Run Your Race

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Hebrews 12:1

I have wanted to run a 5K race for a few years now. The races I have considered look very inviting with the different themes and charities connected with them. I have always assumed this would help make it seem worth pushing myself to run continuously for 3.2 miles. To those of you who think in terms of metric instead of English, I know how very American-centric I sound. Five is a nice, straightforward number, but 3.2 has a much less daunting sound to it.

lorinda newest

So, why haven’t I signed up for a 5K race before now? I could give you a paragraph of excuses right here, but I won’t. The truth is, I don’t have a good reason. Each year I consider signing up for one of the more fun sounding or beneficial races, but I put the idea back on my “bucket list” instead.

Our eldest son was asked to run in a 5K race taking place this summer, and he accepted the invitation. He asked me to practice running with him, and I felt like it was a good time to see if I could actually finish a 5K. We live in northern Minnesota – northern Minnesota in April is one day warm and spring like and the next day bitter with snow we can measure by the foot. Our practices have been confined to laps around the gym at our church.

Our son measured out the gym and figured out how many laps it would take to complete the equivalent of a 5K. However, through a series of misunderstandings and mistakes, he and I have yet to actually run continuously all 5 kilometers in the gym. A couple of times I have celebrated victorious only to find out that the number of laps I needed to complete was more than the number I had actually run.

I was laughing off these blunders with my husband this morning before he went to work, but I eventually lamented with the question: Why can’t I just finish this race? He answered, “I keep wondering why you are hung up on running 5 kilometers when you walk more than twice as far each day and faster than some people run a 5K.”

A little later, I was walking with a friend of mine, and she echoed my husband’s response when I told her about our conversation. She’s actually run a 5K race, and she admitted that it isn’t all that glorious an accomplishment. She also pointed out at the end of our walk that we had trekked nearly a 10K’s worth of miles in just an hour and twenty minutes. I kept thinking about this after I got home. Eventually, I decided I had to get rid of the thoughts getting in my way so I could run the 5 kilometers and be done with it. So, I mapped out my route and chose my soundtrack – Toby Mac’s “Eye On It” album. I was so psyched up, I put my shoes back on to run despite just having walked 7 miles.

My eldest son joined me, but he dropped out at the one-mile mark. He knew how determined I was to complete this; so, he waved me on. I’d completely lost him by the two-mile mark. I was still running, but I was headed toward home by the three-mile mark. I’d been running 10-minute miles, and I could feel every minute of it, and as I looked ahead to the 0.2 miles still ahead of me, I saw all of it was going to be uphill.

Suddenly, three things became abundantly clear to me: 1) I can run 5 kilometers no problem, but I really don’t enjoy running as much as I do power walking. 2) Each one of us has been given our own unique pace and race to run, and mine doesn’t have to be about 10-minute miles. 3) There is a race more important than the one I was running. So, I chose to slow my pace down to my normal 13-minute mile walk and finished the last 0.2 miles. I didn’t feel like a quitter at all as I walked another mile and a half to meet up with my son.

I’m sure I could run each day and build up a tolerance for running, and maybe even put in more distance eventually, but I’m really not that interested. See, I also realized that sometimes we put unnecessary burdens on ourselves to do things the LORD doesn’t ask us to do. This wasn’t really my race to run. While I was running, I didn’t feel as connected to my community because I was focused on controlling my body’s reaction to running. After I ran, my knees swelled up and began screaming at me, which is something I don’t usually experience after I walk – even on those occasions I put in 10 miles.

I have friends who thrive through running, however, and I respect the races they run. I can respect myself as well. In fact, anyone who is challenging themselves to keep running the race set before them at the pace and level the LORD has given them has my utmost respect. Keep in mind that success is uncertain. As the writer of Ecclesiastes puts it in chapter 9 verse 11: I have seen something else under the sun: The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all. We have no control over events, but we can have hope in the LORD, and He will renew our strength to soar, run without growing weary, and walk without being faint. (Isaiah 40:31) Our LORD gives us purpose, and He gives us what we need to hope and continue in the race laid before each one of us should we accept it.

LORD, I thank you for your very present hope and for the strength you have given me. We are not all called to run foot races, but we are all called to run a spiritual race. Train me, LORD, build my endurance. I thrive as I gather knowledge and strength from your Word, and I pray all who read this draw nearer to You through reading your Scriptures, through prayer and listening, and through exercising your teachings. Our hope is in You LORD. Romans 15:4 assures us that everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. I pray this endurance becomes a part of us in a deep and binding way so we may echo Paul in his letter to Timothy, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Tim. 4:7) Amen.

Lorinda Freeman

Lorinda has a passion and desire to teach children about the love of God.  She is a homeschooling mom of four and together as a family they work within their church with the children’s programs making sure the hearts of all the children are being taught God’s love for them.  Lorinda and her husband, Chris, make their home in Hibbing, Minnesota after Lorinda had endured extensive travel growing up as a Navy “brat”. 1 Thessalonians 2:6-13, “We are not looking for praise from men, not from you or anyone else.  As apostles of Christ we could have been a burden to you, but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children.  We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.  Surely you remember, brothers, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you.  You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed.  For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.

Lorinda has a passion and desire to teach children about the love of God. She is a homeschooling mom of four and together as a family they work within their church with the children’s programs making sure the hearts of all the children are being taught God’s love for them. Lorinda and her husband, Chris, make their home in Hibbing, Minnesota after Lorinda had endured extensive travel growing up as a Navy “brat”. 1 Thessalonians 2:6-13, “We are not looking for praise from men, not from you or anyone else. As apostles of Christ we could have been a burden to you, but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children. We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us. Surely you remember, brothers, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you. You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.

The Great Heart Transplant

My husband and I are taking turns in choosing the books of the Bible we will read together as a couple. So Etching new we are doing this year. Now we are finding ourselves in second Corinthians and this book is loaded with awesomeness! I have recently received a new Bible as a gift and it comes in the New Translation. 2 Corinthians 3:3 says “words of Christ are carved on our hearts”. The Greek word for “carved” is ” eggrapho” meaning carved or engraved. This very same word “eggrapho” is also used in Luke 10:20, “rejoice that your names are written (carved) in the Book of Life.” The nails on the cross carved my name in the book of life! Now THIS is the redemption story that is carved on my heart forever.

My heart is forever marked by his hands that were pierced for my sins. We can spend the decades carving our own idols to bow down to or we can spend decades allowing the Spirit of the Living God to carve the image of Christ himself on our hearts.

What is in the carving process in your life? Perhaps, our heart has been beaten and bruised by the storms of life and we no longer think it’s good for anything. We may feel like there is nothing left of our heart to even carve. You are not alone. David, a man after God’s own heart, had found himself in a snowball effect of his own sin. You know, the kind of season when one thing led to another and before he realized that he found himself in whirlwind reaping a disaster of his own choices. He comes to God in utter devastation and hopelessness; he feels like all is lost and his heart as well as his soul are in shambles. He cries out to God in Psalm 51, “wash me clean from my guilt! Create in me a pure heart, God “.

This word “create” in Hebrew is “bara” and it means to create something new out of nothing. It is the same word ” bara” we see in Genesis when God created the world out of nothing. Somebody out there today feels like they have gone too far and out-sinned God’s ability to restore and forgive. You may feel like your heart could no longer be repaired, you may feel like there is nothing left to carve or all hope is gone and the future is uncertain. I am here to tell you based on the authority of God’s Word (and He is not a liar!) as long as your heart is still beating in your chest cavity there is hope.

Would you allow Him to create a new heart just like David did? Allow Him to transform your bruised, devastated, broken, hopeless heart! God is quite the skilled cardiologist, you see. He knows what He is doing. Ezekiel 36:26 says, “and I (God ) will give you a new heart, I will put a new spirit in you. And I will take out your stony stubborn heart and give you a tender responsive heart.”

This year I celebrate my 25th anniversary since I received my heart transplant from God. I was ten years old. Most of my childhood I lived next-door to hell. My heart was broken, used, betrayed and devastated by the time I was 10 years old. Fear, worry, insecurity were my constant companions. I remember feeling deep loneliness and rejection since I was a little girl. I was in desperate need of someone I could trust; someone I could depend on. Jesus found me when I least expected. My brother led me to Christ. I invited God in my heart and He began a transformation in me since then.

Some wounds take longer to heal than others, some scar tissue can grow a callous patch on the heart and will need to be carved out of the heart. The word of God is a double edged sword and it is a great scalpel that our Great Physician is using to transform a bruised and devastated hearts. There is healing, comfort, correction, instruction, and encouragement that He placed in the Bible and all of those things are vital in our “heart-transplant” recovery.

The last 25 years of my journey with God don’t feel like long at all, but it’s the thrill of the journey that is priceless to me. So, today I will leave you with this question to ponder: will you spend the rest of your life carving out idols to bow down to or would you spend the rest of your life in complete surrender and become God’s letter to the world written not with ink and paper but a letter that has been carved on your own heart? Will you become a letter of hope to the hopeless? Will you become the voice in the desert? Will you become salt to the earth and light to the world? Let Him write your story.

I couldn’t have written a better story than the one he wrote for me. The enemy thought he had me ruined and disabled at the age of 10. I had no future, but God looked my enemy in the eyes and said, “this story will end with the powerful ending, you will be sorry you ever messed with her!” I don’t know what lies ahead of me, but I trust him to make something beautiful with this life of mine. He is in the process of carving out my heart daily to be a message to the rest of the world about His stubborn Love for us.

The heart transplant takes blood, sweat and tears. His blood, your sweat and tears of both. Stay with me for just few more seconds as I pray over you. “Father, I don’t know who is reading this and what season of life your precious child is walking through today, but Father, I pray that today will become a day of new beginnings. I pray for Your Holy Spirit to touch the broken and hopeless heart and speak love over it. I pray, Lord, that You would declare a year of favor over this person. I pray that You would speak Liberty over the captive and set the prisoner free. Let the great heart transplant process begin in someone who is in desperate need of a new heart. You, Lord, our Great physician, the Restorer of the broken hope and Rebuilder of broken dreams. It is in You we place our trust today! In the name of your precious, loving Son’s name I pray. Amen.

Lenna Rivera

Lenna was born and raised in Volgograd , Russia.  She grew up in a family that did not know Christ. At the age of ten, she and her brother found a Gospel preaching church and became first the generation of Christ followers in their family .  Then, at the age of eighteen, Lenna felt a strong calling for missions and the Lord opened doors for her to become a missionary to the country of Georgia.  Today Lenna and her husband, Zach, reside in Nebraska,. They have 3 children together. Lenna enjoys cooking, spending time with the family and a good harty in-depth Bible study.  Her husband leads worship at their local church. Lenna enjoys writing about the things God reveals to her through the reading of the Word.

Lenna was born and raised in Volgograd , Russia. She grew up in a family that did not know Christ. At the age of ten, she and her brother found a Gospel preaching church and became first the generation of Christ followers in their family . Then, at the age of eighteen, Lenna felt a strong calling for missions and the Lord opened doors for her to become a missionary to the country of Georgia. Today Lenna and her husband, Zach, reside in Nebraska,. They have 3 children together. Lenna enjoys cooking, spending time with the family and a good harty in-depth Bible study. Her husband leads worship at their local church. Lenna enjoys writing about the things God reveals to her through the reading of the Word.

Bought with A Price

I was doing dishes a couple of weeks ago when I looked over beside the sink at a glass travel bottle I had purchased at the insistence of my four-year-old son. It still had the tags on it because I had been considering if it really was a wise purchase. Did I really need it? Maybe I should return it. These days as a stay-at-home mom I try to pinch every penny and I wondered if I could have put the money I spent on it to better use for something else. No matter what my plans for it, at this present moment it was mine. I had purchased it so I could choose to use it, give it to my son, put it in the cupboard with the rest of my rarely used water bottles, or let it sit on the counter for the next month as it currently was. I could give it away to the thrift store down the street or even throw it away in the trash if I wanted. Why? Because I paid for it with my money and it now belongs to me. I can do with it what I will.

bought with a price

Immediately following my musings, I heard the Holy Spirit whisper, “Bought with a price…not with the blood of bulls or goats, but with the precious blood of Christ”, and I knew there was a powerful spiritual analogy wrapped up in that insignificant object. I went to my Bible to research and found these three verses:

…”Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.” (1 Peter 1:18-21

“But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.” (Hebrews 9:11-15)

“Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

What awesome news! We have been purchased! Redeemed! Bought back from sin and sickness and death and the grasp of the enemy! But we were not redeemed with mere things that perish, like silver and gold – but with the precious blood of Christ! Our redemption wasn’t cheap – it was costly – and no one pays a substantial price for something of little value. Why would God? The very fact that His blood paid for our salvation should tell us how valued we are. How precious and loved and destined for greatness in Him.

If there’s one thing we as believers have forgotten in America, me included, is that, having been purchased with the most precious currency – the precious blood of Christ – now I belong to Him. I don’t belong to the devil anymore, praise God! Most of us who claim the name of Jesus realize that. But I also don’t belong to myself. I AM HIS. (God has really been stressing this to me lately!)  With His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place and forever redeemed my transgressions. He paid the highest price to save me from eternal death, as one of my favorite hymns, Victory in Jesus, proclaims: “He sought me, He bought me, with His redeeming blood,” and I am no longer my own. I don’t live for my own desires, my own dreams, my own lusts, anymore. I belong to the One who purchased me for Himself, to do with as HE pleases. And if I am His, then…I have died with Christ and have been raised to new life in Him. If I am His, He has the right to do WHATEVER He wants with me. He can put me in a position to sit at tables with kings, or He can lead me to sit with the poor and destitute to share His gospel with them. He can make me a worship leader in a large church and give me a huge public platform, or He can cause me to stay at home with my children and teach them to worship Him. He can bring seasons of rejoicing and blessing, and walk with me when the trials of life threaten to overcome me; He can cause me to grow and bear much fruit or put me on the shelf for a time to prune me; lift me to walk high on spiritual mountain tops, or sit as a watcher over gold being refined, purifying me by the fire.  Thankfully, because I am His precious child, He will never throw me away or grow weary of working in and through me. No, in all of it, He will be with me and the end result will be that He is glorified.

The point is: I no longer belong to me. I am not living for myself. I died, and the life I now live, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me! I simply love and worship Him, share His love with others, and follow where He leads. That’s what He asks of me, as His very own possession, paid for with His life’s blood and kept by the promise of the Holy Spirit. I am to now glorify God in my body AND spirit, both of which became His when I chose Him over the things of this world.

I really believe it’s important for us to once again realize whose we are and let that affect the way we live our lives, knowing that our very own Creator bought us back and redeemed us from sin and death with the blood of His very own Son. And because of that high price that was paid, we are precious and priceless and exist to be only moldable clay for the Potter to form into a usable vessel. After all, it’s His own image He wants to see reflected there. And when the world sees us looking like Jesus, that’s when they will want what we have and we will fulfill our true purpose for living.

So, if you’re walking through a darkness right now, have hope and faith and persevere through the trials. Keep your eyes on Jesus! If you’re living in the heights of glory and all is well for you, rejoice and thank Him! Don’t be discouraged if your own plans for your life aren’t coming to pass –surrender them and know that God has something better in mind. No matter what is happening in your life, you can be confident that He’s got you. You are His, You are precious to Him, and His plans for you are good. The beauty of belonging to your Father is simply this: He has started a good work in you and He will be faithful to complete it!

Father God, thank You for redeeming my life from darkness and being lost! Thank You for purchasing me and making me Your very own! Help me to surrender my plans for Yours, to realize that because I am Yours I can trust You to direct my steps and make my life more than what I could ever make it myself. Thank You for giving me worth and for loving me and never giving up on me!

In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Sharilyn Edgerle

Sharilyn is the mother to two adorable little boys and met her husband, Enoch, through eHarmony in. She grew up and graduated high school in Montana. Together they make their home in Michigan. Sharilyn’s passion rests in sharing the love of Jesus with others through evangelism, music and writing. She has recently been asked to lead worship for a local church and started writing for the Titus II Woman blog team. Sharilyn is a graduate of Trinity Bible College with an Associates of Arts degree in Music Performance. Jeremiah 29:11-14, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the Lord.”

Sharilyn is the mother to two adorable little boys and met her husband, Enoch, through eHarmony in. She grew up and graduated high school in Montana. Together they make their home in Michigan. Sharilyn’s passion rests in sharing the love of Jesus with others through evangelism, music and writing. She has recently been asked to lead worship for a local church and started writing for the Titus II Woman blog team. Sharilyn is a graduate of Trinity Bible College with an Associates of Arts degree in Music Performance. Jeremiah 29:11-14, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the Lord.”