So then let's also run the race that is laid out in front of us, since we have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us. Let's throw off any extra baggage, get rid of the sin that trips us up, and fix our eyes on Jesus, faith's pioneer and perfecter. He endured the cross, ignoring the shame, for the sake of the joy that was laid out in front of him, and sat down at the right side of God's throne.
Hebrews 12: 1-2 (Common English Bible translation)
LOVE this scripture! And in my quest to more fully understand the Bible, I enjoy reading different translations of the same text. My handy-dandy app, YouVersion of the Bible (which is free, by the way), allows me to do just that. The translation above is different. I especially like the reference to Jesus as "faith's pioneer and perfecter."
My race hasn't been easy in the past few months. You wanna talk about extra baggage? I've got it. But each and every time I get down, feeling sorry for myself, I look up. I have a great life, two sons that love me unconditionally. We are all healthy. I can stay at home and raise them, due in large part, to the wonderful provider I was married to all those years. We are blessed beyond measure.
At the same time, I am lonely. I miss having someone who can finish my sentences, someone who knows what I am thinking just by looking at my face. Someone who loved me so much that he thought me beautiful, even first thing in the morning with "bed head" and no makeup. Someone who could gently discipline our sons with a deep commanding voice on the rare occasion they needed it. Someone who would handle all of these household-related chores that I've never been responsible for.
When I feel that loneliness, I open my Bible. Once there, I cannot remain lonely for long. My God loves me, He loves my sons. My husband is now in His presence, and I implicitly trust Him for our future needs. Mark is now part of that great cloud of witnesses surrounding us, and I know without a doubt that he's cheering us on.
Whenever I look around, I see brokenness and sadness of some sort in every family. Maybe not as great as what we've experienced, but sad nonetheless. My suffering is nothing compared to what my Savior suffered; He "endured the cross, ignoring the shame for the sake of the JOY that was laid out in front of him." And He did that for ME. I remember during my Walk to Emmaus hearing that Jesus would've gone to the cross, if only for me....that, dear ones, is pretty amazing and hard to wrap my mind around.
Speaking of races, I've signed up for a physical earthly one....the Oklahoma City half marathon. I ran it last year, my first one ever, and it was an experience I will not forget. Running 13.1 miles takes discipline. It takes training and endurance. But most of all, it takes commitment. Mark was so proud of my running and finishing in OKC last year; he encouraged me to go ahead and reserve a hotel room months ago. After his death, I wasn't sure I was up to the training and commitment necessary to do it.
But in late August, I felt the urge to run again. Running has been my release, my time alone with God and nature, and I needed to feel those endorphins coursing through my body once again. So, I laced up a new pair of shoes, walked the block to the trail connector, and ran. Many days, I cried the whole time. Here in recent weeks, I've noticed the tears are fewer and fewer, although they certainly haven't gone away. I don't think they ever will, completely.
For it's in those moments, with just God and me, that I can pray and talk and wish and worry and cry about the "race that is set before me"....and I'm not talking about Oklahoma City.
My physical racing is preparing me for my spiritual race......or is it the other way around? For me, it's not easy to separate the two. They remain intertwined. I need both of them to keep running. Emotionally. Spiritually. Physically. Holistically, I run the race. And I'm not alone. Hallelujah. Amen.