Yesterday, I ran for joy.
Not for a race, time, fitness or some other noble pursuit; I ran for joy.
Sort of like Forrest Gump; I just ran.
After years of starts and stops, contemplative conversations during shared runs over the Flint Hills, and the refuge of running alone with a God I cannot see – God is taking a wrecking ball to one of my last refuges: my own strength and determination.
I have a race ahead.
My best pal and I are going to take our second shot at the Oklahoma City Memorial half-marathon. I realize that I have piled on so many expectations for this race – this act of putting one foot in front of the other – that it was no longer fun and no longer a refuge.
I set myself up to either fly or fail.
There has been a whole lot of failing.
And as I wheezed through miles on foot, I mourned all that I’d lost in age, location, family and friends nearby, and my one last refuge of strength – the ability to get up and run no matter my fitness level or weight. (I’ve had friends tell me that I run off of sheer will rather than training. Chutzpah. I like it!)
But running on my own strength or working or pleasing or friends or family or self or pretties should never be our Refuge.
That’s God’s job.
He’s really good at it.
And he reminds me afresh of his strong love for me; loving me so much that he will not allow idols or little gods to take his place as Refuge in my life…and running.
He says come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.
Cast your cares upon me because I care for you.
Trust with all your heart and I will make your path straight.
Run with endurance the race that is set before you.
Or my favorite, Isaiah 40:29-31:
He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.
So in his wisdom, God set his wrecking ball to my refuge – my personal Chutzpah – so that he could make way to be my day-to-day, run-to-run, one-foot-in-front-of-the-other eternal Refuge.
My strong shelter
The hen who gathers (me) her chicks under her wings
My sheltering tree, fortress, Father, Savior.
And in order to get me out the way as I’ve asked since that rainy night alone in January 1986, he dropped his wrecking ball into my life again so that he could tear out the old crumbling self-motivation, rotting self-congratulation, flimsy self-stuff…and become my all and all.
As the Boss sings in Wrecking Ball*, I’ll continue to invite God to destroy the works of my own hands and of the enemy so that His purposes, His strength, His character shines through.
I wouldn’t really want it any other way.
I don’t want to settle for less.
*And hard times come, and hard times go…
Bring on your wrecking ball
Bring on your wrecking ball
You probably will never sing Bruce Springsteen’s, Wrecking Ball, in church, but if you are interested, here are the lyrics, http://www.lyricsfreak.com/b/bruce+springsteen/wrecking+ball_20999727.html