How To Win the Race
I woke up this morning tired, filled with longing. I spent the entire weekend in the hospital waiting for my second child to arrive, but having to leave once the contractions stopped.
If you've ever been pregnant, then you understand how hard the end can be. Not only are our physical bodies exhausted, but our minds are filled with anticipation. Every little twitch we feel our eyes widen, our smiles brighten, our hopes rise - could today be the day?
But labor isn't usually like the movies. It isn't a quick trip over to the hospital, a few long pushes and screams, and then out pops the baby. No. Labor is one of the most mentally trying experiences a person can go through.
All the built up anxiety and excitement can quickly deplete when the contractions start to dissipate and the baby decides he or she isn't ready yet. All the fun turns to frustration. All the happiness turns to disappointment. You go home, empty-handed and defeated, only to wait and wonder how much longer.
Not only did I sit in a hospital bed for almost three days, strapped up to monitors, hardly getting any sleep, but I was also sent home with strict orders of "modified bedrest". They told me I could only be up for one hour per meal time. (Like that's going to happen when I have a nineteen-month-old at home and have the personality of a go-getter.)
I woke up this morning tired, filled with longing, but also with a revelation from God. He reminded me of an old secular song I used to listen to (yes God uses secular music too). The lyrics in the song say, "Slow down, let me be still with you, still with me."
The original artist probably intended this for a romantic relationship they were experiencing, but I understood what God was saying. "Be still and know that I am God..." (Psalm 46:10a). Be still.
Then I realized something else. I had written a guest blog post about a week ago about hearing God's voice. Wanna know what I had titled it? Be Still. Wanna know when it posted? This very morning.
God's timing is always this perfect. He is always moving in and around us without us even realizing it. The Holy Spirit prompted me to write and title that post and now I was reading my own words in desperate need of the reminder to "be still and know".
There's a song called "Even When It Hurts" by Hillsong United. It talks about praising God continually, regardless of our circumstances.
"Even when the morning comes, I'll praise you. Even when the fight is won, I'll praise you. Even when my time on earth is done, louder then I'll sing your praise."
We are called to not conform to the pattern of this world (Romans 12:2), complaining and doubting and worrying, but rather to be still and praise Him continually (1 Thessalonians 5:18). We are called to fix our eyes on Christ and the hope He brings to our futures (1 Peter 1:3), not on what we can physically see or understand (Proverbs 3:5). We are called to never be anxious, but pray about everything instead (Philippians 4:6).
The rest of Psalm 46:10 says that when we are still God "will be exalted among the nations...exalted in the earth." God is glorified when we praise Him in trials. The whole earth will see the light you are shining and will be drawn to Him because of your choice to go against the grain, against your emotions.
I know that my current season of waiting is probably nothing compared to what some of you have or are going through. I know that are so many worse things I could have experienced. But even what the world might consider a small struggle, God wants to be praised. Regardless of the size of the mountain in front of us, He wants us to grab hold of His hand and start hiking.
Let's move forward together, marching to the victory song sung over us because of Christ. Let's look to those before us - Abraham, Sarah, Joseph, Esther, Daniel, Mary - and let their faith cheer us on.
Let's get rid of the wounds of the past and present and move toward the future of hope God has had planned for us since before we were born. Let's break from the sinful patterns we so easily turn to - doubt, anxiety, anger, bitterness, rebellion - and run the race with endurance and patience.
"So since we stand surrounded by all those who have gone before, an enormous cloud of witnesses, let us drop every extra weight, every sin that clings to us and slackens our pace, and let us run with endurance the long race set before us." (Hebrews 12:1 The Voice)
And while we run that race, let's not forget to stop, be still, and praise Him continually. For it is in those precious pockets of time where we find the living water we need to hydrate and keep running.
"But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint." (Isaiah 40:31 TLB)