January 31, 2006

Running the Race

This morning I left the house at 6 a.m. for a morning run. It rained during the night, and the fresh scent still hung in the air. I love a good rain out west.

I walked the length of our street, then began jogging south. How far would I go today? Two miles? Two and a half? I decided to go a slightly different route and turned west on a street I haven't run on before. Unbeknownst to me, this 1/2 mile stretch includes a Hill of Death. The stop sign at the top of the hill seemed to keep moving backward with every step I took toward it, mocking my efforts to reach the top so I could turn north and catch my breath on level ground. But the laws of physics didn't change, and I eventually conquered the Hill. Thank goodness the hard part of my route was at the beginning of this venture, or I probably would have quit!

The rest of my run was normal. I kept a steady pace and enjoyed the feel of the wind on my face and head. Sunlight began to break through the rain clouds that still hovered, lighting the mountains in the east. It was a glorious sight and invigorated me, challenging me to keep at it just a little bit longer.

The first time I went running after my miscarriage, I went 2 1/2 miles. I felt great during and immediately after the exercise, but three hours later I was doubled over with painful cramps, curling in the fetal position on our couch, popping Tylenol and thanking the Lord that my mom was still around to get lunch for the children. I don't know if I would have experienced cramps that painful had I not gone running, but I decided not to chance it. A week passed before I ventured out again, and still I took it easy at a slow 2 miles. Two days later I went 2 1/2 miles.

This morning I told myself I would go at least 2 miles, but as I continued running past the Hill of Death and settled back into a good rhythm, I decided to go for 3. Toward the end of my route, I reflected that physically, I am doing just fine after the traumatic events of just 16 days ago. Emotionally, I still have my moments, and I expect I will for...well, who knows how long, but I'm realizing that the pain doesn't just go away simply because I know God is good. Mentally, I feel I am stronger than I was a few weeks ago, having been through great sadness and finding myself becoming more keenly aware of God's presence, listening to His Word speak to me, and following the Holy Spirit as He leads me.

Mom left a week ago, and our life continues on. We do home school activities every morning, get together with different friends about once a week, attend church events, serve in our places of ministry, eat, drink, sleep, laugh, and love. My routine, my beliefs, my values--those are the same. It's my heart and mind that are different. I now understand more fully the meaning of grief and sadness, the gut-wrenching pain of losing someone dear, a precious, God-created life. At the same time, I can also more fully appreciate God's hand in every aspect of my life. I have learned that it's not enough to sing glib praise songs, to say I believe God has a plan for me and those I love. What truly matters is that God is God, worthy of praise whether I feel like praising Him or not. He deserves my praise--He deserved it before I even knew Him, simply because of Who He is. Even if He did absolutely nothing for me, He is still worthy to be praised.

This is something that I have a hard time even putting into words, this lesson I've been learning about who I am and, more importantly, who God is and how I can relate to Him. Salvation was a choice I made when I was 5 years old. I knew and understood I was a sinner, and nothing I could do would get me to heaven. I chose Christ, chose to claim His work on the cross and the forgiveness and mercy He freely offered. Now, 25+ years later, I'm still making choices. I'll always be His child, but there are and will be times when I choose not to act like it. Today, only by God's grace, my heart chooses to praise the Lord simply because He is God. I don't know if I would have been able to do that had we lost Charis 6 years ago when I was 8 1/2 weeks pregnant with her. I'm thankful God didn't test me then, because quite honestly, I think I would have failed a test like that. I'm thankful that God continues to grow me and teach me, no matter where I am, so that He can bring me to a grueling trial, allow me to suffer pain, and then bring me to the other side of it, still rejoicing in Him, giving thanks to Him in ALL circumstances.

And so I keep running, because life is not a sprint--it's a marathon. Though I may face a Hill of Death, a trial that tempts me to get off track, to quit, or to turn around and run back down the hill, by God's grace I will put one foot in front of the other, knowing that I do what I do "to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly" (1 Corinthians 9:25b-26). No, I intend to "run in such a way as to get the prize" (1 Cor. 9:24b).


Sherry said...

I put "God's laws" into the Blogger search. You're post here came up. I read your blog here. I believe in Yahweh, and too am a homeschooling mother, but of two teen boys. I got "saved" when I was 6. My dad went to seminary, and is now an ordained minister. I am however NOT a Christian anymore. My life changed for the better when I actually began reading God's word, as it's written. When I read your post, I felt bad for you. You have so much inside of you, but you are so limited due to the false teachings of Christianity. I broke away from all of those false doctrines, and have been the better for it. If you were ever able to learn about life from God's word, rather than Christianity's doctrines, things would be so much different for you. But virtually every Christian I have encountered has no defense for their beliefs, not even my dad. I can't help but hope and pray that people will learn to trust God and not man. There's obviously a lot being written between the lines here, but I fully expect to be ignored/rejected without ever being heard. Just had to say something, even if it seems like I've said nothing. Hope you find real peace, there's more out there than you have ever known. Sincerely, Sherry

Beverly said...

Sherry, it is you I am sorry for. I am sad that you feel Christianity's doctrines are false and proudly claim NOT to be a Christian anymore, though I fail to understand how you can esteem God's Word so highly and yet resist wanting to identify with Christ (which is the root of the word Christian/Christianity, as I would assume you know). In the Christianity I hold to, doctrines come directly FROM the Bible! You can't separate them! For example, the doctrine of salvation by faith and grace alone, not by works--John 14:6, Ephesians 2:8-9, Romans 5:5, 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, among many others.

The whole point of this post was that I AM learning more about life and God from God's Word. I'm not sure what makes you think I don't read God's Word--apparently you have not read my posts very carefully. I have read the entire Bible cover to cover multiple times and continue to study it every day, as it is living and active--continually feeding my hunger and thirst for God.

You didn't ask me for a defense of my beliefs but merely assumed I have none. That's not the case. Where do you get that I am not trusting God but instead trusting man? It sounds to me like you must have had some rough experiences in your past with people claiming to be Christians. I can only pray that you "will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (John 8:32).

I DO have peace, the peace that passes understanding, no matter what my circumstances.

Bob & Claire said...

Beverly, I just wanted to let everyone who reads your blog know that you are truly a woman who has found peace through our Lord Jesus Christ, and it is the hope and peace that He gives that allows you to be such a transparent person, even in pain. I am so glad to read how the Lord is teaching you and using this pain to make you an even more beautiful person, and I know He will use you to comfort others who have gone through this experience too.

Beverly said...

Thanks, Claire! I appreciate your encouragement and support, just as I am so thankful for all our friends and family who have wrapped their arms around us (spiritually speaking) and upheld us in prayer.

Darla said...

Hi Beverly! Thank you so much for sending me your blog site. I got a chance to read it tonight and had a good cry. I still have my "moments", like the other night on tv...I was watching a show, not thinking about anything, and a woman was in the hospital giving birth to her first baby. I was fine until she took the baby to her husband, who was also in the hospital for something (this was a fictional drama obviously) and she introduced the two of them. I just started bawling, out of nowhere. I cried for about 2 minutes and then, it was over. I also wanted to tell you I loved the poem and cried through that too. With the birth of my first two babies, my husband bought me a charm bracelet and charms to celebrate their lives. We ordered a charm for our third baby and we go pick it up tomorrow. It has the date when our baby went to Jesus "1-19-06" and the words "Not in our arms, but in our hearts" on it. I'm sure I'll have another "moment" when I add it to my bracelet. Anyway, thanks again for sharing. I'll see you Sunday. Darla