Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Running The Race I Am Given

Last week I had the opportunity to hear Matt Chandler speak in Southern Seminary’s chapel. I have listened to his church’s podcasts, but had yet to hear him live. I was excited at the chance. He preached from Hebrews 11 and applied “running the race set before us” in a way that I don’t remember hearing before. God knew I needed it. It got right to my heart.

He said that the race we are running is exactly what God has for us. And he connected it to the previous verses, where the writer of Hebrews describes the different paths these great cloud of witnesses walked. But each path was God ordained—whether it was shutting the mouth of lions or being sawn in two. He urged us to stop trying to be something we are not, and be who God made us to be. He challenged us to not do ministry for our own glory and gain, but for the glory of our Christ. Dissatisfaction with our race—our path—is idolatrous.

It is a daily struggle to not compare my race with others. It is a daily struggle to be satisfied with the road that God has me on. So often we see people around us, seemingly more successful, happier, more put together, more spiritual, more fill-in-the-blank, and we covet. We want what they have, and we look at what we have and resent it.

The race that I am running right now is the race that God has given me. It is not an accident. And sometimes that is the hardest truth to swallow, especially when the race is arduous and painful. In the earlier verses the writer tells us about the saints who ran the race that God gave them—and for some it was devastatingly painful, I am sure.

I know that I don’t often want to run the race I am given. I look at people running next to me and think they seem a lot more fit to be running this thing than me. I look at people running behind me and long for the days when I had it like they do now. I look at the people ahead of me and think their path is so much better than mine because they have already gotten through the hard stuff. But the grass is always greener on the other side, right?

I covet these things, but I have no idea what it took to get them there. Maybe they were sawn in two before they could ever close the mouth of a lion. Maybe they weren’t. The point is, comparison is never helpful. It is actually destructive. It is discouraging and it takes my eyes off of the race.

My old roommates keep a Bethlehem Star Article (church newsletter), written by Pastor John, up on the refrigerator at all times. It is from three years ago, but I keep coming back to it when I feel the urge to compare my race to the ones around me. Pastor John reminded us that to really love is to stop comparing. I find myself repeating it often, especially when I am overwhelmed by the comparisons warring in my own mind.

The race is hard. God did not promise ease and comfort. But he did promise to give us strength and his presence every step of the way. This is more comforting than any temporal comfort could ever be.


steph said...

thanks for posting, friend. LOVE you lots & lots.

cdt said...

You are welcome! I love you so much!