Running the Race

I’ve been frustrated at some people recently, but I think I may be doing the same thing that they’re doing. I hate it when that happens.

In the past couple of decades, God has awakened a bunch of stuff inside of me, and I’ve gone from being a “faithful churchgoer” and a “good Christian” to being a lover. I’m running this race with more passion and more determination and more energy than I have since I was first saved.

As a result, I’m further along in the race than I used to be, the race I refer to as “That I might know Him!” Some of the people I used to jog alongside are still jogging, and we don’t fellowship as much any more, because I’m running with pretty much everything I have, and they’re still jogging. I don’t mean this to sound prideful, but I’m running ahead of where they’re running, and we aren’t close enough in the race to treasure the same things any longer.

Recently, a friend got in my face. He’s running the race, and very recently, God has lit the fire in him that He has lit in me, so my friend is running as hard (at least) as I am now, but he’s starting from way back there, from among the joggers. Among the joggers, my friend is now leading the pack.

He read some of the things that I’m posting, describing some of the new treasures that Father has been unveiling as I’ve run hard these last couple of decades, and my friend, who is still running among the joggers, didn’t understand the treasures that I’ve recently found. So he got in my face, and frankly, he ripped me a new one. “I’ve never heard of these things! These new revelations can’t be from God! Nobody that I’m running with has ever heard of them.”

Frankly, it hurt. It hurt a lot. But “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles.” Father comforted me, and showed me the race we were running. And then he showed me the bigger picture.

My friend was making a mistake: he was running ahead of a pack of runners, ahead of everyone he used to be jogging with. That was a glorious thing, and Father is real proud of him. But my friend was only looking at the people that are following after him: he’s only looking behind him, and so he thinks that he’s running at the head of this race, leading everyone who is running in this race, able to speak and able to correct every runner in the race. He’s not looking ahead, not seeing the multitude of runners that are ahead of him, many of whom have been running hard for so long that they’re several turns ahead of him, out of his sight beyond him.

And so it’s hard for him to think of others running ahead of him, who might have revelation that he doesn’t have yet, but which he will have, if he keeps running as well as he is now. But when he encounters those other runners now – on Facebook or some other social venue – he thinks they’re running the wrong race, because they’re running a path he knows nothing about, and he thinks he has to correct us.

So I get hit with this fiery dart, and so I look back to see where the “attack” is coming from, and I see it’s coming from my friend running behind me, my friend who doesn’t yet understand the things that I’m discovering in God. I realize, it’s out of love – or at least out of concern for his friend – that he’s wounding me, that he’s slowing me from my own race, that he’s drawing my attention behind me.

And my attention is indeed behind me, helping some people catch up, dodging others who want to “fix” me, and remembering how I used to be a contented old jogger, back in the day, thankful that I’ve learned to run.

Part of me wants to slow down my pace, to drop back in the race to where I can run side-by-side with my friend. But Father reminds me that this can’t be a solution: there will always be someone slower than me, maybe someone who’s dropped out of the race altogether, who’s offended by the fact that others are making progress and he is not: someone will always be offended at those who are running the race. It’s death to stop running, and Someone else has already died for them, Someone else is encouraging them to run their own race, and He’s a capable coach: I can trust my friends to Him.

Father then gently pointed out that I’m doing the same thing. I’m looking behind me, at the people I’ve passed, at the people catching up. I’ve taken my eyes off the prize. I had started to measure my progress by those behind me. That’s a mistake!

He reminds me of the rules for this race: “And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

Looking forward, I’m startled to discover we are in fact surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses! Oh my! I’d lost track of them.

Come on! Let’s run!

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