Life, Faith & Running
". . . let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."
(Hebrews 12:1, NIV)
(Hebrews 12:1, NIV)
Reflections in response to IF:Equip Study: Mark 16:1-13
"But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.”And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid."
A few things strike me as I read this passage and watch Jennie Pitts' artistry in her painting and narrative of the day tomb was opened and found empty. Mostly, I am struck by the women's fear disabling them to do what they were asked to do. They were asked to go and tell what they had seen. They weren't asked to preach or teach or heal or to be leaders, just go and tell what you have seen. But still they were scared to tell. What scared them so much? That people would laugh at them? That people wouldn't believe them? That they would be sent to prison or to the cross? That they would be accused of stealing his body? On that first Easter day the Devil was at work trying to keep the resurrection of Christ's life a secret through disabling the mouths of his followers with fear. This reminds me that I need to pray against my own fears because I too sometimes allow my fears to hold me back from obedience. I too allow Christ’s story to get lost in my fears. Especially, when obeying requires that I use my words to tell my story--to tell what I have seen and what I feel.
Which is ironic because I am a lover of stories--I love to hear others tell their stories. But I am slow to let others into my story because I fear the same things the women at the tomb feared: people will laugh, people won't believe, that I will be an outcast, that I will be accused of something. But in not allowing myself to tell my story and by not inviting others into my story I am denying Christ the ability to work through my story. I am putting myself in control of my narrative, instead of allowing Christ to go before me. Instead of trusting that He goes before me and is writing me into others' stories and them into mine, I shrink back and decrease power of all of the stories around me. As a result, little parts of who God made me to be are hidden away. And I begin to believe the lie that my feelings and my story don't matter all that much to those around me. I ignore my gifts and uniqueness because I fear...I fear what?
I don't even know sometimes...
Do I fear that who I really am on the inside, the parts that I don't let people see very often will turn them away? That I will shatter their idea of what a good pastor's wife feels and thinks? Do I fear that if I put myself, my ideas and feelings out there, and if they are ignored or squashed that I will be hurt and grow bitter? And then fear that I will not recover and I will not trust that my God is big enough to heal my hurt and turn my rejection into acceptance? Do I fear that my mustard seed faith is just too small to be helpful in the reality of a world where, though the battle is not against flesh and blood, but the principalities of the darkness, the battles of words, perceptions, and assumptions distract and derail my objective in battle? Probably, all of the above and more.
The truth is that I don't really want to do battle--it is too hard, too dangerous, too awkward, too uncomfortable, and too costly. Really, this is what I tell myself. But living in the seemingly comfortable, safe and socially-correct place leaves little room for God to be great, for God to be my God, for me to live out the promises of the Bible. In cowering to my fears I miss out on so many stories and I miss out on overcoming through the blood of the lamb and the words of others' testimonies. And maybe through my denying others access to my testimony, I am hindering the power of my testimony, which is really Christ's testimony because on my own I can do no good thing. If Christ has changed my storyline to one of grace, humility, salvation, protection, peace and triumph, am I also, like the women at the tomb, called to go tell of this new narrative? And perhaps even better than telling, I should display this new way of living with such gentleness and confidence that it calls others to join the narrative of the provider of such a story.
As I am writing all of this I am reminded of the Sunday school song, “this little light of mine/I’m going to let it shine/…hide it under a bushel, no!/I’m going to let is shine”
If I want to let my light shine before all men I have to be lit on fire, my wick needs to burn, my wax needs to melt and evaporate in to the air and pool up next to the glowing flame. A lit candle is transformed by the heat; it doesn't get to remain as it was prior to being lit. And because of the burning, light is cast into a dark place; aromas are sent into the air. But first the candle must be taken out of hiding under the bushel. Then a fire must light the wick. That fire is the Spirit. The wick is my life being ignited for a holy purpose. The light that shines from me is Christ’s testimony coming through my words, actions and thoughts. Yet, I am imperfect, thus my words and actions are too. But my testimony is not one of perfection; it is one of overcoming. And just as the angel told the women at the tomb: “But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he [Jesus] is going before you to Galilee.” I need to daily remind myself that Christ is going before me. If I allow him to lead and I stand on his promises I have nothing to fear. I can rely on him to provide the words to speak truth, life and love into other’s narratives and to open myself up enough to receive the same in return.
My prayer for you and me today is that we could let our light shine and that we could trust him to go before us, to be our guides, and that the words of our testimonies would bring hope and light to all those who cross our paths.
candle light image source: http://www.blogbigtime.com/lifestyle/burn-your-candles-longer
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: