"One more thing, friends: Pray for us. Pray that the Master’s Word will simply take off and race through the country to a groundswell of response, just as it did among you. And pray that we’ll be rescued from these scoundrels who are trying to do us in." (2 Thessalonians 3:1-2MSG)
I just got back from a run with my middle son. The human part of my brain says, "you can't do this, you weren't made for this, stop wasting your time. You will never be good enough to keep up with your son. Aren't you lucky he possesses so much patience that he is able to stick with you through this absurd phase of yours?" I read back over those words and I can't believe that I talk to myself like that. I would never say such things aloud, even to my worst enemy (if I had one, which I don't).
Maybe that isn't the human part of my brain. Maybe that's Satan, the evil one or the scoundrel that Paul is describing. Maybe that's my negative self talk that I am slowly defeating with every single run. Because you know what? I know that God gives me strength. I know that I can lean on God to carry me through and provide the endurance that I need to just keep going. And when I run with my baby? I can feel my heart filling up. I can feel the feelings that I work so hard to suppress all the time because what if I offend someone? What if I hurt someone's feelings or let them down? What if I'm just not enough no matter how hard I try? I tell myself that my feelings are wrong and that I have no right to feel them because I am just not that important and I don't know if that's true or not true but it doesn't matter. Because true or not, God cares. He wants to hear about it. And I need to admit them to him so that I can work through them.
And maybe none of that is really what Paul meant when he said those words so beautifully so many years ago. But when I see words like "race" and "countryside" within the verse, I can't help but think of those runs and all the parallels just waiting to be discovered. And my mind jumps on this crazy train of thought and you've seen where it takes me. Those are my real feelings.
"I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength." (Philippians 4:13)
And those are God's real words. They are meant for me. I can feel them coursing through me. And I think of them over and over again every time I go for a run with my thirteen year old baby boy. I get the pleasure of seeing Jesus reflected back to me in his face as he cheers me on and encourages me every step of the way, as he cares for my heart and watches out for my endurance by asking if I need a break. He is being Jesus with skin on for me and is being this amazing example. And I have to wonder if maybe there is some little thing that I've done right to have this awesome kid in my life?
And look at this:
"But the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one. And we are confident in the Lord that you are doing and will continue to do the things we commanded you." (2 Thessalonians 3:3-4NLT)
With every step that I took today, especially as I was striving to finish the last few feet of our path with my son silently cheering me on, I prayed these words in my head. I reminded myself that God is my strength. He is faithful. He will carry me through. The evil one's words are lies that I don't need to believe because God made me strong and capable and faithful. He gave me this unwavering desire to get done whatever I put my mind to. He made me this way. And while I don't always see the value in that, I can see it clearly when I am running behind my son. Because it feels like everything is clearer when I am out there with him in the silence of the countryside.
And I can't help but think that all of those runs are like a symbol for life. How often do we run, run, run until we collapse as moms? We run up and down the stairs getting things done for our kids and our husbands. We find lost things. We fix broken toys and broken hearts and broken knees (the skin, not the bones. I don't have the training for bone repair ;) ). We run to the library to return forgotten books and run to the store to get more milk or forgotten soap. But stuff isn't all we forget. We often forget ourselves in the process.
And there's a parallel in running for that as well. If I forget myself too long on a run, I will collapse because I don't have the proper amount of oxygen getting to my brain or the right amount of water coursing through my body to keep things going. It's the same in our lives. If we forget ourselves too long, we will collapse from exhaustion and be useless to those around us. We must, must, must take care of ourselves too.
And I don't even know how far I have strayed from the original verses at this point, but this is where I feel Jesus leading and this is where I must go! There's a parallel to the runs there too. When I am running with my baby, the world is quieter. I can hear Jesus easier because there is nothing else and no one else screaming for my attention. I need more of that, more of the quiet in my life. I need to purposely carve out that time because I will never stumble into it. I must allow Jesus to lead me there. Am I the only one that feels this? I know that I can't be.
And that brings us to the final verse for today:
"May the Lord lead your hearts into a full understanding and expression of the love of God and the patient endurance that comes from Christ." (2 Thessalonians 3:5NLT)
So here's the deal. This is what I am desperately screaming out to God for today, not only for myself but for all of my family, all of my friends, and all of the people who read these words today. I pray that we can find our patient endurance and that we can fully allow God to take control of our hearts as we soak up the "full understanding and expression of the love of God" that Paul is describing in this verse. These are the vital components to the lives we are searching for- full understanding and acceptance of God's unending love and patient endurance in our lives. I pray that we can see us as God sees us. His creations, fearfully and wonderfully made.
Be blessed today and don't forget to be a blessing!