No, dear brothers and sisters, I am still not all I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven. Phil 3:13-14
This verse conjures up the image of Christ lifting me to my feet, brushing the dirt off my knees and saying to me “keep going”. “I can do anything through Christ who strengthens me”, I think to myself as I take a step towards the prize. I pick up speed, my momentum making it easier to take yet another step, then maybe a little hop and a skip. “I can do this!” I exclaim, “I can keep the faith!” I begin to feel super spiritual, fantastically faithful. “Everyone look, I have got this figured out!”
And it is with that particular leap my legs give out and I am back on the ground.
Over the past few months, I have been asked to either speak, lead or write through a few different opportunities between others’ blogs, bible studies and our church’s women’s ministry. I am being honest when I say each opportunity I pray about before I agree to do it. I do not want to just be a yes person, especially when it comes to any kind of ministry or outreach. If God does not want me to be a part of something, I know well enough to push aside my desire to be included and say no- and I actually have. However, these opportunities gave me a wonderful push to dive into God’s word as I deeply desired to be gospel centered while I shared my heart. I began to feel as though I was skipping along with Jesus, holding his hand while we sang the latest Jeremy Camp song together.
And then my talks were over, small groups and bible studies were on a break for the holidays and I was not feeling the urgency to study God’s word as strongly. My skipping turned into a walk with maybe some bounce in my step. We sold our house and had to start getting ready to move 10 hours away in 6 weeks. I opened my bible and prayed with a feeling of obligation- slowing my walk to a labored pace.
One day it became very apparent I was no longer focusing my energies on being filled with the spirit when I said something pretty ugly about another person in front of my husband, Chris. Bless his heart, he was quick to defend this person without making me feel too badly. But I could not shake the thick, foul dust that covered my heart as the words “hypocrite” and “failure” relentlessly penetrated my mind. My already labored walk was halted as I was brought to my knees with a self-inflected kick in the butt.
Embarrassed and ashamed, I asked for God’s forgiveness and then I asked for Chris’. I was reminded just how ugly my heart truly is without Christ to wipe it clean. And it is through seeking Him and His word daily we are able to resemble anything close to who He is.
I went to His word to soak in what I needed- encouragement, renewal and the comfort of forgiveness. When I turned to Philippians 3, I could almost feel that familiar, steady hand of Christ begin brushing the dirt off of me yet again. Placing His strong arms under mine, lifting me up He said, “keep going”.
I am still not all I should be, dear friends. But, even through tears of shame, I am looking forward to what lies ahead, straining to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven.