I sat in my car waiting for my walking partner to show up. Yes, I said walking partner because that is what I became over the summer. My days of running were so few that walking is about all I can do right now.
How did I get here? Wasn’t I last year running 9 – 10 miles on the weekends getting ready for a half marathon? What happened? I know what happened; I stopped being intentional. I met my goal and decided it was ok to slow down; take a break. One week became a month. One month became six. Six months have become a year. My fitness level deteroriated.
You know, my spiritual walk can be no different. I may have a season where I am connecting with God, allowing Him to stretch me and take me to new places in our walk. Maybe I have followed the advice of Eleanor Roosevelt “Do one scary thing every day”. By faith, I’m going for it.
Then, unintentionally, I start to slow down. I back off on my time with Him. I connect less with those who are passionate about Him. I say “maybe later” to being stretched by Him and I begin to slip.
This weekend, Greg and I got in a fight. It really wasn’t about anything important; you know it’s those dumb things that turn into even dumber things. But as I laid in my bed and wondered why I had blown up and gotten so upset, I realized it was becaues of fear. Fear of sliding backwards. Fear of becoming complacent. Fear of loosing our passion for Him.
For years my pastor, Kelvin Smith said “Life will be hard. The devil will attack. But DON’T retreat. When life gets hard, don’t retreat!”
That is exactly what the Lord is telling the Israelites in Ezekiel 33:12 – 16:
“Son of man, give your people this message: The righteous behavior of righteous people will not save them if they turn to sin, nor will the wicked behavior of wicked people destroy them if they repent and turn from their sins. When I tell righteous people that they will live, but then they sin, expecting their past righteousness to save them, then none of their righteous acts will be remembered. I will destroy them for their sins. And suppose I tell some wicked people that they will surely die, but then they turn from their sins and do what is just and right. For instance, they might give back a debtor’s security, return what they have stolen, and obey my life-giving laws, no longer doing what is evil. If they do this, then they will surely live and not die. None of their past sins will be brought up again, for they have done what is just and right, and they will surely live.”
God is saying it’s not your past righteousness that will save you (or keep you in right standing with Him). In other words, it’s not the way that you started this race called life, it is how we finish that counts!
Paul encourages us that we must press on. We need to run our race. Not walk. Not skip. Not dwaddle. We have to stay engaged. We have to stay focused on the whole reason we are on this planet. Each one of us has to be responsible for our own personal revival in our lives; no one can pursue God for us, we have to run hard after Him on our own.
How do we do it? I get dry. I get worn out with life. I get tired. What can I do when I’m there? Get in a small group. Nothing helps fire me up to pursue Jesus than when I am around others who are running hard after Him. Find an accountability partner. Ask them to ask you the hard questions; to push you to keep going. Most of all, cry out to Jesus.
Last Wednesday, I was getting ready to have my time with Jesus. Same chair. Same Bible. Same journal. I thought, “I NEED MORE!” So, I turned on my worship music and began to sing and dance in my living room. Arms in the air. Voice crying out in desperation. I needed Him SO BAD! Finally, I ended on the floor; arms spread out. As I told Him how much I loved Him and how terribly I need Him, I realized the position I was in. The same position He was in while He died for me. The same position He wants me in; a position of surrender.
Friends, life is hard. But He is life. He is truly all we need and when we surrender to Him; when we completely empty ourselves of all the junk we are trying to fill our hearts with, that is when He can truly fill us up. We can only be filled when we are empty of ourselves.