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.