Pastor's Wife, Mom, Writer & Imperfect Seeker of Jesus
I Can't Make it On My Own
October 22, 2015
3RD IN A 5-PART MARATHON SERIES:
Personally, I really can’t even begin to imagine what it is like physically and emotionally to run a full 26.219 mile marathon. And to be honest, I’m quite content at this moment in my life that God has not asked me to attempt this. But He HAS asked me to run a race. Every day. Every moment. With everything I have. “I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” (Philippians 3:14 NLT)
But let’s be transparent here: Some days are much harder than others to stay in the race.
There are days when I honestly am freely gliding down the course of my life, strong and tall, with the Breath of Life (Genesis 1:30 NIV) flowing through my soul. But there are other days when I’d just like to step under the caution tape at the side of the road and quietly blend in with the spectators. And then there are the times when I feel like the woman who collapsed in front of me that day twelve years ago, just yards away from crossing the New York City Marathon finish line.
She caught my attention as she came into my peripheral view. Her stumbling and the uneven cadence to her steps caused me to turn and look directly at her. She seemed disoriented, almost drunk-like. Her eyes were rolling with no focus to them, and all she knew was to press forward.
But then she dropped. First to a seated position with her feet contorted at a strange angle under her. A couple medics rushed over and attempted to get her to her feet, but it was over. Her body and spirit were spent, and she had nothing left of her own to give.
“Get up, get up!” everything I had inside was screaming.
I felt crushed as the medics gently laid her back on the ground, for she could no longer even sit. Are you kidding? I could taste the finish for her! She was so close! There had to be SOMETHING left in her reserve. But there was no reserve. It had already been used up long before. Her uncompleted race was not due in any part to a lack of desire. She had simply, literally, given everything she had, and yet she still had fallen short of the goal.
Then out of nowhere a beautiful thing happened. Four people dressed in meticulous uniforms silently moved as a unit over to the woman who lay crumpled on the ground. Gently they lifted her up and laid her on a thin gray stretcher. And then with unexpected dignity, they each picked up a corner of the stretcher, and in perfect synchronization marched that broken woman across the finish line to receive her prize.
Oh my heart! How often in my stubborn independence I attempt to run the race and cross the goal under my own strength and power. And all too often I fall crumpled in spirit to the ground. “I am poured out like water, and all my bones are disjointed; my heart is like wax, melting within me. My strength is dried up like baked clay; my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth. You put me into the dust of death." (Psalm 22:14-15 HCSB)
In my agony, I cry out, “Lord, do not be far from me. You are my strength; come quickly to help me.” (Psalm 22:19 NIV) And there in my brokenness I can only look down at the dirt and dust beneath my soul and I find the truth that “all those who go down to the dust will kneel before Him.” (Psalm 22:29b HCSB)
I rediscover that there is no better place to be than at the feet of my Savior, Jesus. Why don’t I go there first? Why in my stubbornness do I insist on doing things myself and then get mad at God when things don’t work out? “When I became embittered and my innermost being was wounded, I was stupid and didn’t understand; I was an unthinking animal toward You. Yet I am always with You; You hold my right hand. You guide me with Your counsel, and afterward You will take me up in glory. Who do I have in heaven but You? And I desire nothing on earth but You.” (Psalm 73:21-25 HCSB)
Praise God that each time I have fallen “He reached down from heaven and took hold of me.” (Psalm 18:16a HCSB) And I know He will continue to do so, even in my stubborn independence.
If you are in that place of brokenness today, if your heart is crumpled and all of your reserves of strength are used up, there at the feet of Jesus look up into His face. He will gently pick you up, and together, you will cross the finish line.