God doesn’t answer based on what we want, he answers based on what we need.
We may think we need peace and he says no, you need trials. We may think we need joy – he says perseverance. We may think blessings – he says endurance. We may think money – he says contentment. We may think appreciation – he says love.
I was on the hunt for “encouragement”…
After my “big rejection”, an amazing friend who is wise beyond her years, strong in the Lord and faithful to his call, sent me this verse:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” Hebrews 12:1
I think she wanted to encourage me in my race, to help me with endurance, but what God revealed was something far deeper and even more convicting. Let me explain…
I love a good race. I love competing and I love pushing through my personal barriers physically and mentally. I get the idea of running a race for the Lord. Why?
I feel ready to give it all. I feel ready to explode off the starting line and to push no matter what my body feels. I want to arrive at the gate of heaven and fall in front of my King with a fast beating heart, with sweat on my brow. I want to fall before him out of breath, knowing I gave it all. I don’t want to have an ounce of push left.
I want this so badly. But still, I get caught looking at the sidelines. I look at the crowds of people telling me to follow them, I look at my own inadequacies and I pump my arms with pride.
God knows this. He sees this. And, as any fine coach would do – to make me the best runner for his kingdom – he trains me. He pushes me. He sends me through hard training days; days with some pain – some trials. These trials serve to mold me into a champion runner for his kingdom. They strip me of my own ways and the world’s ways – to make me more like him, the ultimate champion.
Even so, sometimes I wonder, despite all this, why I still slow down?
And, this was why Hebrews 12:1 was so powerful. It was this part…“Let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up.”
God bugged me with this verse to see that: I can’t run loaded with weight. I have a part in this race.
Sin weight slows me down. It trips me up. It keeps me from Him.
And, when sin is strapped on, its burden is heavy. It’s consuming. It stops us in our tracks. It distracts us and trips us up. We can try to pretend it is not there, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t.
God is faithful to keep bugging us to address it. When we do, we grow. If we don’t, we fall.
I may have been trying to run a “victory”, but sometimes a “failure or a disappointment” ends up being the greatest “victory”. Why? Because as we fail, we can see our own faults and we hear him whispering, “Confess.”
I didn’t want trials. I didn’t want pain. I didn’t want rejection. I didn’t want humiliation.
God said, “It’s not about you. Confess.”
I confess Lord, I have sinned. I want all of you. I can’t mentally pursue the race you have set before me when my mind is weighed down by my own desires and my own sin.
It is easy to want joy, peace, contentment and blessings. It is easy to want encouragement and motivation, but God is operating from the throne of all knowledge, all power and all sovereignty. In his seat, he sees yesterday, today and tomorrow. He knows precisely what we need to finish our race. He knows precisely what will hold us back from finishing.
He wants us to be champions. He wants us to run with speed and power and strength.
He wants us to finish strong and joyful.
We are more than just conquerors in Christ Jesus.
What baggage holds you back? What do you need to confess? What trials might God be using to train you?
When we confess, God has a greater gift in store. The gift of speed and endurance that helps us run our race unencumbered.