Week 9 marked the first official week of marathon training. Before this we were in "pre-training". So now everyone who is running the Chicago marathon, or a marathon on the same date, is in training. There's excitement in the air about it.
Through my fundraising I won two free tickets to see the Spirit of the Marathon 2 movie. I went to see it with my husband, and some members of the team. This movie was incredibly inspiring and followed several runners along their journey to the marathon. There were a few where it was their first marathon. It was exciting, but also scary. God calls us to do the unexpected, to take those leaps of faith that seem huge to us, but in the reality of time are really just a blip on the screen of life.
I've been neglecting finishing this blog. I think because I struggle with perfectionism, but also of admitting failure. I finished the book "Anything" and I feel like I am not even silly putty, let alone clay that God can mold. On the train home I passed a sign that said "Jesus is the way to heaven". I know this on a spiritual level, but deep down, do I believe it? Or do I feel I need to be perfect for it to apply? If I feel like God can't even use me until I'm perfect, then god will never use me, because I will never BE perfect. None of us will be until we are made perfect in His image in heaven. A good friend, Erin, reminded me that God uses us although we may not feel we are worthy. It is through our own struggles, perhaps, that our faith is demonstrated to those around us. That can create change on a large scale. Someone may be reading my words now and also feel inadequate, as I do, and feel empowered to still do God's work.
I am not a baker, but because I don't like to come empty handed to thanksgiving or church pot lucks, I have become proficient at baking exactly one pie that I know is perfect -- my chocolate pecan pie - after all, since its the only pie I ever make, how can it not be perfect? I've had time to realize which ingredients are necessary and which I could use less of. How long it needs in the oven and how to protect the edges. I can mix the ingredients with my eyes closed. You get the picture.
Well recently my family joined a CSA (community supported agriculture) and you don't get a choice of what you get in the basket each week. I received a bunch of what looked like red celery. It turns out it was rhubarb. I don't know what else to possibly do with rhubarb other than make a pie (I've heard of rhubarb pie). So I googled and found a nice, simple recipe for rhubarb pie. I had no clue how thick to cut the rhubarb or how to treat it, so of course I queried my Facebook friends. However I wanted to get the pie started, so I just winged it and opened up the oven and in the pie went.
After the pie had been baking for 45 minutes, I heard back from one of my friends that I was supposed to peel the rhubarb and sauté it before baking. Or else the pie would taste like celery pie.
I wanted to turn off the oven and throw that pie out. But my husband encouraged me to just wait and see what happened.
And do you know what? That pie came out perfect! People had seconds and there was no pie left. It reminded me that God can make beautiful things out of our messes.
Sometimes I feel as messed up as that pie. But God uses broken things and broken people. He can still use me,even though in my mind I'm broken and far from perfect. Through this mess beauty can live, and he is working through all of us as well, all the time, sometimes in big ways, sometimes behind the scenes.
We were created to fail. Because it’s in our failure that we see our need for Jesus, the One who never fails. God is there to take away my sin, to help me forgive myself, and as a reminder that every day is full of new mercies.
"Failure is an opportunity for grace, to give it to others and receive it for ourselves. When I fail, it’s the perfect time to fall into Him." Lysa Tykherst
The process of giving up everything is difficult. It is not something we can ever be perfect at, we are constantly changing and evolving, but if our hearts are in it, if our desire is to give God the glory, then it all counts as good. Giving up everything we are trading in our wants for His. And through this offering, we will be blessed.
Recently I witnessed the unlimited power of God and just how much prayer can do. One of my best friends was given a frightening, life-threatening diagnosis. She reached out for prayer. She had to endure a week of waiting after she had a second round of tests. I prayed, my friends and family prayed, my church prayed, her friends and family prayed. There was a lot of prayer going on. I asked her what the best case scenario would be. She said a false positive. That's what I prayed for, but deep down I wasn't sure such a prayer could be answered. I didn't know how often these things happen. But I prayed, having faith that God would work it all out the way He does. But I have to say, I didn't expect to hear, a week later, that my friend was given a clean bill of health, having to retest in 3 months. God is so good. My spiritual mother, Karyl, said to me after I told her I didn't think it would happen, that I may not have known, but she did. She knew that God was capable of amazing miracles.
I want my faith to be as large as that. I don't want doubt to creep into my prayers. Jennie Allen says that all sin comes from unbelief. We don't think God will work a situation out, so we take things into our own hands. Our needs aren't getting met, so we search outside of ourselves. If we only take the plunge, jump off that cliff, hand all of our needs and desires over to god and say "here" and actually TRUST him with our lives, our lives will be God-shaped and will not look anything like what we might have imagined for ourselves. They may be even better.
In Week 11 I ran my second half marathon (full race report blog will be posted separately). One thing I heard from those around me and in my own head was "You've got this." I kept changing it in my head to "God's got this." However my spirit was reluctant to embrace that. I don't know why. There was that doubt again, creeping in. God can take whatever we need him to from us and make us stronger, we can get through things with Him. But we have to first give it over to him. All of it. And I think as a society built on accomplishments, on pride, it's hard to do that. To give God all the glory. To trust that he will have our backs.
But I remind myself that I am in process. And that is good enough.
“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7)