- Running Shoes On: Check
- Ready to Run: Check
- Running Route: Unknown
There’s a problem with this checklist, and it’s not the unknown running route. It’s not a bad thing to run if you are exercising or training for a marathon. (There are probably some other good reasons to run as well.) However, it’s when you think about running or actually end up trying to run from where God is calling you to be that an issue arises.
Maybe you feel as though things have gotten too hard for you to handle, the last thing you feel is qualified to be where God called you to be, or perhaps you have just been walking in your purpose so long that you think you want a change (or at least some time to sample what it’s like to do something different) even though God hasn’t approved such a move for you at this time.
Trust me, I get it. I have been in the midst of assignments God has given me and in the midst of operating in the purpose He designated for me when I made lists of other things I could be doing that seemed like they would make me happier, less stressed, give me what I felt I was missing, and still honor God. (Even though I know better, I was basically trying to redefine my purpose without God’s approval or guidance, create my version of the blueprint, and then propose/pitch it to God out of some kind of courtesy. That’s not how things work.)
Every time I thought about running from my calling, God caught me and redirected me. For example, God used other people’s testimonies as well as praying friends and family to encourage me. God also used what seemed like random situations (but really were divine interventions perfectly timed by God) to remind me of the larger impact associated with the work that I was doing (which God called and purposed me to do). God knew what I needed to hear or see for me to turn right back around and continue in my purpose.
During all of those times where I slipped on my running shoes and was tempted to use them for something other than exercise, here is what I learned:
- Thoughts of running often came when confronted with (uncomfortable) opportunities to grow. I have said it before, but growth can be really uncomfortable. As a part of growth, God will work with you to address your weaknesses and work with you to identify the root causes of unhealthy patterns that are stunting your growth. The thought of being vulnerable for some is scary, and the thought of having to address things that you worked so hard to avoid, work around, and ignore isn’t exactly most people’s idea of a good time. There is good news. God loves you so much that He wants the absolute best for you. Your growth is actually a positive journey that allows you to address some things in your life that are hindering you from moving forward and experiencing more. God is not trying to set you up in a negative way. You just can’t skip over the growth process and run to something new expecting that old (unaddressed) habits and (unaddressed) issues won’t follow you. A crack in a foundation needs to be addressed before anything else can be put on it, and also needs to be addressed to sustain what already exists on the foundation. Embrace the growth! Get an accountability partner and a prayer partner too.
- Thoughts of running often came when my focus was on myself instead of others. Now, self-care is really important, and it’s definitely needed. There are times when you need to say “no” to something in order to rest and be able to be in a position to help others in the future. However, I’m talking about an overall focus of why you do what you do. Your purpose is connected to something so much greater than you. Tunnel vision can distract you from the larger purpose associated with your calling, and cause you to react to the limited view of a situation instead of the larger vision.
- Thoughts of running often came when my actions were not matching my beliefs. Put simply, I had faith but I wasn’t consistently acting like it. When you know that God is the Creator, has all power in His hands, and loves you, you should be able to let go and let God handle things. One word causes a roadblock: Control. Faith means that you trust God even when you have no idea how God is going to work out the mess you are in or around. For some, it’s very hard to give up control when you don’t have the solutions to the problems for yourself. This area of uncertainty can fuel fear. And fear…well, fear is all too willing to tell you to do all of the wrong things. Your actions and your faith should be on the same page.
- Thoughts of running often came when I was impatient. Searching for an immediate answer to something God told me I needed to wait on is a form of impatience. I have felt God preparing me for something even greater, but I’m just not fully sure how that journey is going to unfold. This has led to some really honest prayers that I need to continue, and more honest prayers I still need to have. The bottom line is God’s timing and your timing are not always the same. Even the most patient of people can have moments of impatience, but the response should not be to run.
- Thoughts of running often came when I was tired. I mentioned self-care earlier. It’s not a selfish act to take care of your health. You must take care of yourself. When you get tired, you start beginning to believe the “grass is greener on the other side.” Know that the grass is not greener on the other side. In fact, it required work to get the grass so green in appearance. Yet an appearance doesn’t necessarily equate with a solid foundation. You don’t know what went into getting that grass so green, maintaining the grass, and what lies beneath the surface of the grass you see. The reality is, if you’re tired now, you’ll be tired somewhere else…whether it’s on the green grass or not.
- Thoughts of running often came when I didn’t get my way. I’m imperfect and sometimes I think I want to get my way. Really I would much rather have God in control of my life than me trying to do any of it my way and by myself. Also, God knows exactly how what I want will impact me in the short-term and long-term. Of course I talk to God about the desires of my heart. However, sometimes what I want is not what I need, and I don’t always quickly make the distinction between the two. Not getting my way may just be a bigger blessing than getting my way.
To all of my fellow potential runners, run for exercise but don’t run out of fear, uncomfortable-ness, restlessness, selfishness, or stubbornness. Move when God says move, but stay when God says stay.
For those who have tried to run from your purpose in the past, what did you learn?
Blessings and Love,
Purpose Over Fear
2017 copyright by PurposeOverFear