The Table of Grace…

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10425486_850309968359248_1973288684909216518_nYou prepare a table before me…Psalm 23:5

In retrospect, I see it was Him. He had other plans for us; for me. But at the time, which was not so long ago…

I was aggravated. Frustrated that the call was not made sooner. He had talked about it. In fact, he knew the day was coming, so reservations needed to be made. But, time gets in the way, we get busy, and the phone call was put aside. That time lapse cost us a “no room at the inn”.

So, plan “B” would have to do.  I was not thrilled at plan “B”, it meant there would be no special time to dress chic and trendy, travel to our favorite spot, and enjoy one of the best meals in Southern Indiana. In essence; there would be no festivities…home would have to do.

Now, please permit me a minute to just ponder on the page here…

1. I love my home. I love being in my home. I love making a home. Nine times out of ten, give me my home.

2. I love to cook. I live to cook. I love the way it makes my home smell. I love to savor the finished product and simply swoon over the the whole process of yeast, flour, eggs, butter, and sugar. I love whisking away the browned bits of seared meat into a savory reduction to pour over a perfectly cooked filet…oh the love…

3. I have a deep affection for setting the table. I love setting a table. My table is a palette of love…  China, stoneware, crystal, brass, silver, wood and iron. It’s creative. It’s giving elegance. It’s a place to gather with my beloved family.

All of this makes me, fortunate. Yes, fortunate, blessed, satisfied, and content.

But on that night, again, not so long ago…when there was “no room at the inn”…

I began an evening of blessedness.

We sat down, held hands and prayed. We delighted in His presence, for He was delighting in us. His plan had unfolded. We participated in “the Table set before us”. 

It was a table of reminisce, a table of love, a table of sacrifice. It was a table where a “cord of three strands” was evident, strong, and growing stronger.

When there is “no room at the inn”, a great thing is birthed. His plans are made known. His grace is sufficient. His love covers all things. A place where we once again find, there is no greater Sacrifice…

Truly, this was a Table of Grace…

It was right here, in my own house…

The Table of Grace, where we gather and pray, and partake…

join the Table of Grace…it is a journey, and a place where all are welcome and satisfied…

Taste and see that the Lord is good…Psalm 34:8

Broken Pieces and Slivers of Light…and fear

One day it will happen. It is most unavoidable. No matter where you are in life, there comes a day when a shattering takes place.
Remember you are the clay… He is the Potter.
You are dust.
You are grass.
You are fragile.
That’s the flesh and bone of it.
You are held by His molding hands on the Wheel of grace and continually bathed in the Water of Life..
You go through the fire, you feel strong on the other side, yet you can be broken in a million pieces…even on the other side of strong.
Is that where you are?
I want to know.
I’ve been there.

I walked in on my broken pieces. I was taken back by the fragility of flesh, startled at the broken remains staring me in the face.
It was a quiet room. There were no windows , only a door. The door was cracked, letting in a sliver of light. The light reflected the jagged pieces of myself, lying there on the floor.
It was time. Time to pick up each piece, time to decide what fit and what didn’t.
There were many pieces that I loved. I almost cherished the way they looked, the way they had always made me feel; they were familiar, they were comfort. But when I tried to make them fit, they left shards of glass in this flesh. These old familiar pieces , these comfortable parts of me; the ones I always liked, simply didn’t fit… I had some gaping holes in my flesh.
How about you? Do you have any gaping holes?
Round and round and round went the Wheel of grace.
Bathed in the Water, I had to learn, once again; I am not my own. I was bought with a price. To run the race is to gain. To lose is to gain.
My gaping holes have not been filled with new theology or new prophetic words… They have not been filled with works or even the Body…
My gaping holes have been filled by the Potter. He has filled me with Joy! Peace! Strength! Faith! Love! Wisdom!
So when that day comes and you find yourself staring at your thousand pieces, know this- you, put back together, is a better you. Some pieces won’t belong… And it’s okay. On this life journey, Jesus is always along for the ride. His hands are on you. His plan for you is more than you could dream of asking…His love for you is always. Always.
If you walk into that quiet room, and you find yourself startled, do not fear. Do you see that door? Do you see that sliver of light? Stretch out your hand and let your fingers close around the knob; then swing with all your might…
Let the Light of peace, joy, strength, love, faith and wisdom drench your sweet soul and journey on to be the best ‘you’ He has called you to be!

Jeremiah says it best…
For I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you, plans for for hope, plans for a future…29:11; paraphrased only slightly😊

The Back Burner Church

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I get a little “meh” when it comes to the “Church.”

Call me lazy, call me tacky, call me wayward, call me fallen away, but here’s my deal.

I’ve put church on the Back Burner.

It is a proven fact; we can rally with the best of them. We can organize anything from a pot luck dinner for 200 to a march for 2,000.

We can lend our hands and even get them dirty. We can pray 24/7 and fast from three to forty days.

We can sing great songs that wrench your heart with conviction, or praise; we will take either one.

We minister, prophesy, and deliver from evil.

Our biggest gestures come in the form of being the “hands and feet” of Christ; as so we are called to do.

But me, I’m tired of that.

It’s not working for me.

What! How can that be? How can that not work for you!??

Believe me, I know what you are thinking as you are reading this. I’ve thought of the same things. I’ve beaten myself up for my lack luster faith. Or so you may call it.

My knees are skinned, my eyes shadowed, my vigor waned, and my heart bruised by this thing called “church” or dare I say, “christianity”.  My Bible pages are worn and torn over searching for my indiscretion, trying to find the “why” of it all. My mouth is dry and parched over the lamenting and grieving over what I thought was my identity, my ministry, my life. Don’t you see, I poured myself into “christianity”.  Thoughts of “great things for God”, pulsed through my veins. “Bearing much fruit”, was the flush to my cheeks.

I thought I had it down pat. To a “T” you might say…

But one day, it stopped working for me …

and I put church on the Back Burner.

I simply recoiled from life, and I recoiled from church.  And believe me, when you recoil from something that has been so ingrained to your daily life, you begin to question every last cell of your DNA…

Some might call it a “falling away”… or call you a “back slider”.

That my friends is the farthest thing from the Truth. You don’t fall away, you don’t back slide…you put church on the Back Burner… and then you dig deep. Deep into the heart of the One who created you. It is a must. It is a necessary thing to find the heart of the One.

Over the last two years, I’ve grown up a bit. My relationship with Jesus is a whole new thing. The One challenged me to mature while sitting on the Back Burner, in a very quiet sort of way.

Now days, I pour myself into Jesus. I pour myself into this life He’s given me. My joy is unspeakable. I relish every moment, every second and count every cost. I don’t worry about tomorrow. I don’t worry about the next speaking engagement, the next book I will write, or what else can I do…

Maybe one day I will jump back into the frying pan, but for now-

I just live on the Back Burner…

The Back Burner Church, known to those who come, as The Living Room…

A New Year’s Resolution

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I was thirty-five years old when I received some of the best advice in my life.

It was not solicited, nor was it expected. But on the certain Sunday, fifteen years ago, my messenger arrived with a very personal word of instruction…

I was sitting in my church, minding my own business, ready to be dismissed when by leaps and bounds she came; literally. Eyes focused on me; she pushed her way through the crowd. I knew she was coming for me and quite frankly I didn’t know whether to stay put or run for my life!

I looked and there was nowhere to go, nothing to shamefully distract me, and no one to hide behind. What was a girl to do?

I was the target of a mission. A holy one at that.

Funny, as I look back, it was the fight or flight syndrome that ensued, yet when the Lord decides you are His mark, there is nowhere to run and there is nowhere to hide.

Time to put your big girl panties on.

She made her way to me and said, I have been praying for you and I have something to tell you.

Oh my. I wasn’t ready. ‘Cause deep in my gut I knew things were about to change.

I was a target of a holy mission.

So here it was…ready or not the arrow had been released.

“For the next six months, pray God’s will for your life. Nothing else. Got it? Nothing…”

It hit me hard. That arrow went straight for the heart; mine. It hit its mark, for the piercing pain when it did, screamed of change.

I had to sit for a moment.

And then, I smiled. I smiled as if nothing hurt. I smiled as if this wrecking ball really didn’t shatter my dreams. I smiled, and said, “okay, I will”…

The rest of that Sabbath day, I wrung my hands just as my heart had been wrung.  I did not know what to do…I could argue, I could ignore, I could simplify, or I could submit to that arrow and the pain.

I was the target of a holy mission.

But that night, I got down on my knees and said these words…

“I pray God’s will for my life”.

That’s all I could muster up. A tiny, little, feeble, weak prayer. My heart wasn’t even in it.

For the next, oh, I don’t know; maybe three months, that is all I prayed. Just those measly seven words.

There was power in those seven words. Power. There was change in those seven words. Change.

I am forever grateful for the woman, the message, the mission.

I am forever grateful that He chose to make me His target.

And I found there is no greater prayer than that tiny, little, feeble, weak, seven word prayer.

Are you brave?

Do you have courage?

Would you like your best life?

Then consider yourself a target of a holy mission.

I will be the messenger.

Pray God’s will for your life. Nothing else. Got it? Nothing….

Get ready for incredible New Year!

First Steps…

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Eve picSuddenly, the Breath entered and the darkness became Light…

Her eyes had not quite adjusted to this Light, and she covered them.  Slowly, she stood. She felt strangely secure.  As she removed her hand shading her eyes, she noticed her surroundings.  Everything was of such exquisite beauty. The lushness of the trees and grasses. The flowers were vibrant in color and scent. The sky was painted a hundred shades of blue and when the breezes came; the sky would shift like pages of a book and the color of rainbows came into view.

She began to feel her surroundings. The cool dirt beneath her bare feet, the coolness of the breeze ruffling through her hair.  What was this? Where was she, who was she?

These were questions only The Creator could answer.

When she took her first step, it was as if lightning went through her.  The dust of the ground began to give way when Someone took her hand.

Her senses were coming to life.  She heard whispers and felt the wind on her skin.  She heard rushing water.  She smelled honeysuckle and lilac. She saw foundations of sapphire, emerald, and chrysolite. Maybe the Light was emanating from there…

How did she know these things, these smells, these sounds…these colors…?

This Light;  it could be blinding if she looked at it straight on, but if she tilted her head just slightly, then she could see a form…

Oh, yes…this Form, this Someone was holding her hand.

All at once, her eyes were opened to the Light;  she could behold it and her eyes did not burn. But something was ignited  in her heart.  She could not look away…

As she beheld Him, she felt the flame begin to burn. Deep within her, love was awakened just as planned.

She became acutely aware that this Someone created her. This Someone loved her. This Someone knew her…

She couldn’t help it.  She had to ask because she had to know…

“Do you have a name?”

No words were spoken at that moment for the Light began to envelop her. It swirled in the air as spun gold and it wrapped itself around her as a robe. She looked as if she was clothed with the sun. Wisdom and Knowledge made themselves known; fully known…

Deep within her, she heard Thunder. She looked and the Form was no longer there; it was a Tree.  As she fixed her eyes, this Tree began to sway and move as if it had life. It was as if this Tree had words to say…

Then it began. The leaves of the Tree whispered wisdom and knowledge to her soul. It was if they had the ability to speak all things…things of the unknown past, and things of the unknown future…but that part she didn’t hear. There were some things left hidden to her ear only to be revealed by future decisions..

She only heard about the Ancient of Days.  How from the foundation of the earth it was written. It all was written, from beginning to end; before any of it came to be; it was to be done.

How long this took, she did not know; time was not measured here.

Finally, the answer to her question came.

My name is “I AM”.

And with that, it all became clear.

He was everything she needed. He was not only her Creator, but He was her God, her Protector, Teacher, and Friend.

He was the Lover of her soul.  He loved everything about her; she knew it. She didn’t have to ask Him, she knew it deep within her.

And she also knew this;

She loved Him…and no matter what would happen; neither of those things would change.

And within the security of that knowledge; Woman took her first step into the Garden…

CITIZEN by Rob Peabody… a book review

Rob Pecitizenabody is getting it right. I knew that within the first few pages of his book, CITIZEN.  He is a “reformed” western pastor. I write this with a smile…the words, reformed western pastor, they leave a few butterflies in my belly. Why? Because Rob Peabody gives me hope. Hope that there is a chance I may learn to live this life as a christian in a western world of religion where we need authenticity, and please, not another tee-shirt.

Do you understand what I am saying? I wrote about it in my review of Interrupted, by Jen Hatmaker.

Relationships. Authenticity. Servanthood. Slave.

In a world where WWJD is used mostly as an idolized mantra, where being a “christian” is the cherry on top of a “sunday”, ( there’s a play on words here, did you get it?) :) In a world being run over by the religion of tolerance in place of true-hearted love and grace, some of us are a little weary and need some authenticity.

Rob Peabody brings  it. Full on.

“Religion and sin taint and confuse the message and person of Jesus”. pg. 155

We can’t mix it intentionally; religion and sin. We can’t think we can be religious and even get into the Kingdom of Heaven. See Matthew 7. They all thought they were doing it just fine, prophesying, casting out demons, doing miraculous signs…yet they were ousted. Why?

Relationship. There wasn’t a real one with Jesus.

We can’t change a world with wearing crosses around our necks, tattooing them on our wrists or wearing one more of our Monday thru Friday religious tee shirts. In fact, pagans bellied up to the bangles and beads and tattoos…Jesus said we are to clothe ourselves in righteousness…His, not ours.

We need to start wearing our wedding clothes. Jesus talks about this too in Matthew…

Now it sounds as if I’m against all of what I just wrote. Nope. Nothing could be farther from the truth. I love signs and wonders, the gifts of the Spirit, I wear a cross around my neck, an arm load of bangles and leather, would love a tattoo and every once in awhile you can see me with a Jesus shirt on. What I’m saying is, it pretty much doesn’t change the world as a whole. It may be an open door, or maybe I should pause and use that in the past tense,…used to be an open door. Now, I feel it is becoming a door that is slammed in our faces. Again, why?

Authenticity.

We are so afraid of being real. Or, we maybe we just don’t have any idea who we really are; as an individual or a body…Rob Peabody addresses this in CITIZEN.

So if you are having an identity crisis…Read it.

If your church is founded on sand…Read it.

If you are tired of a His Kingdom being fractured by religion…Read it.

If you are ready to see a different side of the Kingdom…Read it.

You simply will not be disappointed. In fact, you may find yourself planting your feet with a little more force, with a little more boldness, with a little more grace, and a lot more love.

Thank you Rob Peabody for sending me your book and the opportunity not only to read it, but to hopefully plug it just a bit!

Life Among the Pagans…

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Ancient_church_ruins_near_TigranakertYes, I was warned, but so were they, that was obvious; at least from the beginning…someone new was coming and there were those that weren’t happy about it.  In fact, the response was; “you are sending me a (expletive) Bible beater”!!??  As you can tell, I wasn’t the most desirable addition to the Little House on Willow.  But, this was my assignment, and like it or not, the table was set and there were two empty chairs.

 And one was to be filled by me.

This Little House was filled with…pagans. Yes, I said; pagans.

They were self-absorbed, self-reliant, strong-willed, and very demanding.  They could be ruthless to anyone who crossed their path.  Yet, in spite of that, tenderness was just beneath the surface.  They bruised easily.

 After all, they were flesh and blood…

The days and weeks passed and I suddenly found myself in a very precarious situation.  I found myself enjoying life with the pagans.  Moreover, they appeared to enjoy me…how?  Why?  I was the “misfit”; I didn’t fit in.

 After all, I was the Bible beater of the House…

According to what I was taught in church, I wasn’t to mix with the pagans. Oh, it was fine to go and witness, or evangelize; that was acceptable.  In fact, I should, it made me look good to God and increased church value.  But to live among the pagans, well, that was simply a cause for alarm…

What if I stumbled and fell?  What happened if they somehow rubbed off on me?  Or worse yet, what if I became like them???

The next three years changed my life.

Did I stumble? Yes, but I don’t need the pagans to do that. I am perfectly capable of on my own.

Did they rub off on me?  Absolutely.

Did I become like them?  My answer to that is this; I hope so…

This Little House, this wonderful heathen filled house lived...and they lived transparent lives. They were real.  They never hid behind masks and truth was never far from their lips.  All of the good and all of the bad sat right there in front of you; take it – or – leave it.  It made no difference to them.

These people endured difficult times.  They endured drugs, divorce, infidelity, and death.  Yet these ugly demons could not penetrate the House. They could not take anyone down to the depths…Why?

We were rooted and grounded in love.  And when one part of the House suffered; we all suffered.

There were no religious rules in the Little House.  We all sat and ate from the same table. We were all equals.  No doctrines of men could be found in this Little House.

This was the purest form of church I had ever experienced. Respect and submission mingled with servanthood and love.

And although at the time, many in the House did not know it or understand it~

we were bound by a cord of three strands…

This Little House was contrary to the mainstream church.  It is not acceptable to be vulnerable or weak.  It is not acceptable to be transparent; to show all the good along with all the bad.  And it is certainly not acceptable to enjoy the pagans.

We are to point out their sin and convert them by condemnation.

Jesus chose to live with sinners.  In fact, He chose twelve rejects of the mainstream church as His closest friends.

Twelve men, turned away from the mainstream church, chosen by Jesus, the Son of God, to change history.

This group of thirteen men were the church.  In fact, they were the first church; functioning as intended; Jesus as the Head, and those with Him learning and attempting to live it out.  Not always perfect; but always seeking the right thing and seeking to please the heart of Jesus.

Jesus was a friend to sinners; He was kind and gentle. Always giving them the Truth, but never rejecting them as people. He embraced those that were “unfit”; the woman with the issue of blood; Jesus took time with one that was a cast off from society.  He ate many a meal with tax collectors, and allowed a prostitute to wash His feet with her hair…

The religious people were stunned at such a life. They didn’t know how to handle One who would give Himself over to “living among the pagans”…

It stirred their emotions to the point of murder.

“He who is without sin, cast the first stone”…

One day while at the Little House on Willow, I realized I wasn’t living among the pagans. No, I was living out the Kingdom; the Kingdom that Jesus talked about; the one He taught about.

The Kingdom that He lived out.

I was tied to these people.  It was a cord of three strands….when one stumbled there were many who were there to help him stand again.  Free of judgement, free of shame.

We realized we weren’t defined by our iniquities. We were defined by our Head and the life we lived; together in unity, as one body…

Each one as different as the hand and foot…

This is what happens when Love comes down.  Unconditional love…Merciful love…

This is what happens when judgement is put aside.

This is what happens when you stop talking and just listen.

This is what happens when you remove yourself from the head of the table...

Love comes down to dwell.  And when Love dwells; things change.  Lives change.

So my time at the Little House was coming to an end and I had wondered if I had been able to leave a mark of Truth, a mark of Jesus inside those walls.

So, what happened to those pagans?

Well, they were woven into the very fabric of God.

Some were baptized, some were healed, some recommitted themselves to their spouse, some held a Bible study in their home, some brought light to a dark place, and some just simply found what they had been looking for; Jesus…all of this was simply Jesus.

But in all of this, what was more important was what happened to me; the Bible beater.

I found that I could be transparent too.

I could stumble and they wouldn’t flinch.

I could fall on my face and my faith not be questioned.

I was never judged for my beliefs; they just accepted me; all of me…and that included Jesus.

So, today, my heart longs for the Little House on Willow…because of them I was forever marked for Kingdom living. I was forever ruined for the mainstream church.

For I would much rather Kingdom live as Jesus; among the pagans.

Oh, and that other empty chair…It was filled by Jesus. The true Head of the Little House on Willow.

Today, I’m linking up here...

INTERRUPTED, by Jen Hatmaker…

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So, way back in July, I did this thing. I was way late, but just thought I would enter in this give-away by Jen Hatmaker and Tyndale Publishing.

“Book give-away to first two hundred and fifty active bloggers who will write a review prior to the release of her newly revised edition of”…

Interrupted…when Jesus wrecks your comfortable Christianity

I made the two- fifty, got the book, opened the package with great expectation and intentions, and then, well, I opened the book. That is where all came to a halt.

There was no way I could review this book in less than thirty days! It was taking me a day to read one small chapter…

This book, it wrote my soul.

You see, reading this book was like eating a sixty- eight course meal in the company of great friends. It had to be done slowly; enjoying the individual flavors and fragrance of the words written. Then came the digestion… it had to be course by course, and bite by bite. In essence, one did not want to become too full too fast, or one said reviewer would blow a gut gasket! (friendly tip, keep the Tums handy, and your knees ready)

Would I recommend this book? Only if you are ready for a dose of reality. Only if you are full-up of western christianity. Only if you want to know Jesus and not religion.

If you are comfortable where you are in your church, if you like living on the comfy words of religion, or if you are comfortable with being surrounded by only the righteous, then don’t even. Don’t even think about it…

That my friends would be to your detriment.

This book touched the very essence of what I’ve been wondering. Why do I like being with the “pagans”…I mean really. Why do I have so much fun with them? Why would I rather be with them than many “church people”?

It comes down to living at the bottom of the ladder. That’s where life takes place, and it’s the home of Jesus. I’ve been weary of keeping up with the religious Jones’s. It wears me out, trying to be the spiritual one…not that I am not, I just sincerely want to be me and guess what…I’m not spiritual twenty-four- seven. I’m just not. I’m being sanctified twenty-four-seven, but that’s it.

I want to make a difference, but I also want to live life with people…just live. I want to do good works. And, give me a little credit, I know good works won’t get me to heaven, but I surely was created to do them. I want to love people better than I do. I don’t want to judge their heart. Because as, Jen Hatmaker states:

“Theology very naturally follows belief, but belief rarely follows judgment”.

Paul told the Corinthians, “I want to be your slave, even though I am a free man”, very loosely translated from 1 Corinthians 9:19.

So, what do you think? Tell me, what is your struggle, if you have one? Do you think we get it right with people? Do you think we can present the gospel in a better manner? Can we desire to be a slave on behalf of others?

This day, I begin to pray, Lord Jesus, give me the desire to be a slave…join me please?

*my apologies to Jen Hatmaker and Tyndale Publishing for my tremendously late book review
*Bravo to Jen Hatmaker for a great book

Take a Deep Breath…and read….

 

 

atlas girl picIt’s taken me awhile to get here. To write. To post a book review. I thought it would be easy, I love to read, and can whip through books in no time…

But this one was different.

Atlas Girl by Emily T. Wierenga

I had no idea what I was getting in to when I signed up to read this memoir and then write a little post about it…nor did I realize how long it would take me to read 278 pages.

Let me write that out…Two-hundred and seventy-eight pages of raw, uninhibited truth. It is the gut of a life lived as a pastor’s daughter turned anorexic, looking for love and finding guilt in the illness of her mother…

In between all of this, she travels the world looking for a balm to heal her savage wound of insecurity and feeling unloved.

It’s a memoir of finding love, that is storybook true…Jesus sent him to her…

Isn’t it strange how we christian girls feel we should have it all together? Emily felt she should be happy and life should be good because, after all, she was serving Jesus. And she was doing it well.  And a good God with a life-giving Son doesn’t deal out a bad life. And They don’t. God deals out what we need and provides all that we need to be healed, to fulfilled, to be loved, to be a beautiful human made out of dust. We have to choose it. There is a choice involved. There is action on our part…and even when we lay things down, find it hard to pray, and question the One who created us, it all comes down to this:

“Lord, fill up my day, not my will, but yours”.

This was Emily’s prayer. This was her answer:

Suddenly, a phone call.  Mum is on the other line, asking me to come for tea, not five minutes after my uttered prayer.

So simple. This, Lord? Is this what you want from us? Even as we wait, to serve; embrace moments such as these. Moments spent drinking tea. Moments spent hugging. Moments spent touching feet and laughing.

So what about you? How are you? Are you waiting? Are you waiting on your call? Are you waiting on a prophecy to be fulfilled?  Are you stumbling around just wondering what in the world you are supposed to do with your life?

Take heart dear friend, we all do, and most of us still are. We are all the same. We all want to be happy and fulfill the call on our lives, but while we are waiting…let’s drink some tea, maybe pass out a few hugs, and laugh…

for this is joy.

Atlas Girl is not an easy read, but a most beautiful life put down on paper with the full spectrum of emotion running through each word, each tear, and each breath…

So do me a favor, read…read…read Atlas Girl, and when you do…

Take a deep breath…

 

Adjusting your stride…

 

Bert trail race

It’s been close to a year now; the day I laid down everything.

I was running pretty much a full on marathon pace. I was set, focused and steady. My breathing was good and my head was clear.  I had set my sights on the long haul, when out of the blue I was sidelined.

I didn’t see it coming. I felt good, strong and comfortable. Every stride was perfect, I felt like a machine ready to tackle this race.

Of course there were stones that were scattered and thrown. Twisted roots in the dirt rising to make me stumble. You know,  those things that are meant for harm, yet are waved off and roll right off your back.  I felt like a million bucks.

I knew how to run this race and I was good, or so I thought, at adjusting my stride.

But apparently this time I failed. I kept running head on and I failed to adjust my stride and found myself lying on the sidelines…gasping for air.

This- was totally new.  There was only one other time I remembered sitting on the sideline trying to catch my breath and pick myself up to finish the race…One. I had consistently trained…daily. But that was not enough; or at least that was my thought.

Maybe it was me.  Maybe I was not enough. It’s amazing what begins to sweep through your mind to find a home.

What takes place when you believe you are not enough? What happens when you’ve trained and pushed and did everything exactly by the Book, yet something still tears. What happens when you fall out of the race because you failed to adjust your stride?

What happens when others wonder about you…about the deep down you that loves Jesus…what happens to the mind, soul and spirit?

A crisis of faith, that is what happens. And it is not so much a crisis against God, it is a crisis against yourself. Suddenly, you no longer believe you know Him. Suddenly you question your ears and your heart; you wonder if you ever heard Him.  You wonder if what you and He had was really a relationship….maybe it was all a fake. Maybe you are a fake…

And then, there is no stride to be adjusted…you are sidelined.

So there you sit on the perimeter of the track and you lay everything down. EVERYTHING.

You lay down your church, your bible, your devotions, your prayers; you lay down your faith.  You put it away to try to find what is real. And finding what is real means you have to get off the sidelines.  Real is never found on the perimeter.

But first, you must sit under the broom tree for a while. You must question the One who probably sidelined you. You must complain and remove yourself from the mainstream for there is no one left…you thought you were on the right track, but that asphalt digs deep in your skin when you fail to adjust your stride; when you are running a blind race.

One year later, yes one… you get up.  You pray. You read. You test your heart. You test your head. You see if your ears can hear.

And then, if you feel safe…if the road is clear… you begin to walk.

Not run, walk.

For if you are going to get back in the race, you cannot run blind as you used to. You know to be very mindful, informed, and wise, if you are going to run this thing. You learn to be acutely aware of the other runners; the proximity to you, will they make you stumble, will they leave you behind because all they want is to get ahead of you…or will they adjust their stride too?  Will they run with you?

You learn to listen to the sound of your footfall on the pavement. Does it sound right…does the clap of your shoe sound harsh or does it sound light? You focus on your breathing…is it too fast and shallow, or are you steady, sure, and rhythmic; breathing in time with your stride?  You become alerted to your arm swing.  Are they loose and not tight? Are your hands unclenched?  Are they held close to your body, or are they flailing in haphazard motion causing more harm than good?

We are called to run the race; our own race not someone else’s. We are called to run with our brothers and sisters, our friends and neighbors.  We are called to be an encourager and not a stumbling block.  We are called to be humble and not proud.  We are called to give drink to those thirsty. We are called to stay in the race and persevere to the end. We are called not to lose hope or faith.

And sometimes, we are called to lay everything down, and to search out what to pick up again. We are called to weed out the tares in our own life and faith, search the scriptures and call out to the One who knows our name and our inmost being. We are to be ready in season and out of season…

And we are called to play by the rules…to run as if only one will receive the crown.

We are called to adjust our stride so we may finish the race marked out for us, so when that Day comes, we may hear…

Well done…

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