First of, I know, I know; slap my hand. It’s been ages since I wrote. Honestly, school has been a lot and I have been trying to ease the pressure off of myself a bit. The “rule” in my head that I had to write a couple times a week started to weigh on me when added into the assignments for school, so I released myself from that pressure.
Now onto my point.
I went for a run today and it was awful…really awful!!!
I have preface that statement with this one. I LOVE running. I enjoy it immensely. My run time is my second favorite time of the day.
My first favorite time of the day would be after I have worked out and showered when I sit in the bath, get really still and quiet, and just enjoy the Presence of the Lord. It has just been the rhythm I have developed in my life that my quiet time happens in the bath. I get really still or ask the Spirit to help me get my heart really still and just enjoy the love of my heavenly Father. Then I might talk about what is making my heart unsettled, or what I am excited about or maybe even listen to what He wants to expose in me. Like I said, my favorite time of the day. It sets the tone for my day and centers me in Him before the chaos that is my life begins.
My very close second favorite time of the day is my run. That is probably because I know He runs with me too. Not literally, but He is with me. I really love taking off early when it is dark and quiet and somewhat cool. Most of the time it is so dark that I cannot even see the sidewalk I am running on. It occurred to me this morning that even that is a metaphor. I cannot really see the sidewalk, but I have run these routes for many years and I pretty much know what to expect. I trust the sidewalk is there; I trust my feet to carry me and hit the sidewalk. I have only tripped twice in several years I have been running in our neighborhood. Both times I was messing with the music on my phone. It’s kind of a picture of our walk sometimes though. We move forward, trusting that God is leading us in the right direction even though we can’t really see the path or exactly where it leads. We just walk by faith.
I have loved running for a long time, but my runs took on a totally new dimension once I started taking all my advanced Sciences for nursing. I am amazed every morning as I just meditate on all that it takes for my body to be able to run. I am such a super nerd now. Mitochondria make ATP, electrons bouncing in and out of the electron transport chain, sodium rushing into channels to pass on an action potential in my nerves to carry the signal telling my muscles to move and back to my brain to adjust the movement to keep me upright, air into my lungs so oxygen diffuses out of my alveoli into my blood stream, calcium in and out of my cardiac muscle so that my heart beats to pump the blood, dorsal and ventral respiratory groups in my brain controlling my breathing so that I can get enough oxygen in and CO2 out. Man, that stirs my affections for the Lord. I am amazed that He created all of this, designed it to work and keeps it working properly the majority of the time.
Sorry for showing you my nerd cape, but wow, that stuff lights me up. I am so grateful that He lets me learn it all and has made me so passionate about knowing and understanding it that I can remember so much of it. Matt Chandler says find those things that stir your affections, mmmmmm, science, science, science. It makes me worship; takes my breath away; fills me with awe!!!
Back to my original point. I am pretty sure, if my husband was reading this, he would say, “Dude, you just totally Sheldoned us (Big Bang theory, if you are not a fan).”
I have a lot of food sensitivities. In case you haven’t read any of my history, I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, and Chronic Fatigue syndrome about ten years ago. We were able to put all that into remission and change our health and lives, by modifying our diet in a very extreme way (that is too long a story for here). As long as I eat well and stay away from problem foods, I am good. It has taken about ten years of tweaking and eliminating to find the diet that works for me. I am still finding problem foods and tweaking, but I have a pretty established base of safe foods and a list of foods I definitely should avoid. When I eat the bad foods, my joints hurt, I don’t feel well, sometimes my stomach and/or my head hurts. I know when I am being bad because my body tells me about it.
Well, it was not a good week. Most of the week I ate bits of bad. Then the weekend came and I ate more than bits of bad. When I took off this morning to run I could feel it. My legs felt like lead, my foot bones, ankles bones, knees and hips felt like there was grains of sand between them. It was miserable. My pace was slow and my body screamed at me with every step. My chest hurt from the pounding of my heart. The poisonous sludge floating around in me, weighed me down and pressed heavily upon my movements. I decided to keep running for two reasons. The first reason was I could feel this post rattling around inside of me. I could feel God pushing on me that He has something to say through me using this, so I ran through the misery so I could let is swell and grow in me like a seed pushing up through the soil. I wanted to really feel the heaviness and pain, so I could get this message in its fullness.
The other reason I kept running was to emblazon onto my mind and heart the cost of that food. I don’t want to forget the momentary pleasure on my tongue and in my brain is not worth the price I will have to pay later. That cheap, counterfeit pleasure robbed me of a true source of joy- my running.
As I ran, God began to speak to me about sin and holiness. I am not talking about outward morality. I am talking about true holiness. I am talking about single minded devotion to the Lord, being set apart and free of the contaminants of the world. I am speaking of the kind of wholeness and freedom that can only be found in the Lord, that only He can do in our hearts. This is not something that we can ever attain for ourselves or even that we need help from the Lord to attain. We don’t need help; we need Him to do it. We have nothing to offer in the process except surrender (and even surrender is a gift that He gives us).
When we have sin in our lives it robs us of vitality, joy, and communion with our Father and our family, the church of God. It is especially troublesome if we are carrying secret sin in our lives. Just like the affects of my food choices caused my body to feel heavy and to ache, sin in our lives and hearts weighs us down and robs us of vitality. Some of us are running this race weighed down like lead and gripped with pain in our souls because we have traded a cheap momentary pleasure for true joy and holiness in Christ. We have no joy in our walk, we trudge through the day wondering what is the point; is this what we were saved out of the darkness for? There has to be more.
There is more. Stop carrying the sin around. Stop letting it poison you and steal from you. You have inflammation in your soul and it makes running feel like sand it in between your joints. There is sickness in you and the Lord wants to take it away. How do you do that? You say, “I have tried to get it under control. I have decided over and over to let it go, only to crawl back into the pigsty.” I know. I know. I have been there covered in mud, frantically scrubbing, trying to get the grime off. As soon as it seems like all the mud is gone, you find yourself wallowing in the filth again.
Confess and repent. Confess to someone else. You can confess to the Lord all you want, but it has been my experience that He won’t set you free that way. It is not how He designed things. You must confess to someone/someones else. You have to walk in community. It is too big to carry on your own. It is too big for me to carry on my own. I need help. I need prayer. I need people who love me in spite of my sin. I need people I can be transparent with, who will hold me accountable, and who love me enough to confront me when I need it. I need to know that I can be loved just as I am, all of my ugliness, holding nothing back.
It’s funny this week while I was breaking my food guidelines and eating things I knew I shouldn’t, I let my scale lull me into complacency. I would weigh and think, “well it’s not bad; I am within 2 pounds of my normal weight. Minimal fluctuation.” The truth is, no matter what the scales says, eating foods that cause inflammation and sluggishness in my body has a price. The price is pain and feeling less than vital. Allowing the scale not moving to make me feel like my poor choices aren’t so bad is kind like thinking that that sin is okay as long as you go to church and check off the “religious boxes”. The Lord wants so much more fore us. He wants us to be light on our feet, full of joy and energy; He wants nothing short of holiness. Don’t let the “scale” of your activities lull you into complacency. The consequences of choosing sin are still there even if the “scale” looks right.
I don’t know who, besides me, needed to read this, but here it is.
Lord, take it where it needs to go. And thank you for graciously using me in spite of what a giant mess I am.