Out Of The Running

godgiven

It’s been a year, and I vividly recall the light-hearted conversation that turned to dreaming and everything from gluten-free foods to writing and fashion. There we sat, two thirty-somethings, coffee in hand at Starbucks. My friend, Sarah B. —she’s something. She is courageous and funny and easy to enjoy. Yet, what seemed to wrap up our chat that day was this: as we discussed the dynamic among women — ambition, insecurity, feeling unimportant—all the feels — she shared something with me.

In the moment, when plagued by jealously, insecurity, or the temptation to compete or compare, a friend of Sarah’s speaks this declaration out loud—she lifts up her hand (kind of like a witness in court…think: I solemnly swear ;)) and says,

“I take myself out of the running for…”

I couldn’t have imagined how this phrase, so simple, would weave itself into conversations and temptations over the coming months. God was up to some stitching, and the degree of detail would leave my heart feeling a little pricked.

Most of us are familiar with some form of the following scripture, taken from Hebrews 12, which refers to a long-distance race, with Jesus as our example…

“…to strip off every unnecessary weight and the sin which so easily and cleverly entangles us, let us run with endurance and active persistence the race that is set before us [looking away from all that will distract us and] focusing our eyes on Jesus…”

{verses 1,2 AMP}

The Message version puts in plainly—

“study how Jesus did it…how he entered into this all-out match against sin, and finished!”

Friends, this is what I see…

Many of us live our lives out of a reaction to what others do, might do, or what they might think of us. Motivated by envy, we fill our fists with “worried work,” trying to control what we can, sometimes  including our husbands and children. We look to and seek out the highly esteemed in our groups, schools, even our churches. We rub shoulders with those that will reward our constant striving, and place us in preferred positions—again, in an effort to gain some control.

On the outside, these are the women whose lives are “put together.” They pour themselves out, devoting their energies towards creating a good life, one that’s blessed and secure. What I’ve noticed is that their intentions are often good, but they are constantly frazzled and exhausted. They are overcommitted and stressed. They serve in a lot of positions, but do not understand how to be still with Jesus. So, they become frustrated, impatient, obsessed with planning and scheduling, annoyed at their husbands and children, defensive, and competitive, and they cope by spinning their wheels even more, rather than devoting energy toward understanding their feelings and emotions and working through conflict.

As moms, I’m afraid that some of us may be modeling a harried, self-seeking, self-exalting life to our children when we live this way. I also believe that this type of life pins us against each other, often resulting in a lack of compassion and support.

Ecclesiastes 4: 4-6 explains that this “work” is like spitting into the wind. It accomplishes nothing. Even so, many still continue to strive for what they’ve come to crave.

What do you believe is your God-given gift? What has God shown you or developed in you to contribute to His kingdom?

[Don’t answer quickly…think on this. Ask God to speak to you]

I’ll share mine. It’s to encourage—to uplift–others.

Think about threading a needle. I laughed when I looked this up, because according to sewing 101, you have to have “eagle eyes” to do it right. You have to pick the right thread, and you have to know how much thread to reel off in length. Admittedly, I have no desire to even know how to do this, yet I remain fascinated by the process.

I believe that God is meticulous in designing our hearts. Without a doubt, HE has the eyes to see, so when it comes to threading, He is ever intentional with how He works and weaves. Planted there, along with unique gifts purposed to bring Him glory, is the need, sewn in, for solitude and reflection…quietness and stillness. It is in the very fabric of our being, and our children’s.

For me to be like Christ, to share my gift of giving encouragement and comfort like Him, I have to take myself out of the running: to let go of the temporary gains and transfer my energies to things with eternal value. Only then may I encourage and love from a pure heart. Only then may I drop out of a race geared toward winning or being better or gaining recognition.

“If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care—then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand. Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself.”

[Philippians 2: 1-7, the message].

I invite you to reflect today, to consider where your energies are and how you feel. Do you feel weighed down? Distracted? Absent-minded? Does God feel distant? What motivates you?

Friends, when you return to Him, in a moment of quietness and rest, you are embraced. Be honest there. With confident trust, you may regain strength.

“So here I am in the place of worship, eyes open, drinking in your strength and glory. In your generous love I am really living at last! My lips brim praises like fountains. I bless you every time I take a breath; My arms wave like banners of praise to you.” [Psalm 63, the message]

Summer Pendley

Hi there 🙂 I'm Summer, daughter of Jesus...saved, restored, & known by Him. I've been married to my love, Jason, for 15 years, and am a happy mommy to a son, Noah, and daughter, Sailer. I love quiet mornings, coffee, listening to music, reading, running, and dreaming 😉 I'm passionate about simple things, and making time to encourage and love others well. The intentionality of Jesus, in pursuing me, hemming me in, gathering the ruins of my life, and lavishing grace over me overwhelms me daily. You'll find me here, in story after story of Him rescuing me, loving me, teaching me, and drawing me into worship. In honesty, I'll share of the emotional and psychological strains of my life & how Jesus continues to reclaim & rebuild, from the inside out. Let me always speak of His faithfulness & goodness...so that you will know that He is good.

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4 Comments

  1. Thank you so much for this. I needed it. Oh, how I needed to read this.

    Reply
    • Teresa, thank you. Praying for you, dear 🙂

      Reply
  2. Exactly what I’ve been going through the last couple of years. I know what my God-given talent is but haven’t been able to fully use it due to having to make an income doing something else that has been important and educational but not what I believe is God’s plan for my life. I also tend to take on too much because I want to do it all and believe that I can do all the things I need to do and want to do but this is not the reality and it leaves me overwhelmed and frustrated every single day. Just yesterday, God has answered a prayer in getting me out of that work and lightened my burden but now I am in need of an income and praying that I can earn income doing what I long to do. Prayers, please, that God will answer my prayer and be my Provider.

    Reply
    • Sherry, thank you so much for your honesty. You speak for so many. I celebrate with you that God is moving and relieving you of some of that burden…yet, I know that it opens up an area where trust may be difficult. To encourage you, I’d say, enter in to that scary place and just TRUST. Every hour…every minute if you have to. I have already been praying for you. Everything will be okay…trusting Him with you. He is ever-faithful, and He loves you immensely!

      Reply

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