Thursday, June 23, 2016

When Your Spiritual Walk Becomes a Crawl--or a Sprint

Since I started running, I notice other runners. Kind of like when you buy a car and you suddenly realize that EVERYONE has your car.

It's not that I never saw people running before. They were simply annoying people who didn't get out of the road when there was a perfectly good sidewalk to run on. Now, they're kindred spirits. 

When I run, I can't seem to just run and be done with it. No, I have to check my speed. Some days I'm winded, and other times I run like the wind...well, maybe a small breeze. 

Sometimes, other runners pass me, and I wish I could run as fast as they do.

A few weeks ago I took a week-long break to give a minor injury some time to heal. The first day back I ran a mile in a minute less than my average time. I was shocked and wondered if taking time off actually helped me. The next day my time was back to normal. This week I went three days without running, and expected the same thing to happen, but my first mile was a minute OVER my average. I have no idea why these things happen. I figure my body sets the pace and I have to listen.

Life is a lot like running. Some days we sprint and other days we're sluggish. And many of us tend to push ourselves harder regardless of our pace. We think we can do better, work harder, get more done. We notice the speed of others and often wish we could do what they do.

I think our spiritual walk is not so different.

Some days I feel like I'm so in tune with God. My Bible reading has been done, I prayed for my friends--and even with someone--and I'm walking in my anointing. I worship along to the music in my car, encourage others, and serve when I see a need. At the end of the day, I reach around and pat myself on my back for running a great mile. I'm a good Christian.

Other days, not so much. 

I wake up in a mood. I neglect my Bible reading and prayer time. I might throw up a "think" prayer when someone comes to mind, but I tell myself that doesn't count as "real" prayer. I compare myself to others who are running a better spiritual mile. I notice their form and speed and tell myself I don't measure up. Why am I even trying? 

And service? I'd rather not serve anyone. I'm awfully busy--too busy really. Someone else will do it. My worship falls flat. I wonder if God is disgusted with me. I become immersed in myself. Trouble comes, and I'm already feeling defeated so I'm an easy target. I crack. I'm spiritually sluggish and would rather not run today, since my time is sure to be way over what it "should" be. I'm a bad Christian.

The truth is--I can't be a good or a bad Christian. And I've tried for too long to be the perfect one. Frankly, I'm tired of trying. 

I am simply an ordinary woman who has encountered an extraordinary God--the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He has chosen to forgive me, and He loves me just as I am, whether I sprint, walk, or crawl to Him--and for Him. 

When I do these "Christian" things, I don't do them for God. If I'm spending time in prayer or reading my Bible to stay in His good graces, I'm doing these things for all the wrong reasons. He doesn't need any of that. 

I need to do it for me. To draw closer to the God I love. To become more like Christ, who lived to serve, save, and heal. To live outside myself and become other-focused as the Holy Spirit directs. When I neglect to take the time to make these things a part of my day, I begin to feel the effects of a life that is less than ideal.

I always have a choice, and the repercussions of those choices often determine whether I crawl, walk, or sprint.

What I really need to learn is to allow myself to have days to spiritually crawl, as long as I don't choose to stay there. To relish the moments when I beat my average time by a minute, and sprint to God--as long as I realize that I won't realistically keep that pace either. Mostly, to be satisfied with a walk that is bound to fluctuate unpredictably. After all, we live in a world that throws us curve balls and we're housed in these earth suits that grow weary at times. Our pace is constantly changing. We ought to strive to attain a closer walk, but give ourselves permission to fail.

To be anything less than a "perfect Christian" is to know dependence on the God who grants us the ability and the permission to crawl, walk, and sprint. And to know that He loves us the same, regardless of our pace.

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hebrews 12:1-2 (NASB)

Blessings Along the Path,

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  1. I am so glad we were neighbors at Thought Provoking today. I recently wrote on a very similar thought - that we are not perfect. Your post made me stop and think a bit more on it. I am glad that although I am not perfect, He encourages me to remain dependent on Him and keep on going. Blessings!

    1. That's right, Joanne. I think that we ought never to be satisfied with being complacent in our walk--spiritual or otherwise-but we need to give ourselves a break sometimes! Thanks for visiting.

  2. Mary, you really spoke to me in this post. Too often it seems like my worth is tied to how well I perform as a Christian. You would think that God's love moved on a scale depending on how good I'd been. Thank God that He's not like that and that instead God's love is full of grace. Lord knows I need that.

    1. We all do, Marva! Thanks for visiting. I'm glad this post spoke to you. I need to constantly remind myself that I'm okay wherever I am.

  3. Thank you sooo much for this post! I needed to hear it so badly. Have an awesome week! :)

  4. Yes, Mare, YES! You've nailed it. And God loves us even though we're not always running a marathon! Thanks for your apt words.

    1. Aw, you're so sweet, Thea. We really need to try to meet somewhere for a time of fellowship. Let's talk soon.

  5. YES!! The one thing that I find hinders me most on my *faith run* is that I criticize myself for the times that I crawl. I label myself a "lousy Christian" and chastise my lack of faith. And yet, it is in the crawling times that I am often most dependent on God, like a helpless baby needing to be picked up.

    I'm with you, let's let go of labels and evaluations. Let's just run (or walk or crawl or sprint or jump or hop or skip) our race with Jesus. Never taking our eyes off of Him, following Him every step of the way. Keeping our eyes on the finish line.

    Let's move forward...


  6. Thank you for this honest look at living out our faith. Some days it just seems easy and I feel connected and other days I'm so self-absorbed . . . well, that never works. I want to remember that my walk is about who I'm with not how fast or how perfectly I do it. By His grace I will walk with Him and celebrate every step. Blessings my friend!

    1. Yes, Deb...we would do well to remember that we are deeply loved regardless of how fast or how "well" we do our Christian walk.