I've been camped out in the Peters and Johns for my Bible reading lately. Unlike Paul, those guys were not into long letter writing. It cracks me up that John says, in essence, "I'd rather tell you this in person and not waste the paper and ink!" So I've kind of just been reading and re-reading these short letters to let them sink in a little. A few days ago, 2 John 1:9 stuck out, "Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son."
The rusty wheels in my brain were turning. How many times have I tried to run ahead of God? I think I know what the next step is in life, and I run with it! Forgetting the Bible's teaching, I plow ahead of my own accord, taking on too much, and trying to make everything happen in my own power, leaving a wake of destruction behind that includes a lot of ugliness towards those I'm supposed to love the most! My life becomes an unmanageable sprint and soon I wear out and am forced to take a breather. It's at these points I remember to wait for God, who calmly strolls up and takes my hand. And then, we walk together until I get the notion that I need to run ahead again.
I don't think I'm alone in this, either. I see many Christians running around stressed out at all the tasks they must "do for God!" And certainly there are seasons where we just have more on our plates than others...but if we are continually busy, busy, busy...hmmm. Something has to give. And I think the thing that gets left behind is usually love. Consider 2 John 1:6: "And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love." Loving God takes intentional time spent with Him. It takes time to learn his commands and probably a lot more time to obey them and learn how to filter out the unnecessary things that have crept into our lives. Loving people takes time. You cannot sprint through life and expect to love well. And you can't refuse to move either...you must learn to walk.
So...are there any times when God asks us to run with him? Yes, I think so. And those are awesome times. One of my favorite verses, Isaiah 40:31, says...but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. The only way we can be strong enough to run (Soar, even!) is to have discipline and do it with God, not by running ahead without him. The fastest marathon runners in the world didn't wake up one day, sign up for a race, and run sub-five minute miles for 26 plus miles! They worked incredibly hard to be able to run that fast for that long. And they STILL need periods of rest between runs. So we shouldn't be surprised that we go through seasons where our walk slows to a crawl, seasons of walking, and some seasons where God prepares us to run and soar. And when we stay close with him, he will give us wisdom to know when to slow down and when to speed up. Only God can soar 24/7, but he chose to send a Son who was human and had to rest like us. He also gives us the Holy Spirit that slows down to walk with us when we invite him to do so.
I feel like I'm living this out in my spiritual AND physical life lately. If you look back a few years in this blog, I got back into running about a year after my third baby was born. I have a hard time not hibernating during winter (Who doesn't?), but during the warmer months, I was pretty consistent in at least getting out to jog until this whole chronic illness thing. After a year and a half, I have yet to get back to running. On my better days, I do some extra walking with the doggie or kids, but my body just can't run yet. Hopefully I will keep feeling pretty good and build up some strength and endurance and be back chugging along at my turtle pace soon. But my goal of doing a half marathon before I'm 40 may have to wait awhile....seasons, seasons. But I CAN walk. Physically. Spiritually. I will walk.
Stress, worry, and exhaustion are not of God. In Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus quotes Isaiah and says,“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” I don't want to be the woman trying to sprint through life with heavy burdens, breaking down time and again. I want to be the one walking with Jesus every single step with love, gentleness, humility, and a rested soul. So...let's start walking.
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