Thursday, February 27, 2014

Blast from the past series - 7

"Finish the Race"
Posted 5-24-11

I finished my first official race recently. It was a 5K run/walk… I was walking of course. Running is NOT my thing. It has been a huge goal of mine since January of this year to do this. I wanted to prove to myself and be a testimony to others, that “I can do anything with God’s help.” It may not be a big deal to most, but this was a HUGE accomplishment for ME!

I’ve struggled with an autoimmune disease for the past 6 years. It is a disease that affects my muscles. At it’s worst I had trouble swallowing, talking, walking, lifting things, and seeing. The disease weakens every muscle in my body when it’s not under control. I have struggled with these symptoms and more in variations off and on for the past few years. With medication and lots of prayer, it has been under control for the most part. However just a month and a half ago I was in the hospital for a week because of a “flare up.” Some of my old symptoms decided to come back out of the blue to torture me.

No matter what I struggled with symptom-wise, my eyes were set on FINISHING “the race.” I trained the best that I could. Sometimes exercising can make things worse and sometimes it makes things better depending on the day. I spent several months in preparation for the “big day,” not really knowing if I had in fact prepared enough. My goal was to COMPLETE the race and finish strong!

I felt an overwhelming flood of emotions on race day. I was tired, nervous, excited, anxious, proud, and uneasy all wrapped together. The one thing I wish I would have had with me was a walking buddy. But Jesus was with me. As we walked, He reminded me of how far we had journeyed together so far in this life. There have been a lot of ups and downs for me, but He has always been my constant faithful friend.

The race starting line was jammed full. There were wall to wall people. The place was packed with all different ages decked out in their racing attire. The people pushed in at every side waiting with anticipation to begin. It felt like a corral of wild horses about to be released as we started. When the countdown was completed, it was every man for himself.

As we walked you could hear music along the way… small bands were stationed along the path to encourage us. There were signs posted to show us how far we had gone and how far we had yet to go. The streets were filled with people cheering everyone on and encouraging the tired. They were the military, students, grandmas, police officers, mom’s and dad’s. We even saw some “elderly” street belly dancing. I’m not sure that motivated me… but it did bring a smile to my face.

When I got tired, I stopped for a pit stop… a short break to catch my breath and be refreshed. We were given cups of water and sent on our way. The encouragement increased as we reached the end. I’m not sure why, but knowing I was close to the finish line made me pick up the pace. I think it was the idea that it was almost over that propelled me. I pushed through the pain and meditated on the fact that I was a “walking miracle.” Without God’s help, this wouldn’t be possible!

When I crossed the finish line, such a feeling of relief and pride filled my heart… “I DID IT, with God’s help. We make such a good team!” What a sense of accomplishment to know that I finished the race I set out to and I finished strong. This race reminded me a lot of another race that is talked about in the Bible. It is found in …

Hebrews 12:1-2 (MSG)
“Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we'd better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins.

Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever.

And now he's there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!”

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (MSG)
“You've all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You're after one that's gold eternally.”

“I don't know about you, but I'm running hard for the finish line. I'm giving it everything I've got. No sloppy living for me! I'm staying alert and in top condition. I'm not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself.”

We are all in a race… a race toward heaven.
 Make sure you are headed the right direction and you are on the right path. There are those ahead of you cheering you on and those behind you following your lead. There are signs to show you where you’ve come from and where you have yet to go. People are pushing in all around you as you journey. Be strong. Push through the pain and link arms with Jesus. He knows the way to the finish line. You can do it! Finish the race and finish strong!

Living to leave a legacy!

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