I have been a pastors wife for 17 years. I was a young 19 years old when I married and my husband accepted his first pastorate. Looking back, I realize I knew nothing. Seriously, nothing. I knew how to stand at the back of the church dutifully by my husbands side and shake hands with sweet people who really didn’t know me. I did this for many, many years. Throughout those early years in ministry I tried really hard to be a supportive, strong, encouraging leader in our churches. I really wanted people to like me. So in order for people to like me, I needed to dress the part, serve in every area effortlessly and make sure they didn’t know any of my deep struggles and God forbid they know any of my sin. It was exhausting and lonely and I was stuck.
Lately, I have had the beautiful privilege of counseling with brave women. Women who have chosen to trust me with their pain. Women who no longer want to be bound by past hurts and daily struggles. Women who choose healing. We do not get to escape sorrow, pain or suffering. We live in a broken world, aching for redemption and our hearts are wounded. We live and breathe and long for peace. We go to battle with the flesh. We go to battle with our husbands, our children and our friends. We search for answers and fulfillment all the while our hearts are wounded and our souls ache.
Healing is a choice. It begins when we allow someone to enter into our struggle and to bear our burden. Freedom is found when we share our story and push our wounds into the healing light and out of the shameful dark. We overcome when we apply the sweet salve of God’s truth to our broken hearts and aching souls. We heal when our souls are laid bare and we brace ourselves for the condemnation that is sure to follow and we are overwhelmed with the goodness of radical, scandalous grace.
We we’re made for more. We were designed to demonstrate the strength of the Savior through our weakness. Why then do we pretend to be so strong? We can BOAST of his mighty power through us. This broken, aching, mess of a world is no match for the sustaining, overwhelming, and matchless grace of God. Choose healing, tell your story, apply God’s truth, and be wrapped in His arms of grace. Be still and be loved.
“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ”~Galatians 6:2
“… My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me”. -2 Corinthians 12:9
Last December, one of my closest friends texted me, “hey what do you think about training for and running a half-marathon?” I think I thought, “that would be stupid!”, “why would I want to do that?”, “have you lost your mind?”, “do you even know me?” But my text back said something like “sure”. And so it began. Let me first say, I am not a runner. I began the training very hopeless that I would actually be able to accomplish the goal of 13.1 miles. I cried. I hyperventilated. I whined and complained and then cried some more. Running one mile was nearly impossible. As reality set in, I realized that I had committed to accomplish something that was hard. Hard physically, but much harder emotionally and mentally. I began to contemplate backing out but felt the gentle prodding of the Father whispering “run.”
From the start I employed my sisterhood of godly women to pray for me. I needed their intercession and support. They did not disappoint. The community of friends the Father has given me are like a mighty army. They began to send me scripture, pray petitions of strength over me, and spiritually chose to run this race with me. You may have heard the phrase “love shows up.” My friend Becky was love showing up. Shortly into my training, when I felt I was at my weakest, Becky showed up to run the long runs with me. Becky is a fierce competitor. She has a coach’s heart. She know hows to motivate, push and challenge. She’s also a mighty warrior of God and knew when I needed to be reminded of who I am in Christ. She spoke the truth of scripture over me, frequently reminding me that God did not give me a spirit of fear but of power, love and of a sound mind.
As the training progressed, God continued to demonstrate his strength in my weakness. I continued to chase after Him, knowing that through this process of training He was renewing my heart and transforming my mind. As long as I can remember I’ve known the verse from Hebrews, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” The Father told me to run so that He could demonstrate this verse in vibrant living color for me.
Here are a few of the truths my heart now knows:
The world is watching. People around us are watching to see if we really believe that Jesus is who we say He is. Do we really believe that our weakness is made perfect through His strength? Do we really believe that He is able to do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine? Is He worthy of our risk-taking, exhaustion, and pursuit?
My race looks different than yours. A sure fire way for me to get tripped up during my training was to take my eyes off the goal and focus on all the other runners around me. They ran so much faster than me. They looked better doing it. They seemed to have endless energy and confidence. The Bible is clear, “let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us.” Not anyone else. Us. The Father has a plan for my life and it’s unique and I’m only able to run this race when I keep my eyes on Him. He is the reason for my Faith. When I take my eyes off of Him, I falter every time.
Two are better than one. We were not meant to do life alone. God has so graciously surrounded me with friends who love Jesus and love me and continually point me back to Him when I get off track.
The finish line is glorious. Training for the half-marathon was one of the hardest journeys I’ve ever taken. Race day was invigorating. The Father answered my prayers and gave me strength and joy. I basked in His goodness. I finished the race, running every step. I did not grow weary nor did I lose heart. The joy of the Lord was my strength.
God may not be asking you to run a half-marathon. But He is calling you out, whispering your name and charting a course for your life. I don’t know all the details of the race He has for you, but I know He can be trusted and when we put our trust in Him, the finish is glorious. So dust off those running shoes and get moving. I’ll see you on the trail.