Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A mustard-seed-mountain-moving faith

I was ¾ of the way through my training schedule when God said something that blew my mind away. Seriously. It challenged everything I knew – or thought I knew – about him.
I was crunching the numbers, calculating how many miles I could run, how many miles I needed to run, and how many days I had left to train. Trust me things were not looking good. I was behind on my training and it wasnt for lack of trying, which added even more stress. Then, as I drowned in distress, God gave me a modern, and very intimate, example of a mustard-seed-mountain-moving faith. Such a faith would look like this: A runner, forsaking their training schedule, yet stepping up to the starting line completely confident that the race is as good as won. No preparation needed, no hundred plus miles logged, just a complete and utter trust in God. (To drive this point home, for those that are not familiar with a half marathon training schedule, imagine anything you have strived to conquer, and then imagine being asked to forsake all preparation yet promised that you would still be a conqueror.) That image entered my mind and I began to cry. I cried in awe of Christ. I cried with a longing to have such a faith to move mountains beyond my justification. And, I cried for every man and women that is trying to earn their way to heaven’s finish line.
When it comes to being reconciled to God, Jesus is our training schedule. He is the way and the truth and the life. Only through Christ will we cross heaven’s finish line. Even more glorious and mind boggling, is the training schedule that Christ has outlined because it is not about us, what we can do or what we can train to do.
Yesterday I ran a half marathon. I spent months training for this run and still found it to be a huge challenge. After I signed up for the race (in March) I was pretty confident. I remember thinking, “I’ve got this in the bag! All I need to do is follow the training schedule.” And then my body failed me. There were days my legs were so weak that I had to grip the handle bars on the treadmill to sustain my body.  Frustrated, I realized that I was in over my head. The whole follow-the-training-schedule plan was not working. It took me weeks to recognize my arrogance. Yes, arrogance. (I know - I was confused too). God showed me that saying "I've got this" not only was not possible, it was not pleasing. What’s wrong with wanting to overcome an obstacle?  Doesn’t God want me to step outside my comforts and self-imposed limits?
God showed me that saying “I can” is just as arrogant as saying “I cannot”. I know – I bet you are confused too. So what can we say? How about this: He can! I can do all things through he who strengthens me means that whatever we strive for will be accomplished in result of our belief in Christ and not a hope vested in ourselves or others.
I crossed the finish line yesterday but it was not as imagined. Humbling would be the best word to describe it. My body failed me at about mile 10 with three miles between myself and the finish line. At about mile 11 a woman came and joined me. She ran beside me the rest of the way, bringing me water and encouragement. I would be wrong not to remember her in recalling my victory. She was definitely real. 

After I crossed the finish line a women said to me, "Well, maybe next time you will train better." Maybe I will - if there is a next time. Time will tell if yesterday's race was my inaugural and commemorative race. Whatever happens on earth, at least, I'm ready to cross heaven's finish line. And, my heart is more burdened for those that are not ready, for those who are at their 10th mile and need a savior.

Believing Jesus Christ is the Son of God, was crucified for our sin, and was accepted by God as a worthy sacrificial offering for our sin - that is the training schedule that will get you to heaven's finish line.

John 14:5-6
Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way? Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Ephesians 2:8
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. 

Matthew 17:20
He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

Philippians 4:12-13
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

Romans 8:37-39
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.