March 10, 2014.
Mark it down as the day the fine people of Manhattan, Ks came out of hibernation.
But seriously though.
I write this at 6:45 p.m. and the sun is still up giving us a whopping 79 degrees to soak in. And the people. are. loving it. Today has been wonderful. Contrary to usual Monday morning wake-ups, this morning I woke up feeling overwhelmingly blessed for having a job that allows me to make impacts on such young, impressionable, sun-shiney kiddos. Later on, a friend and I drove the usual route to campus and caught the FIRST parallel parking spot on the FIRST street we tried. *ne-ver-ha-ppens* We walked the short distance across the way and up three flights of stairs and got to class with minutes to spare! Also, *ne-ver-ha-ppens* After class, (which got out early I might add) a friend and I took a little trip to non-alcoholic happy hour where I found a dollar to buy my sweet tea and a coupon to buy my tots. They didn’t take my coupon, thus, another go around for the Free Medium Tots. #ThanksSonic So yes, today, the sun felt an obligation to blind us with it’s gorgeous light. And so the good people of the Mid-West… well, we felt an obligation to blind each other with our pasty pale legs. Hibernation, it does things.
I, for one, broke out the ole sneakers and decided I should take advantage of the weather and go for a run. I then shook my head and said, “eh, no, I’ll walk.” Then the indecisiveness in me took over and said “no, we run.” And so I did.
And became inspired.
And so here I now sit.
At approximately 1.7 miles, God taught me something on an uphill. I don’t know if it was a lesson, or more of a reminder, but either way God placed an image in my mind that I pray I never forget. I saw myself, sweating harder than I was running, making my way up a short incline. But at approximately 1.7 miles, I saw more than that. At approximately 1.7 miles, with another sweaty blink, I saw a cross on my back. At approximately 1.7 miles, with another heavy step, I felt a weight upon my back. At approximately 1.7 miles, I remembered who I was, what I was carrying, why I was carrying it, and most importantly, who I was carrying it for.
I am Darbey, a servant to the Lord Almighty.
I carry the cross of my Savior, who bore the weight I never could.
I carry it, daily, so that others may come to know Him and carry it too.
I carry the cross on behalf of my God, whose name is higher and greater than all.
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.
1 Corinthians 3:23,24
As I trudged on, I looked down at my dirty Nike’s. I thought to myself, how in the world am I worthy enough to even be called God’s servant? To even run this race? To even carry His cross? I can’t hardly carry the weight of the alfredo I just ate, let alone the weight of the CROSS! I looked down at my dirty Nike’s, and thought about Paul the Apostle. Paul, in 1 Corinthians 15 verses 9 & 10, speaks quite possibly the most relatable words in the whole Bible…
For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecute the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
Paul, a man changed by grace, labored on behalf of God. Paul picked up His cross daily, despite his suffering and persecution. The Christian life isn’t meant for perfect people, and it sure isn’t promised to be easy. Running with the weight of a cross that the world shames, can often leave Christians sweaty, cramping, out of breath, and in need of a good calf massage at the finish line. But, running with the weight of the cross is what makes the finish line that much sweeter. It’s purposeful. It’s worth it. The only way to obtain the prize, is to carry the weight. Just a few blocks ahead, I could see my house. I didn’t have too much farther to run. But for the next .14 miles, I felt that weight – a new weight. The weight of the alfredo was gone, and the weight of the cross upon my back consumed my every thought. They say running focuses your mind. And that’s truth. You’d think it would have slowed me down, thinking about that weight. But the thought of my duty as a Christian took over. I was a servant laboring… a witness representing. My steps became lighter and my mind became more focused and determined. I was no longer running for myself. I was no longer running for the sun I had been praising all day. I was no longer running for better cardio and toned legs. I was running for God. I was running for a faithful life of servanthood. Now that’s clarity.
Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me.
All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.
1 Corinthians 9:25-27
I have a friend. …She’s awesome. She’s also training for a marathon. Yup, twenty six point two miles. My friend has incredible determination. When she sets her mind to do something, she does it. She is determined, focused, and brave. She’s been training for this marathon for awhile now and guess what, she ran 16 miles the other day. SIX.TEEN. Pretty sure I had just got done eating 16 handfuls of cereal when she came home. But this isn’t about me! It’s about her.
Come race day, I have no doubt that my friend will be able to run all 26.2 miles. I know this because I know she’s been training. She’ll be prepared and ready. Her endurance will be up, her mind will be focused, her body strong. If we’re planning on running the race of faith with the cross strapped to our back, we must undergo spiritual training. We’ve got to have a clean diet – cutting out the junk and feeding ourselves only from God’s Word. We’ve got to exercise – having a continuous talk with God and practicing faithfulness. We can’t just expect to carry the weight of the cross on weak, mortal, and tiresome shoulders. We must train and become more like Christ! We have to be prepared, focused, and strong in the Lord! Trust me, I’m on the run right now. Maybe you are too. It’s hard. When I find myself wandering away from God, the race seems 10x harder. I’m huffin’ and puffin’ and satan finds ways to trip me up. But when my eyes are dead set on my prize, seeing Jesus before me saying “Well done, good and faithful servant”, I’m invincible. When I reach the point that I feel the magnitude of the cross more than the magnitude of temporary pain and discomfort, that’s when I’m truly running the race.
Em, you rock and you’re gonna show those 26 miles who’s boss.
…Then you’re gonna turn around and punch those .2 straight in the kisser.
Thanks for being cool and inspiring me and stuff.
Isaiah 40:29-31. luh you.
For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.
Running this spiritual race is what brings us closer to God. Sitting on the sidelines will never get us closer to the finish line. It’s when we hit the pavement full speed ahead with sights set clearly on the finish line that we meet God in the realest, most intimate and life-changing way. It’s along life’s “run” that God is able to mold us and change us. Marathon Emily has a love affair with running. Hear for yourself…“Running is a sanctuary for me. I’ve come to find it’s the most pure and quiet time I can find to spend totally alone with God. Just Him and I in conversation. I go running to get things off my chest. I think things through, cast my cares away, ask for guidance, worship, share my joys, be thankful and just talk to Him about my daily ups and downs. It’s when I feel most closely connected to my Savior and I’m eternally grateful.” Running sounds a whole lot like a spiritual journey, doesn’t it? It’s when we’re taking steps toward God that we’re most closely connected to Him. Our steps might not always fall on smooth pavement that’s been struck by the sun. Our steps may at times come down hard on cold, cracked, and slippery terrain. But whether you’re running down through a valley or up over a mountaintop… you’re getting closer to your prize. No matter if you’re running with tears in your eyes or joy in your heart, you’re being brought closer to God Himself. With every mile you tread in servant shoes, you become closer and closer to gaining your heavenly crown.
We cant, we can’t, we CAN’T run this race alone. We must put our full assurance in God, for he is our filling station and our strength. But along with God, we need a booster club. People who are going to run along side us. Not riding alongside in a golf cart like I promised Emily, but people who will run with us and who will keep us accountable and encourage us along the way! We need each other. We’re going to get weak on this run, I know I have many times. And if it wasn’t for good friends, a good family, and a good community of believers… I would have given up and hit the couch already. This race can wear us out… we need people who are going to hold us up when we’re falling down. We need people who are going to say “Keep going! You can do it!” when the rest of the world is saying, “Just give up already.” As the finish line draws nearer and nearer, our need for one another becomes greater and greater.
And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
So those are the things I thought about today on my run. I am “running a race” in a world that is doomed for destruction, for a God who was willing to save it’s people. Pretty awesome. Along the way we’re going to get bumps and bruises, cramps and knots, scrapes and sores, and even a few shin splints here and there. Like I said, it’s not easy and I sure haven’t run at my peak performance at times. But thankfully, God doesn’t ask for perfection. We need only to be faithful, determined, and diligent. We need only to be servants who will gladly bear the weight of the cross at any cost. No matter the miles, no matter the years, no matter the pain, no matter the persecution. Sure it’s easy to run on beautiful days like today. The sun is shining and everything is going great. But what about the days where it’s cold and drear, and it just seems too hard to carry the weight? The days where things aren’t going right and you just want to give up?… Those are the days you must re-focus and remember why you started the race in the first place. The cross isn’t light. Two single pieces of wood held the sins of the entire world. But because of Christ, the cross is no longer weighed down by sin. Because of Christ, the cross is now weighed down by grace. What a privilege it is for us to carry it. Look forward. Set your eyes on Jesus. Press on and KNOW the end of your race is near. Be ready. Don’t wait until 1.7 miles to realize the weight of the cross and the urgency it requires. Walk every step knowing God needs you to carry the cross so that all may come to know it’s true meaning.