Posted by: Erica | February 22, 2010

Keep Your Eyes on the Prize

Last night Ansley was trying to get me to race her around the living room, but I wasn’t wanting to, “Come on Mom!  Do you love ice cream?”  “I like ice cream, but I can’t really eat it anymore,” I replied.  “Do you love coffee?” “Yes, I love coffee,”  I answered.  “Well, there’s coffee at the finish line!”  Poor, innocent child.  One day she’ll learn that coffee at the starting line is a better motivator. 

That hard truth is, though, that sometimes the “good race” we run with God works just like this.  It would be so much easier if we could always see the plan He has in mind at the beginning of our struggle, instead of having to endure the trial and then look back on what He accomplished through it.  Wouldn’t we have much more courage, energy, patience….that little extra bit of something we feel we need to actually run the race in the first place?  It doesn’t always work this way.  Sometimes we have to rely on our training and run the best we can without much coaching from above.

Yesterday the sermon at church was on the book of Esther.  Perfect.  Esther’s story is about how living out the normal circumstances in her life brought her to a point of great challenge–a matter of life or death for herself and many people.  The choices she made were decided upon without any direct advice from the Lord.  In fact, this is the one and only book in the Bible in which God is not mentioned.  The famous quote from this passage is a question put to her at the pivotal point in the crisis:  “Who knows, perhaps you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”  (Esther 4:14, NKJV).  Essentially:  “How do you know that God hasn’t been behind the scenes arranging everything in your life to take place the way it has so that you could be right her at this time to take this risk?”  Of course, we know that He did just that.  But, at the time, I’m sure the question in the back of Esther’s mind was, “How do you know that He didn’t?” 

We have to have faith, sometimes an incredible amount.  I’m thankful that God has given me enough to know that my life and my last year has been about more than what it seems on the surface.  Martin lost his job due to the financial recession.  We had to move far away from people who I love to a place that I would never have picked to live.  I had to walk away from job security, a church that I loved, and a ministry I felt successful at.  We lost our home and all the equity we had in that investment.  We became more financially burdened by the cost of moving.  Once here, I was harassed by a co-worker at my new job and became unexpectantly unemployed.  And, it looks like I am facing another move next month because our current landlords have been fraudulent in disclosing issues with our heating unit.  But, I fully believe there is a blessing to come from this. 

This morning I was listening to a Christian radio station.  The “postive thought of the day” was this:  “Sometimes our greatest success in life comes one step after our greatest failure.”  Maybe last week when I began sharing the reality of my current situation I pushed the self-destruct button on my credibility, on my pride.  But, maybe that’s something that more Christians should be willing to do.  Following the positive thought quote, the song “The Lost Get Found,” by Britt Nicole, came on the radio.  Here are the opening lyrics:

“Hello my friend, I remember when you were
So alive with your wide eyes
Then the light that you had in your heart was stolen
Now you say that it ain’t worth stayin’
You wanna run but you’re hesitatin’, I’m talkin’ to me

Don’t let your lights go down
Don’t let your fire burn out
‘Cause somewhere
Somebody needs a reason to believe

Why don’t you rise up now?
Don’t be afraid to stand out
That’s how the lost get found
The lost get found

So when you get the chance, are you gonna take it?
There’s a really big world at your fingertips
And you know you have the chance to change it”

Yes, writing gives me personal satisfaction.  That’s true.  But, I believe that God places dreams in our hearts that will be used for His glory.  And, I think that I’ve finally reached a point in my faith to not be afraid to stand out in order to reach someone, even if it means forsaking my pride.  There’s a lot of gray in life, isn’t there?  I think that our youth are a generation living in gray–the blending of the black and white from our grandparent’s time and the colorful years our parents witnessed.  If I can testify about the praises in my life, I should be willing to testify about the pitfalls and how He brings me out of them.  That’s the race I know I’m in.  I may arrive completely exhausted, but I am betting there’s coffee at the finish line.

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