Last year I got the foggy headed notion that I wanted to run a marathon sometime in the next year or few. It's a good plan, despite the fact that, aside from chasing my kids, I don't really run.
|Not my kid. Photo by Chrisroll|
After deciding that this was something I was interested in, I began doing research on what other successful start-up marathon runners did to accomplish this goal. I found out that they adjusted their diet and schedule, reprioritized their lives and also started to... well, run. After reading many articles, perusing several websites and even going so far as to sign up for weekly emails designed for new runners, I started to get my head around what I would need to do to begin this adventure. I realized that it would involve adjusting my diet and getting up early and running... like... every day.
It's been roughly 8 months since the idea floated through my brain and I've done none of it. Aside from the cute and comfortable pair of shoes I bought, the truth is there is nothing in my life that reflects my goal of becoming a runner. I sit here today, not one step closer to registering for a marathon, half-marathon or any type of competitive long distance run; in fact, I would venture to say that perhaps I'm further. Let's be honest, I'm not getting any younger and the donuts I ate for breakfast on Saturday didn't help anything either.
For the record, running twice a week is still on my agenda for this year (see previous post), but this marathon business may be a 2013 kind of a goal.
At this point, you are probably wondering where I'm going with this. No, I'm not converting this blog into a beginning runner's blog or a food blog that tells you where to get the best donuts in Fresno (which, by the way, is Judy's Donuts). I am, however, going to relate this to a little internal convo I recently had with God. Mind you, my internal conversations end up being ALOT like take-home pop-quizzes (does such a thing exist?). In the midst of praying or contemplating scripture He'll drop a question into my head. It's typically never fun, simple or easy.
"If you (Brina) want to see the power and anointing that was on Paul and Peter and the other apostles in your life, as you suggest you do to both Me and other people, how is that desire reflected in what you spend time doing?" (this is my interpretation of the question)
My first response was, "Well, I work."
"Yeah, so did Paul."
My second response was, "But, I have a brood of children."
"They eventually go to bed and you do have some free time, right?"
My third response was, "Not really, I have laundry to do at night and other stuff. Plus, I read the Bible, pray, go to church and even volunteer, so that's good, right?"
"So, you do laundry and 'other stuff' every night from 8:30pm to midnight?"
"Well, no, but I should."
This is where God goes silent, leaving me space to ponder.
I hate to admit it, but I watch T.V. and movies on weeknights and weekends to "relax, decompress, check out, rest" or whatever word I can think of, when I'm not doing what I should. One night I actually set a reward of T.V. following my time in the Word. Let's just say once I realized that's what I was doing, I didn't watch T.V. that night. I felt horrible. I realized that doing what I want cannot be the carrot to "get through" doing what God wants. Doing what God desires should be its own carrot.
My point is not to condemn relaxing or T.V. or movies or taking long baths, all of those things can be wonderful and just the thing you need at the end of a stressful week or day. My point, and ultimately, I think, God's point, is that if I desire to have the results that Paul and Peter and John saw in the New Testament, then I also have to put forth the same effort and commitment. No, I'm not saying I intend to ditch my family and travel the world, but what I am saying is that if I intend to see what they saw, then there are some things that must become irrelevant in my life, because ultimately they are not just irrelevant to the cause of Christ, but actually take up valuable time.
In sports, in the business world, in the realm of the educated, basically, in every field of occupation, there are levels and playing fields. Those levels and playing fields reflect the commitment, training and skill of the people that operate there. Professional level athletes have put in the time and commitment and have the natural skill that is needed to play at that level. Neither a mediocre talent with great commitment, nor a great talent with mediocre commitment can ultimately operate at the top of their field, in sports or in business.
Why would the same not be said for the Christian life?
Now, I'm not talking about fame or riches, I'm talking about being an effective and anointed force on the earth for Christ. As for talent, I'm not saying we'll all become worship leaders, or preachers, but 1 Corinthians 1:7 is clear that we lack in no spiritual gift and Romans 8:11 says that we are filled with the same spirit that raised Christ Jesus from the dead. What I am saying, however, is that whatever it is that God puts in front of us to do, we absolutely have the God given talent/gifting to do that. So, lack of spiritual gifts can not be an excuse.
Remember, it requires not just the great talent, but also great commitment. It is in the realm of commitment where I tend to fall short. I desire to play ball with the big boys, but my life is reflecting the life of a community league player. Yes, I'm doing more than some, but has it overtaken my life? Has it become my identity?
No, these things will not cause God to love me more than He does now. It's not about being teacher's pet. It's about my desire and expectation to experience the power of God on one level, all the while, not making the necessary adjustments in my life that are equal to what I expect or can justify those results.
Again, no, God is not a gumball machine, where if I do and say just the right things at the right times for the right amount of time, He spits out a miracle or two. I can however expect that as I build up my spiritual muscle's and flexibility; attune my ear to His voice with practice; and step out in faith in the areas He sets before me, then I will certainly see His goodness in the lives of those around me. How better to prove the goodness of God, then to pray that God heal a sick friend and see it manifest?
I'm not suggesting that everyone must want to operate like Paul or Peter or John, but what I am suggesting is, if that is my expectation, then my life should reflect it. Perhaps I don't have as much time for fruitless deeds as I thought. I have to choose, you have to choose, what greatness will we sacrifice for this American dream that hopefully results in 2,080 work hours per year, 40+ hours of vacation time, 2,496 hours of weekend down time and a mix-n-match schedule of varying amounts of holiday time. Employment can be necessary; housework is necessary, but can be negotiated; commitment to family and community should be a necessary joy; sleep is necessary within reason; the rest of it, we each deem as negotiable or necessary based upon its importance in our individual lives. What's important to you? What are you preparing for?