Life, Faith & Running
". . . let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."
(Hebrews 12:1, NIV)
(Hebrews 12:1, NIV)
I am currently working through Jennie Allen's, Restless Study: Because your were made for more. As a part of this process she challenged us to examine Joseph's life of suffering and our own suffering and reflect on how God can use suffering to guide us. “It is difficult to consider God’s purposes for our suffering…As you process your dark moments, write a letter to Jesus. If you are angry or sad that is okay. Be honest and tell him your thoughts on these moments.”
Tackling this objective was a very powerful experience for me and I wonder if perhaps my transparency of the process in my life could encourage you to dig into your life's experience and write to Jesus about them.
Three years ago there was no way that my heart or mind could have managed to write what will follow. Then I was such a child in my response to our move to America. I was grieving the loss of my people, the loss of a way of life, the loss of dreams, the loss of purpose, the loss of vision, and the loss of understanding, and the loss of security. I was a bundle of anger, confusion and exhaustion. I was lost: completely and entirely lost and seemingly alone.
I don’t know why you brought me out of that place because I am certain of one thing—I did not do it myself. To be honest, I had no will power nor determination to move out of my desert to an oasis with you. It was too hard to see beyond my grief and too hard to see that my experiences, gifts, and dreams could be used in this place—this place so distinctly “home” but completely foreign to me. I looked like that average American mom, wife and friend, but I felt like a stranger in a strange land.
Yet, you put a calling on my heart during my dark days. When my heart was still cold, my emotions still negative, my longing for my Korea home so strong, you met me there! I didn’t clean myself up and come back to you. You saw me in my misery and you sent me a task and a people to be my saving grace. You gave me access to dreams and visions that my heart and wounded spirit shouldn’t have been able to desire. And you brought women to my side to make sure I didn’t walk alone in the endeavor to gather women together to learn about and experience your glory and greatness. You gave me the kryptonite of serving others to heal my heart and open my eyes to the need around me and the strength and focus to press on in completing a task I would never have dreamed up myself. You provided a platform for my skills and your glory, even while my wounds were scabbing over, not quite healed but in the process.
Then I slowly began to soften. But the wounds were deep and my thoughts had been greatly damaged by the dark days, so your work was not complete—my suffering was going to produce more than what I could see because part of my suffering was that my passion for education and my gift of teaching still had no space to operate. And you are an intimate God who designed me on purpose for a purpose and knit together the experiences of my life and you weren’t going to ignore that in me. You knew there was a well full of water with no one using it. It was sitting there getting warm and beginning to grow algae. And it hurt to know that I was made for so much more but there seemed no place or people who wanted what I had to offer (within the parameters that worked with also being a mom at home). Yet, in your sovereignty and through your perfect timing you overcame this too. The timing was your gentleness on my life.
Now, three years later, I find myself not in a comfortable place, but a purposeful place. Not in a place of coasting, but a place requiring determination and perseverance. Not in a place of simplicity, but a place of intriguing and exciting complexities. Not a place of calm, but a place of peaceful submission. This place I have been called to fits the me you have designed me to be and the gifts given me from you; but that doesn’t make it easy. Instead, I am being required to use daily the traits learned in suffering—endurance, perseverance, trust, hope, humility, submission—laying it all down for your glory, while also working at all things as if working directly for you.
Even though I have come out of my desert place, the paradise you’ve created for me looks nothing like the world’s version of paradise. This paradise is not filled with piña coladas and ocean breezes. This paradise is more like what the pearl goes through at the bottom of the ocean: purposeful crashing, purposeful buffing from the sand and gunk within the shell. You have not taken away all the struggles of my life but you have opened my yeas to my people, my places and my purposes with both in this season of my life. Your Spirit and the body of believers around me have allowed my perspective to shift upward and outward, to see that I am called. I am being equipped daily and that equipping may still come in the form of trials, suffering and discouragement. The plans might not go as planned, but you are calling me to rely on your steadiness in my life—to push with perseverance—not for my own glory but for your glory and the saving of lives.
You call me to exhibit your character in this paradise that is about seeing the hearts of men and women as most worth searching after reaching. In this paradise where to follow your calling leads to the peace found only in you: not in circumstances or accomplishment. Make me steady, Lord. Make me steady.
Lord, don’t quit working on me. Even though I am out my valley, keep showing me who I am in you. Continue to refine my motives so that it is obvious to every observer of my story that you are being glorified through my life; that my life is not my own, but your workmanship. Thank you for your comfort in my despair. Teach me to choose perseverance over wasting my minutes on an easy life. Teach me to daily accept that I am in need of learning who and what this story of my life is really about—you and your glory and your kingdom coming down to this earth through the grace you administer to and through me.
Thank you for being an ever-present help in time of need.
Some scriptures to study as you reflect on suffering (as suggested in Restless):
1 Peter 4:12-13
2 Corinthians 1:3-7
Her family and friends know her as, Jaci. She is the wife of a pastor, a mom of four, writing and communications education instructor, a visionary and an avid runner. As a firm believer in the power and effectiveness of the body of Christ united together to live out the Great Commission, she holds fast to this verse, "Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations" (Matthew 28:19). Of equal importance to her are these words, "...let us run with endurance the race that is set before us" (Hebrews 12:1).
Posts in the Run for Your Life, series: