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,--Hebrews 12:1

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Break through the wall...

Same workout as yesterday. Still deep in the taper for the Louisiana Marathon. In fact, we're leaving in about 30 minutes to head to Baton Rouge. Driving 8 hours one way to run for four and a half hours the next day, then drive 8 hours back may not make much sense to most people. But it's what we do.

We do it to honor Amanda's memory. We do it to raise awareness of the dangers of teen substance abuse. And we do it to spread the Good News that Jesus Christ came to this earth to die, so that we could be forgiven and spend eternity with Him in Heaven.

Part of what I love about it is meeting new people and seeing others I've met at races before. At this race, there will be quite a few members of the Red Felt Running Club (RFRC for short), some of whom I've met and some I haven't. I love getting together with these ladies and gentlemen. They're from all over the country. RFRC is an online running club that was originally started as the Marine Corps First Timers group on Facebook. That was in 2011, when I ran MCM, my first marathon. It's a great group full of motivated people who love to run, and it's always fun to get to see and meet members.

This race is also the Marathon Maniacs reunion race for 2014, so there will be lots Maniacs there. It's always fun to run races with lots of these folks too. Even though I don't know most of them, you can easily recognize most because they wear gear that identifies them as a member of the club. Whether we know each other or not, Maniacs greet each other when they meet on the course and encourage those who find themselves struggling. And they have lots of race stories to share, always good for passing the time on a 26.2 mile jaunt down the streets of a strange town.

My race bib number for this race is 8740. If you've read here long, you know I always try to match my bib number with a bible verse to meditate on during the race. But last night, I went to bed with the mistaken belief my number was 8940. So went to the only book in the Bible with at least 89 books and found the following verse.
You have broken through all his walls and reduced his strongholds to ruins. ~ Psalm 89:40

It's amazing how God works. Only the Psalms have so many books that I could match a number like this. But if I'd have looked up Psalm 87:40, I'd have been out of luck. That psalm only has 7 verses. So God used my fallible memory to guide me to an appropriate verse.

Of course, the first thing that jumped out at me was the reference to "walls." The marathon wall is a well-known phenomenon that we all want to break through, or have someone help us break through, or have someone breakthrough it for us. Just pretty much any way to get that wall knocked down so we can make it to the finish line. So when I read it I thought, what a perfect verse to find on the eve of a marathon!

But when I started reading more, examining the context of the passage containing this verse, I saw that its meaning was even more appropriate than I first believed.

This passage in the 89th Psalm is all about God's discipline. The walls it refers to are the walls we build up to protect ourselves. I spent most of my life building those walls, walls to keep people out, even walls to keep God out. As a child I learned to build those walls because I didn't trust people. I didn't trust anyone, so I wouldn't let anyone get close to me. I withdrew into myself and made myself my stronghold.

I didn't want anything from anyone. I didn't take help from anyone because I didn't want to feel indebted to anyone. I didn't even want anything from God for the same reason. I wanted to do everything on my own, for myself, and do it my own way. I felt that if I relied on God for help, I'd have to give up my independence, and parts of my life to repay Him for that help.

For more than three decades, I fought against the tide, forging my way through life without leaning on Christ for help. Then, for the next several years, the walls I'd built, the strongholds I'd put together, began to crumble. Slowly at first, just chipped away at. But when Amanda was killed, those walls came down like the wall at Jericho, and my strongholds were reduced to rubble.

It was then I realized that everything I'd counted as gain, everything I'd identified as important, was temporary and could be taken in an instant. And that's when I knew that without Christ nothing really matters. He broke down my walls so that I could move forward and keep living after we lost Amanda. That was only possible by reaching out to take His hand that He had been offering me all my life.

Now, I'm so much happier, so less troubled, and so much more at peace. Those walls I'd constructed to protect myself were more like a prison and I didn't even realize it. Without them, I'm so much more at peace depending on Jesus Christ and His promise of Salvation.

So cry out to Jesus, let Him be your rock and tear down your walls. That's real freedom, and that's the key to peace in this life.

If you don't know Jesus as your personal savior, if you're missing the faith, hope, and love written about here, if you want the peace that we as Christians have in our lives, please visit our Got Jesus? page for step-by-step instructions on how to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.

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