Friday, February 14, 2014

on gathering and running your race

So there is this place I like to imagine. A place where the body of Christ works together in harmony as Jesus intended. A place where we take care of our own and reach out to the lonely and the forgotten. Where we laugh deep, cry hard, and savor often. It’s called community. And the Lord has been speaking to me about the importance of it lately-how it cannot be replaced or faked.

Community is of the utmost importance when walking with Christ. We need each other. I am an extrovert. I crave to be around people and thrive in one-on-one quality time spent with those whom I love. It energizes me and gives me the strength I need to push through and keep on keepin’ on. And yet sometimes, I want to go it alone. I don’t want to need anyone. I am strong and capable on my own. Until I’m not.  As believers, and especially as women, we have to remember the importance of gathering together. Of encouraging one another towards the pursuit of our dreams and holiness. If not, how will we move forward outside of our own striving?

Last weekend, a couple friends and I sat down to watch the simulcast of a women’s conference called IF: Gathering. The premise was a simple question: “If God is real, then what?” How do we live if God is who He says He is? Should our lives look any different if we say we believe the Bible is true and infallible? I sure hope so. Many amazing women shared during this conference, but one woman truly stood out to me. Her name is Bianca Olthoff, and she is a speaker, blogger, and activist for the A21 Campaign, which fights human trafficking in various countries worldwide. The focus Scripture for the weekend was Hebrews 12:1-2, which says

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.

Y’all know I love to run. Yes, I’m so slow that I should call it jogging, but that’s beside the point. These verses in Hebrews give us the push we need to keep going. We are not alone. And the fight is worth it. We need each other, and we need Christ. How else are we going to win the prize?

I’ll leave y’all with  an excerpt from Bianca’s closing prayer.

We are whole-heartedly devoted to the purpose and calling God made for us and we have no intention of letting the world define us because we know who we are:
Humble fighters, dedicated runners, and strong and mighty servants of the living God.

In Christ we are courageous.
In Christ we are confident.
Our heart is steadfast.
Our purpose is immovable.
We are always abounding in the work of the Lord.
And our potential is unlimited because the limitless God lives within us.

We will run.

The cross before us, the world is behind us.
We’ll never turn back.
We’ll never give up.
We’ll never settle.
We’ll never stop short.
We will press towards the mark for the prize that is already ours.

For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, neither height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation shall be able to separate us from our God.

And if our God is for us, who in HELL can be against us?

We will run.

Read the whole prayer here.

Grace and peace to you, friends. 

P.S. Happy Valentine's Day. :)

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