Tuesday, December 17, 2013

I found grace in a marathon

This Saturday, I managed to accomplish one of the things I am most proud of.

I ran a marathon.

26.2 miles.

And if someone had told me a year ago that I would be a marathon runner, I would have told them that they were crazy. Athleticism has never been my forte, nor have I ever had any desire to pursue it. I have never really found enjoyment in physical activity.  So if you know me at all, you know that this accomplishment was no easy task. It didn’t come naturally whatsoever, but by the grace of God—I made it. Through lots of discipline, determination, tears, sweat, early mornings, and encouragement—I was able to hobble across the finish line three days ago.

The lessons I have learned through this marathon-training journey are endless. I could probably share with you over a hundred things that the Lord has taught me through the process.

But today, I want to focus on the greatest thing this marathon taught me.

We need grace for this moment, and grace always pursues.

Too often, life is like running a marathon that never ends. We hit obstacles, setbacks, and joys. Just like running a marathon, life can change in the flash of a second. During my marathon, I experienced moments of joy that immediately faded to moments of doubt. I experienced moments of confidence that digressed to moments of wanting to give up. I truly do not know how to explain the multitude of emotions that go into running and training for a marathon. But the same is true for our lives. One moment we can be experiencing the greatest joy we have ever known, and the next we may crumble to our knees in fear.

But for every moment, we need grace.
It is only by grace that we experience joy, happiness, laughter, and love.
And it is only by grace that in our darkest moments we can stand up, shake off the dust and move forward.
It’s only by grace that the awareness of ourselves is beloved, precious, and worthy children of Christ Jesus.
And it is only by grace that in moments of serious self-doubt, we have the confidence to say Christ has claimed us.
It’s only by grace that we experience success, triumph, and satisfaction.
And it’s only by grace that we have light in the midst of stumbling, tripping, and falling in the darkness.

The grace of Jesus pursues, chases, and follows us passionately.

The grace of God pursues us on days we feel like giving up and on days our hearts are filled with laughter.
The grace of God chases us on days we feel lost in the wilderness and on days we feel secure in His love.
The grace of God follows us when we have fallen so hard that we don’t think we can get back up and on days our hearts are overflowing with joy.

God’s grace comes after us whenever we are on mile 20 and we feel our muscles getting sore, our calves tightening up, a cramp in our side, and we completely feel like giving up and wonder why we even decided to do this anyway.

God’s grace is relentless.

I think too often we try and chase after a “better life.”
If only I had_____________, if only I made more money, if only I lived somewhere different, if only this, if only that, and the list could go on. I think we spend way too much energy trying to make our lives better, and in the midst of that pursuit, we forget that a life filled with richness, abundance, and blessing is chasing after us.

God’s grace chases all of us.

So no matter what is going on—we can rest in his grace that overwhelms us.
God’s blessings of grace and life are always right behind us, beckoning us and chasing us.  And in this pursuit there is goodness and mercy.

When running and training for a marathon, it is very easy to be overcome with self-doubt. In the span of one minute, it’s easy to think you can’t do it. There’s no way you can make it. One ounce of pain can make everything you’ve worked for seem impossible. It’s very easy to want to quit and give up.

But God’s grace redeems, relcaims, and restores.

So in the midst of our doubts about who God is, his love for us, and the life He has called us to—we can rest in the grace that is relentlessly pursuing us.

Grace says that God is always good.
Grace says that we are always loved.
Grace says that we are overcoming, every second of every day.

In the midst of our pain, doubting, insecurities, and uncertainties—the grace of Jesus tells us that we are loved beyond our wildest dreams. And that love gives us the strength to press on. 

If running a marathon has taught me anything—it’s to lean into the grace that is chasing after me, moment by moment.

Grace has the power to take a person like me, with no athletic ability whatsoever, and give me the motivation to train, run, and finish a marathon.

But so much more than that, Grace has the power to take our lives, people whose hearts are so far from the heart of God, and mold us, transform us, and redeem us into the image of Christ.

No matter what life throws at us, what joys we experience, and what hardships we must face—the relentless grace of God is pursuing and redeeming us as Christ gently whispers in our ears that we are beloved, worthy, adopted, chosen, and blameless children in His sight.

And that grace gives us strength for this moment, and the next, and the next.

And just like running a marathon, we take each step, and each breath as we breathe in the holy grace of our loving Father.

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