By Cindy Morrone
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)
I went for my early morning run the other day when it was still dark out and f.r.i.g.i.d!!! Yes, winter has come in southern Ontario. We had just received about 8” of snow and although the plows had been out, I still needed to leap over some left over piles. I started to pray, “Lord what is it You want me to post on marriage this week?” Immediately the thought of running one day this summer came to mind.
I replied, “Is that You Lord or my frozen flesh?!”
Then the thoughts endure and stand firm came, as well as, the memory of where we were at in our marriage just last Christmas.
The complete opposite of what I was running in this day; the summer morning was already blistering hot. The sun was just starting to rise but promised to quickly bring more heat. It was humid, so typical of this area and the heat and humidity worked together to warm the synovial fluid of my joints. I was feeling good! About half way through my run, I decided to go further. With water bottle in hand instead of going straight, I turned left to add on some extra distance. I went a little more and just happened to look down and noticed that something just wasn’t quite right. I didn’t slow my pace until I realized that something was certainly wrong. My shorts were inside out! Yes, my black shorts with their white stitching. I self-consciously reached behind to see if there was a tag sticking out and sighed in relief when I didn’t feel one. It was early morning when most commuters were leaving their homes. Not an abundance of traffic but enough for this runner! No, I don’t think anyone truly noticed, but I wasn’t going at such a pace that they couldn’t have seen the error of this trotter!
I was more than half way; would I choose to continue going the longer distance with my running shorts on inside out? Yup, sure did. Embarrassment at its finest!
It wasn’t until I ran back into my home that I realized no, there was no stick out tag but there was a white tag with washing/care instructions printed on the backside! Really?!!
As I reflected on that run I saw a similarity to my life. I needed to make a choice, was I going to continue on my run even though I wasn’t all together? My circumstances didn’t ‘feel’ good at all. Wearing my shorts inside out for the entire world to see was embarrassing and shameful.
And then I remembered our last Christmas…
We were trying to make all things good; we were trying to make the best of it but I remember that gut wrenching pit in my stomach that all things were not good or our best. Our marriage was hurting. It was a season in our marriage with significant losses that enveloped us. We were so lost in our own grief and worries that we were no longer able to hold one another up. To read more about this season see Cindy’s post titled “An Intimate Season.”
And we had a choice to make. Were we going to go the extra distance? Were we going to finish the race? Were we going to continue on even though we weren’t all together and the circumstances didn’t feel good at all? Were we going to remain steadfast in each other and in our God? Were we going to endure?
We chose to run back home, inside out or not! And now, having endured and having crossed over to the other side, we can honestly say it was worth it! No, it was not easy, it was a difficult season, but we were not forsaken or left alone. Quite the opposite really, our relationship with our Lord was never stronger!
I am impressed that someone needs to be encouraged to endure. That no matter the circumstances if you could just ‘stand firm’ in your God and hold on believing that you too would reach the other side. I don’t want to make light of the difficulties with this feeble running story and I know that some circumstances are heart shattering. I just want to encourage you that our God will hold you up as He runs alongside you and helps you to endure and stand firm. Don’t let go of His hand and the hope He offers. He will never fail you.
Especially as this Christmas season approaches the empty can appear enormous so that there is nothing left to be seen. The ideal depicted by so many doesn’t leave room for the imperfect. But my sweet sisters, the tiny babe’s hand in the manger is enough for me and you. A King born to us in such humble surroundings. I believe that there is more offered in the imperfect because the dependence is on Him who promises so much more than ideal circumstances. Hold on, stand firm and endure! And I can’t wait to hear how you made it to the other side with Your Jesus.
Let us proclaim about the Most High as Zechariah did, knowing He came, “to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.” (Luke 1:77-79)
Dear Heavenly and Gracious Lord,
Let our prayer be, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:7 & 8) And let “…us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the crossed, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12: 1-2) Lord, God we know that You are with us and are holding us up and that is enough for us. Thank You our precious precious Lord. Amen.