 9:3-5, NLT)

People who had known him as a blind beggar weren’t even sure he was the same person. (His neighbors and others who knew him as a blind beggar asked each other, “Isn’t this the man who used to sit and beg?” Some said he was, and others said, “No, he just looks like him!” John 9:8-9, NLT.) And others still, whose hearts were hard and unteachable, refused to acknowledge the truth.

39 Then Jesus told him, “I entered this world to render judgment—to give sight to the blind and to show those who think they see that they are blind.”

40 Some Pharisees who were standing nearby heard him and asked, “Are you saying we’re blind?”

41 “If you were blind, you wouldn’t be guilty,” Jesus replied. “But you remain guilty because you claim you can see.” (John 9:39-41, NLT)

Every morning when I run, I keep my eyes on the road in front of me to watch for rocks and branches that could trip me up. So much more, now, Lord, I watch the path.

But we who live by the Spirit eagerly wait to receive by faith the righteousness God has promised to us. For when we place our faith in Christ Jesus, there is no benefit in being circumcised or being uncircumcised. What is important is faith expressing itself in love.

You were running the race so well. Who has held you back from following the truth? It certainly isn’t God, for he is the one who called you to freedom. This false teaching is like a little yeast that spreads through the whole batch of dough! 10 I am trusting the Lord to keep you from believing false teachings. God will judge that person, whoever he is, who has been confusing you. (Galatians 5:5-10, NLT)

Lord, help me to take inventory of my heart. Help me to live by the power of your Spirit. When troubles come, they reveal where I’ve put my faith, what I’ve prioritized. You have called me to freedom. Let me walk in it.

Courtney (66books365)

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