Running Again

Running Again

(Or, “How the Worst Itch Ever Reminded me of the Best Fix of All”)

The itch was so bad I could barely stand it.

There I was, surrounded by the beauty of a fresh sunrise, sidewalk-jogging past a serene waterway and a meticulously trimmed golf course, and all I could think of was the fire under my skin.

It was my first time running in a while, and based on past experience, I knew exactly what this was: my blood vessels overheating because they simply weren’t used to that kind of throughput. The sensory result? Itch, itch, itch, itch, itch.

What made it worse was the fact that I knew a surefire solution that could stop the discomfort. I knew there was one simple action I could take that would completely stop the agony and return me to sanity: quit.

If I just stopped running, gave up on the whole thing and returned to a leisurely pace, the itching in my legs would go away.

Have you ever been there? Maybe not with jogging or physical activity, but have you ever been in a spot where you were in so much discomfort, so much pain even, that it seemed like quitting was your only option to make it go away?

The whole thing reminds me of a passage from a letter written by the Apostle Paul to a group of Christians in the city of Galatia. He knew that following Jesus in their day –as in ours– definitely brought with it an element of discomfort. Yet, this seasoned saint also knew that when it comes to our walk with Christ, the prize is always worth the pain. Look at what he reminded them…

“So we must not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up.  (Galatians 6:9)

There it is, a simple reminder with staggeringly powerful implications: don’t give up.

When the discomfort threatens to derail you, don’t give up.

When the struggle feels like it will sink you, don’t give up.

When the pain eclipses your perspective, forget about what you feel, and simply remember to DO this: Don’t. Give. Up.

It may seem like quitting is the only option to deal with the pain, but that would mean ditching the prize. It may feel like stopping is the only way to survive, but failing to finish would mean relinquishing the reward.

You see, in that itch-filled moment on the jogging trail, I knew that quitting might fix the discomfort, but I would have surrendered the satisfaction of a job well done. I also knew that if I kept at it, not only would the itch eventually fade away, but in its place would be the power of better blood flow and the pride of an accomplishment, a much better “fix” indeed.

So, what did I do that day? I kept going until I hit my goal.

Where do YOU need to keep going today?

Maybe you have a relationship that’s seen better days, but don’t give up.

Maybe there’s a workplace conflict you can’t seem to resolve, but don’t give up.

Maybe it’s a habit or sin or addiction that feels impossible to break, but whatever it is: Don’t. Give. Up!

If you’ll keep on pressing forward, I can’t promise your circumstance will improve right away, but I can guarantee you’ll receive a breakthrough in the one place that matters most…

Your heart.

–Pastor Phillip

Wisdom, Stature, and Favor (Luke 2:52)

And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and with people.  (Luke 2:52)

Would you increase in your stature and standing in the world?  Would you maximize and take advantage of every opportunity to grow stronger in body, mind and spirit?

Seek God’s wisdom, and the stature will follow.

Would you grow more highly favored by the people around you?  Would you be looked on with deference and high regard by those who cross your path?

Receive and rest in the incredible favor of God that you have in Christ, and the confidence that comes from walking in God’s favor will produce an incredible result.

It will cause others to favor you, too.

–Pastor Phillip

Maybe That Barrier is Shorter Than it Looks

Concrete is a bear to get through.

Maybe That Barrier is Shorter Than it Looks

I can hear the sound of the surf on the other side.  I can smell the salt and feel the sand under my toes but my journey has been blocked.

I can see the other side through a little drainage tube cut into the concrete.  It’s certainly nothing I could slip through, but it’s just enough to torment me with thoughts of what great things might be waiting for me on the other side if I could just get past this barrier that’s holding back my progress.

This is not a new obstacle.  The weathered face of the concrete wall tells me it’s been here for quite some time.  The sea has tried to have its way with it, but the barrier has resisted all attempts to coerce it to move.

Do you ever feel that way in life?

Maybe for you it’s a fear or a toxic way of thinking.  Maybe it’s a sin or bad habit that you just can’t let go of — or a sickness that won’t let go of you.

Maybe it’s a person at school whose attitude is dragging you down or a person at work who is holding you back.

Maybe it’s a problem in your family.

We all go through seasons where it seems like we’re up against a wall, a barrier that seems insurmountable.  It feels like it’s too high to climb, to wide to bypass and too thick to push through.  We feel trapped and frustrated, discouraged and alone, and it’s tempting to simply give up, sit down, and resign ourselves to the fact that our progress is finished and this is all our life is ever going to be.

But you don’t have to live that way!

Look at what the Psalmist David writes about how he overcomes the obstacles in his path: “For by you I can run against a troop, and by my God I can leap over a wall.” -Psalm 18:29

David had huge obstacles in his life.  He was the runt of his family.  He was in a dead-end job as a shepherd.  Even when God chose Him to be the future king of Israel, David spent many of next few years running for his life.  His wife was taken from him and given to another.  His sons rebelled against him and took his kingdom away.  His own sin brought great pain into his life.  Yet, despite all the hardship David went through, he knew a powerful truth about barriers.

Every obstacle is short when it’s put next to God, and the bigger the barrier, the greater His glory when He helps you overcome.

No matter what you are facing in your life, if you’re in Christ then God is with you and God is for you and He is able to strengthen you in your hour of need.  He is able to give you the power to overcome any barrier, any obstacle, any stronghold in your life, and not only is He able, but He’s willing because He loves you!

May you trust in the strength of the Lord as you face barriers in your life, and when He helps you overcome them, may you never forget to look back and see how far you’ve come.

You’ll find that compared to Jesus, that barrier was far shorter than it looked.


Maybe That Barrier 2

Jesus is Calling You Forward to Freedom

Do you ever feel “the darkness” trying to drag you back?

“For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. For, “Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay; but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.” But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.” -Hebrews 10:36-39

There is a dark destruction that yearns to swallow the children of God.  It follows close behind, nipping at our heels and calling to our minds, “Turn back!  The Way is hard.  The road is long.  The cause is hopeless and you are not qualified for it, anyway.

Oh my friend, do not listen to it!

Those who listen to the darkness will be consumed by it.  Those who shrink back from the call of Christ will find themselves sucked in to the darkness because of their unbelief.

The Way of Jesus is forward, always forward.

We must trust Him not only with our minds and not only with our hearts, but with our steps.  When we do this, we are assured a great salvation that will make every step of hardship seem like nothing in comparison.

Walk on.

Hold fast.

Stay strong.

Don’t look or shrink back, and watch as God does wonders in your life for His glory and your joy.

Remember, the wondrous life is not found along the path of the past, but on the road ahead.