Friday, August 14, 2015

Bring It

Since it is my birthday today, I thought I'd take a little bit of time and do something that I love to do, write about things!

This morning I woke up at 4:45 to prepare for my 16 mile training run.  I ate some breakfast and spent some time filling my mind with The Word.  I've not been so great about spending time with God lately outside of running, so I've been trying to be more diligent about making time in the morning.  

My word of the year has been steadfast and I needed a reminder for what that looks like so I pulled up 2 Peter 1:3-11

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 

This was exactly what I needed to read before heading out on a 16 mile run.  Running for water allows me to partake in divine nature.  I’m not doing this because I want to run another marathon, I'm doing this because I want to provide water for people I'll likely never meet because it is a way that I can love them.    I never thought running would be a calling for me, but here I am.

I headed out around 6am and was running along enjoying the sunrise.  

Around mile 5 I heard "on your left" from behind me.  This is pretty typical to hear on the trail from a bicycler coming from behind giving warning that they will be zooming past shortly.  I kept waiting for a bike to go past me but it was taking a lot longer than it should have so I turned to check things out and there, right next to me, was a smiling and familiar face.  One of my friends pulled herself out of her nice, comfy bed early in the morning to come bike along with me for a few miles as I ran.  It was such a blessing to have her with me and talk about all the work that God is doing with Team World Vision this year.  It made me even more excited to be running...maybe a little bit too excited because those 6 miles she rode along with me were quite a bit faster than all the others.

I was on my own for the next 4.5 miles and my feet, knees and hips were starting to feel the effects of carrying my body for the last 11.5 miles.  Around mile 12 I remembered that I had loaded a couple of messages on my phone to listen to when things started to get tough.  I had gone back through the Renovatus Church archives to find some Jonathan Martin messages that I hadn't listened to yet.   I kind of just did random selection based on the titles and the first one I decided to listen to was called
Blessed, Broken and Given.  I honestly couldn't have picked a better message to listen to at that point in time, it was so perfect.

Since Jonathan left Renovatus and took some time away from pastoring to write, I have been greatly missing his words.  I never really understood just how much God loved me until I heard him speak, so going back to listen to some of his old messages felt a bit like going home.

This particular message was about Matthew 14, where Jesus feeds the 5,000.

Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick. Now when it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves.”But Jesus said, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” They said to him, “We have only five loaves here and two fish.” And he said, “Bring them here to me.” Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass, and taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over. And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.  (Matthew 14:13-21)

I've always viewed this story as a miracle story, and certainly it is, but it is so much more than that.  It is a story that shows us how God can use us, as broken and imperfect as we are, if we are just willing to give Him what we have.  The boy only had five loaves of bread and two fish.  It wasn't big.  It wasn't fancy.  It wasn't going to feed 5 to 20 thousand people, but still, he brought what he had to Jesus. 

I started to think about how often I feel so inadequate to be doing what I do.  I'm not made to run.  I'm big and I’m slow and moving 250 pounds mile after mile hurts like hell.  It is really difficult for me, someone who likes to do things I’m naturally good at, to consistently partake in an activity that I am pretty much terrible at compared to most.  It would have been easy for me to come up with a large list of reasons why I couldn't run a marathon with Team World Vision.  However, I decided to simply bring my non-typical runners body to Jesus because I trusted that he could use it.

Last year I knew I didn't have what it took to finish a marathon in six hours, but I didn't need it because He provided it for me.  Just like last year, I know based on my training that I still don't have what it takes, but I'm hopeful that he'll give me what I need to get there again.  But it doesn't stop there.

God wouldn't be able to use what I offered him unless other people offered something as well.  Every time someone gets behind the vision of ending the water crisis in Africa, they do the exact same thing.  $50 feels so small when you look at the number of people that are lacking access to clean water, but when people bring Him what they have, he blesses it and multiplies it. 

Just like the loaves and fish, not only did Jesus bless me, but he also multiplied what I had.  The crowd needed food and Jesus gave it to them.  I had been praying for community for years, it was something I needed, and that is exactly what I found with Team World Vision.  This team has become like family to me.  I love the people I get to do this with so much.  I love the people that believe in this mission and bring what they have, physically and financially.  It is a really beautiful thing.

So as I reflect back on the last year and look forward to the future, I am thankful that God can use us, even when we are broken and imperfect.  I want to challenge you to bring Jesus what you have.  You don't have to have everything all figured out.  You don't have to be perfect.  You don't have to have all the answers.  You just have to be you, fully surrendered,  and He'll take care of the rest.  Don't let fear stop you.  I missed out on so much for so long because I was too afraid to offer what I had.

Thanks for sticking with me and reading my infrequent posts!  Bring It!  You won't regret it.