Life, Faith & Running
". . . let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."
(Hebrews 12:1, NIV)
(Hebrews 12:1, NIV)
"All I know is I am not home yet...this is not where I belong...take this world and give me Jesus...this is not where I belong." ~Building 429, "Where I Belong"
Hebrews 10:39 has been rolling around in my heart and brain for about two months now. I came across it as I finished working through Jennie Allen's, Restless Study. It came at a time when I felt I was being called to stand up and be bold--to be an advocate for quality Christian education practices: At at time when I felt confident that God had put me in a particular place on purpose to use my passions and gifs for the love of educating students well and the glory that would be given His name though such a calling.
In my current line of work, once a week I find myself sitting around a table of middle-aged and older, Christian businessmen. The secretary recording the minutes and I are usually the the only women in the room--this is not typical in education circles so is out of my comfort zone in many ways. I am the only educator. I am the youngest. I should really feel quite intimidated (and sometimes I do). But through this current set of circumstances I am learning that I am also quite possibly the most tenacious. I didn't even know I was able to be tenacious is such a setting, but experiences have proven that I am. And I don't even know that my tenacity is completely me. Honestly, I sometimes am quite confounded by my boldness. Sometimes I walk out of the room and wonder, was that just me? Did I just stick to my guns like that? Do they think I am a complete idiot? Is it possible to be too passionate and jump over to the side of just plain crazy? Why am I doing this God? Is this really what you have for me? Shouldn't I feel all warm and fuzzy inside because I am following your call?
So, when I read, "we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed" I thought, amen! I am so with you Mr. Unknown author of Hebrews. My heart was filled with courage. I wrote the verse on the chalk board that hangs in our kitchen. Hebrews 10:39 was going to be my anthem song--keeping me pressing on in the confidence that God put me in that room because of the experiences I have had, the education I have been privileged enough to receive, and the uniqued and specialized personality and gifts He designed in me.
But can I just tell you that standing on Hebrews 10:39 and claiming it as my life verse for this season does not stop the trembling from seeping into my muscles when I have to actually live it? It also hasn't stopped me from questioning my abilities (and sanity) when I leave the table after a proposal that does not go down the way I would have liked it to.
Yet, what it has done has slowed and decreased my self-bashing. If you don't know what self-bashing is, it is something that goes on inside an introverts head after they have just spent all their extroverted energy on an intense conversation, shut-down, let others move on and then realize that they really had more to say--but their word count for the day had some how gotten used up and their mouth went mute: Then they beat themselves up over not saying more. It is when you re-live a conversation or meeting a 100 times imagining how if you would have said this differently, and that differently and asked that question instead of this question...then the outcome would have been far superior. Thus, equating the current outcome to being inferior to whatever the imagined out come had become in your head.
So, in trying to live into not shrinking back, I have found that when I let myself really believe the verse and claim it, I don't let myself slip into the bashing stage for as long. Because if I really believe that God has called me to a place, given me unfamiliar tenacity in that place, and given me a scripture to claim for this season, I have to let go and let him be God: admit that however my conversations roll out, they are not beyond God's control. I have to admit that even when proposals go awry, that God is in that too. Because if he asks me not to shrink back, that means he has got my back. I need to rest my mind from futile re-imaginings. And then take one step of obedience at a time, not shrinking back and giving up, but believing that in all things that I am called to he will save me--even if I don't say all the right words in exactly the right way.
Because this is not my home--God's got my life and the future in his hands. The projects and positions I am called to are run by man, but controlled by God. He uses each of us to do his will and further his kingdom. And when we are genuinely trying to use our talents and gifts for him, he will use us (even if we are flawed). There is an awesome verse in Acts 5, "...if this plan or action is of men, it will be overthrown; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God.” I have found so much peace in this verse, because it takes control out of my hands (and the hands of any man). It shows that what is of God will succeed, and what is not of God will fail and my job is just to keep believing and obeying, not shrinking back, even when I am uncomfortable.
When I live like I won't shrink back but press into what I am called to with braveness, harnessed by wisdom, I can trust that God's got the outcome in his hands; Even if what I am working toward fails in my eyes, it can still be fulfilling God's will because he can use any circumstance and situation in front of us to accomplish his will. He is that kind of God. But if I shrink back, I end up reliving moments in my head that I will never actually get a chance to relive. And in the process I imagine that somehow I am in control of my life and the purpose placed in front of me. Shrinking back stunts my belief. Shrinking back turns my focus toward despair, instead of hope.
Ultimately, when I choose not to shrink back, I choose to believe that this world is not my home. I choose to believe that you can take my world from me, and give me Jesus and I will have found that the trade was well worth it. When I choose not to shrink back, I run with endurance the race set out for me. When I choose not to shrink back, I let what the world thinks matter less and allow what my God thinks matter more. When I choose not to shrink back, I find freedom because I choose to speak and write for an audience of one. And that audience of one asks me to use my experiences, intellect, and Spiritual gifts well and in ever increasing measure: Not to hide them but invest them into the lives of others in a way that will point them to Jesus and the reality of heaven.
Sometimes not shrinking back requires some boldness in words, but sometimes not shrinking back means choosing to believe what the Bible says is true of you: fighting back the lies of what the darkness of world tells you to think about yourself. Sometimes not shrinking back starts out with taking thoughts captive, and turning them over to Christ to redeem. And other times, not shrinking back may require you to speak, to advocate for what will most honor and glorify God. But in either situation, I promise you, that if you choose to not shrink back, but to instead believe, you will find a saving that will set you free to help others be set free. And when you find that saving freedom, you will know, that you know, that you know, that you know that you are living out of a belonging that is found beyond this world. You will cry tears of agreement when you sing, "All I know is I am not home yet...this is not where I belong...take this world and give me Jesus...this is not where I belong."
I belong to a God who loves me and is sovereign over all. Lord, help me to live like I know I don't belong here, yet holding fast to the work you have for me here. The discomforts of this present life are evidence that my heart longs to be where I belong, but they should not cause me to shrink back from your calling. Equip me to live well here, so that more may know that their true, fulfilling and satisfying citizenship is coming on the other side of heaven.
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: