March 15: Running the Race

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. – Hebrews 12:1

Once upon a long time ago I found myself on Virginia Beach. It was a pretty big day – at least all the people who were familiar with that beach kept being pleased about it, and the waves were not tiny. I had not spent much time in the ocean, growing up in Idaho and all. Most of the ocean that is reasonably accessible to us here is freezing cold. So while I had seen it, I had not ever really gone in all the way for a swim. So this experience was a new one. And the ocean was totally unreasonable. The waves were big enough that they would just pick you up and chuck you over somewhere else, and while I know how to swim, this didn’t seem to be much about swimming. So as I would try to get out, a wave would hit me from behind, and throw me down into the sand, filling my suit with sand. So naturally I would try to get the sand out in the water again and then make a run for the beach again. Same thing. It was funny and wild and exhausting all at the same time. Eventually I made it out – I think by giving up on the sand-free suit idea.

Now the reason I bring this up is that it was brought to mind recently by the situation in my house. I told my husband that I feel like I am spending a lot of time in that terrible part where you are running so slowly because of the water you are running through, and the big waves just keep coming from behind me – preparing another cosmic joke at my expense every 20 seconds or so. What had occurred to me suddenly was that I was trying so hard to get up on the beach. I feel like my life is supposed to be walking on the beach. In sight of the glorious waves of course, but out of the way, and certainly not with a swimming suit that is stretching to accommodate sand.

But I think the reality is that God has called me to a life in the water right now. He wants me to be survival swimming, alternating with some dead man’s float. He has called me to the water. When I am having a hard time in my life, so much of the burden is caused by me trying to get myself out of the water and onto the beach. It’s not easy in the water, and it’s not easy on the beach, but it is terrible in the 15 yards that bridge the two. I’m not gonna get out of this water – and I shouldn’t want to. That is part of contentment. This is the race that God has laid out for me. It is a race of endurance and patience. A race of snotty noses and interrupted sleep, discipline and meal making. Nursing and kissing pinched fingers. Laughing and not getting the house together. This race has different difficulties.

But the difficulties of my race are not the same as the difficulties of trying to switch races. In my life, embracing the reality of my work is simply part of contentment and obedience. My race involves at least one major milk spill a day. My race involves accidently going three days without stepping out of the house. My race involves a certain level of brain strain that comes from baby loving and nursing and talking to little people all day. My race involves the many layers of diet, exercise, and time.

But I know that I am fighting what God has laid out for me when I am tempted to think of other situations. When I am thinking that if only I could get these people to not get in the way of what I need to do. When I am thinking that I ought to be able to run out to the gym during the day without difficulty. When I think that something is wrong with a life that generates as much mud on the floor, clothes in the enormous hamper, or tired in the evening. When I start thinking that what I am supposed to be achieving is a moment in time. A moment of escape. A clean house that stays that way. The size I want to be. The amount I want to be reading. The way I want my children to be.

But this is a race. And it is a long one and it is a hard one. It is the kind of race that has moments where your legs are numb and you think you can’t do it anymore. It has moments of second winds, where everything seems possible. When we embrace what God has called us to do, we are looking to Him. And when we look to Him, we can rest. Because He is the one who laid it out for us. He is the one who made us for it. And He is the one who has showed us where to look. Fix your eyes on Him. Be content with what He is asking of you. Set your heart on Him, your hope in Him, because you can trust in Him.He is the author, but also the finisher of our faith.

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14 thoughts on “March 15: Running the Race

  1. Hebrews 12: 2 is the Fighter verse that I’m memorizing right now. I am a little past your stage of life as my youngest is 8. But I have been diagnosed with an auto-immune disease which has been frustrating because it limits me so much due to fatigue. I am learning to be content with where He has placed me. Thanks so much for your exhortations! I love your blog:)

  2. Yes, contentment,content to do the things that noone even notices need doing. The everyday repetitive chores that never seem to be finished for long.Fighting the fatigue that comes with all the different stages of a woman’s life, not to mention all the unexpected, like an autoimmune disease that our dear sister mentions or the diagnosis of Lyme’s disease of my sweet friend and mother of six.Or any # of illnesses that can beset us.Yes-“looking unto Jesus” and not at “other situations.” This is our assignment!
    Thanks Rachel for bearing the Standard, and holding it high for all of us to follow.

  3. Rachel- how I love every time you write!! I told my husband that I feel like my brain seems to think in the same sense of humor as yours and that you speak eloquently about the things I’m thinking about but in a not so eloquent manner! I feel like you said SO succinctly what I JUST finished writing about tonight- although it took me way more words and prob way more time too! And you are one of the only people that consistently encourages and I thank you for that!!

  4. Thanks Rachel, now I understand my past few weeks…..I have been fighting so hard to get out of the water thinking that was a good thing…..but really the good thing may be staying in with a good and cheerful attitude. The things that I want on the beech seem so very basic and nessasary, a washer and dryer, dishwasher, yard for the kids to play in, etc that I really have let myself feel a bit like a martyr lately. I have even felt myself thinking I “deserve” a better situation in life, after all I’m actively laying down my life pregnant with number five, right? That kind of sacrifice should be rewarded with some creature comforts, right?

    But I have been cringing at my attitude at the same time to, I know I don’t deserve any good thing and the fact is I have so many good gifts in my life…….your analogy helped me put my situation in perspective. Swimming in the waves is hard work, no doubt about it. But it is a heck of a lot easier then fighting to get to an elusive shore.

    Anyway, thanks! If I lived near you I’d invite you and your little crew over for peanut butter sandwiches and a chat over coffee today….Even in the midst of messes I know we could find a lot of common ground to enjoy.

  5. Thank you for this! I especially liked the bit about “accidentally forgot to leave the house for three days.” It seems I have either not left the house except to go outside since I have to empty the garbage (if that) or out of the house everyday for a week straight and desperate not to go outside. I’m sure writing these daily devo’s add to the size of those waves – but I am so thankful you make the time. It’s a great encouragement, and when I see there hasn’t been a post in a few days, I send up a little prayer that the Lord encourage and strengthen you all. Thanks so much!

  6. Thanks for sharing your heart. Can totally relate. Fixing our eyes on Jesus changes this race called life. Beautifully written.

  7. You are speaking my language alright!! I know that save tossed feeling well and that is truly a great way to describe life with little people. Pregnancy exhaustion, mud in my hallway, and a monster laundry generating machine.
    My strategy now is to try to laugh at the situations. Find the funny side of it and like you said once, realising those truly killer moments of chaotic waves will most likely ease up or be gone in 20 minutes. That perspective has eased many a moment for me. So thank you!

  8. I can definitely relate these days! At 6 months pregnant with number 3, I’m doing more dead man’s float than swimming these days :) I’m always grateful for your encouragement, whether through one of your books or through these posts.

  9. The Lord uses your words time and time again to remind me of the point of this life we are living. Thank you for the way that you encourage other moms of littles to be ok to stay in the water. The beach looks good when you’re getting beat down by the waves but when you’re on the beach the water is always calling you back for more.

  10. Thank you, Rachel. Your article is a wonderful reminder to me to enter the “races” in my life with an excellent spirit. Having the right attitude, even when we don’t understand the reason why we are faced with the challenges we encounter assures us that God will be glorified as we go through. I am a relatively new mother. My husband and I have an adorable 7 1/2 month old baby girl. I am 41 years and use to keeping a tidy house and just having order around me so balancing a career, being a wife and mother, and fulfilling my commitment to my church responsibilities tend to take its toll. Your article has allowed me to see that my race has changed. There is another leg to it now. A leg that I need to be content with even as I adjust the strides necessary to complete each yard, and eventually cross the finish line. Again, God bless you and your family for reaching out to wives and mothers like me who become so overwhelmed at times, that we begin to second guess our decisions about marriage and motherhood. Thank for reminding us that the key to finishing our race is having our our eyes on Jesus. He helps us to focus on the prize, what will be gained. It’s not how fast we run our race. It is important to just stay in it with the right attitude. Thank you again. I give God glory and honor for you today. For I believe these articles by you are truly an answer to my prayers!

  11. I needed this today. I just found out that my unborn daughter has a serious heart defect and a 50% chance of Down’s or other chromosomal defect. As I am reeling from this news, it is good to be reminded that I don’t need to go anywhere or get anywhere. I can stay in the waves and pray that God will make me fruitful from here. Thank you.

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