Faith, fear, God's Will, Hardships and Trials, obedience, Uncategorized

Training for Our Heavenly Race

By Jessica Brodie

“…let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV

It was harder than I imagined. There I was on the side of the lake, face beet-red and lungs about to explode, not to mention sweat dripping off every inch of my frame. I’d convinced myself I could jog the length of the dam, only my body was far more accustomed to race-walking and circuit training than a nonstop pounding run.

“How do people do this?” I asked my sister breathlessly.

“You just have to train,” she replied. “Few people can just lace up and run a 5K out of nowhere. You have to build up, little by little.”

I followed her advice. Every day, I’d start by walking, then I’d run—first just a few minutes before shifting back to a fast walk, then increasing my run time. Soon I was doing far more running than walking. By the morning of the 5K, I’d trained enough. I completed the 3.10686 miles out of breath but victorious. I’d persevered! I’d run the race! And now I could celebrate.

In our earthly lives, we know perseverance—resolve, tenacity, determination—pays off, and not just when it comes to running. We persevere in studying hard for our final exams so we can achieve good grades. Through difficulties in our jobs so we can remain employed and advance our careers. Through troubles in our relationships, fighting for a healthy family.

And when it comes to our spiritual lives, perseverance is critical.

When it comes to our spiritual lives, #perseverance is critical. Click To Tweet

When we believe in Jesus and repent of our sins, we receive eternal salvation. But sometimes our faith is sorely tested. We face trials and temptations. We pray for health, only to receive a scary diagnosis. We hope for relief, only to experience the devastation of a hurricane. We love others well, and get rejected. Sometimes it seems easier to give up than keep the faith.

Sometimes our #faith is sorely tested. Sometimes it seems easier to give up than keep the faith. That’s when we need to hold fast and press on. #holdon #jesus Click To Tweet

But Scripture tells us to hold fast and press on. In the Book of Hebrews, the author reminds us that we are to model ourselves after Jesus, the “pioneer and perfecter of faith,” who ran the race with perseverance. “For the joy set before Him (Jesus) endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:2-3 ESV).

Jesus encountered much difficulty during His life on earth, even more than us. He was questioned, mocked, challenged, beaten, tortured, and ultimately hung on a cross by the very people He had hoped to save. But He kept His eyes on God and did God’s will. He persevered because the future goodness outweighed the present suffering. He taught and healed, and He died for us so that we, too, may be saved for eternal life.

#Jesus encountered much #difficulty during His life on earth, even more than us. He was questioned, mocked, challenged, beaten, tortured, and ultimately hung on a #cross by the very people He had hoped to save. But He kept His eyes… Click To Tweet

When we set our sights on God despite opposition, we will follow Jesus and be victorious in our trials. How do we do that? We train ourselves to pray, to focus on God’s Word the Bible, to follow Him, to put Him first, and to love others as we love ourselves.

When we set our sights on God despite #opposition, we will follow #Jesus and be #victorious in our trials. Click To Tweet

Sometimes the race gets hard. Our course might take us uphill over rocky terrain. We might slip or want to give up. But when we cling to our faith and push aside any stumbling blocks, when we keep our eyes on the prize (eternal life in heaven!), our perseverance will pay off.

Our course might take us uphill over rocky terrain. We might slip or want to give up. But when we cling to our #faith and push aside any stumbling blocks, our #perseverance will pay off. #nevergiveup Click To Tweet

What is holding you down? What hardship seems too big to overcome? Little by little, lace up your sneakers by turning your heart toward God and make Him a priority. Build up your muscles and lungs by reading God’s Word. With Jesus, you will persevere and run the race.

Jessica Brodie is an award-winning Christian author, journalist, editor, and writing coach with a faith blog, Shining the Light, at JessicaBrodie.com.

God's Will, Resting in Christ, surrender

The Peace of Purpose over Plans

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A decade ago God planted a dream in my journalist husband to tell the story of poverty, race relations, and athletic success in our home town. The idea simmered and grew from interviews, to newspaper articles, to a complete historical book. The process stretched him and our family to be stronger than we knew and taught me something about who is in charge of our dreams. Want a hint? It’s not us.

We’re a culture of goal makers and dream chasers. We want to make a big mark on society, find success, or increase our “followers”. We act as though it’s our effort alone that will make our dreams come true. So how do we handle it when our goals fall apart or take years to accomplish? Often we feel like failures and get stuck in frustration. 

What unmet goals haunt you? What dreams have yet to come true? What desire have you just plain given up hope on?

I’ve been a writer since third grade. I penned silly stories, songs about boys, and poems in adolescence. It was my go to when I was sad, angry, or bored. I thought I’d be a famous journalist or songwriter one day. That was my plan. But God wanted to use the gift He’d given me in a way I never expected. 

To love others.

Proverbs 19:21 says “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that Text from Prov 19:21 with a background image of the sky and flowerswill stand” (ESV).  

My idea of how to best use God’s gift of writing didn’t match His purpose. I used my talent to seek my glory, but He wanted it for His . And I’m so glad this Scripture is true in my life, that though I have many plans, God’s purpose for me remains immovable. 

But it’s hard to surrender our dreams to someone else. Often I want to know the end will be a success, and I grow impatient when goals aren’t met according to my timeline. But the more I recognize God as the creator and orchestrator of every good desire within me, it’s easier to trust those precious wants to Him. 

My husband’s story was bigger than him and it certainly didn’t occur on his time table. God used him, the talents and abilities woven into his being, for a purpose Dirk couldn’t foresee. The story he scribed validated an entire part of our city, spoke truth and justice over wounds, and connected generations. Because that was God’s purpose from the beginning. 

Whatever good plan you’re working toward or waiting on, remember you aren’t the only one striving for it. It may not always turn out the way you hoped, but God’s purpose for you in it is more complex than you can imagine. As we surrender our plans to God, He can use them to forge His loving purpose forward. Let go of your future and trust Him today.

 

Let’s digest this deeper. What unmet dream is God asking you to surrender to Him and trust that He’s logo for Wholly Loved's Bible reading plangot a grand purpose in store for your life? What makes it hard to give control of your most precious desires to God?

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