"God delights in causing us to exercise our faith." (Streams in the Desert, 4/15)
That phrase really stuck out to me as I was having my quiet time this afternoon. It brought me back to my run yesterday...
DH was home sick, and Lucy was down for a nap, and the weather was beautiful outside (low 80's) It's a rarity for me to be able to take an afternoon run, but since Lucy and DH both needed to rest, I decided to take advantage of needing to get out of the house. I turned on my ipod shuffle workout playlist which started on my Keith Green section (I'm on a huge Keith Green kick right now!) and I was off.
The first 10 minutes of my run are typically the hardest part. They always seem to feel like an eternity, and I never feel like I'm going to make it. But then I hit that runner's plateau and I'm good to go for about half an hour. Well, as half an hour was nearing, I thought maybe I should try to run a little further than usual, especially since my going inside the house would probably wake everyone up, so I just kept running...and running...and running...until I realized that it looked like I might actually be able to go for an entire hour!
Now, I realize that's not much for many of you, but for me, it's HUGE! I've never ran that long in my entire life. I put the goal in my mind that I was going to accomplish that milestone tho...
I made it halfway through my last lap with ten minutes left, and that's when I really started to struggle. My body began to feel soooo heavy, I was really winded, and my heartrate was steadily climbing. I really wanted to quit. At this point, I realized it was going to have to be a mental push, as my body physically was worn out. I also kept thinking of how connected this all was to my spiritual walk...
There are so many times in our lives when we feel like we just can't push any further. We may be physically, emotionally, or mentally spent, and we just feel like we need to give up. But that's where exercising our faith comes in. God DELIGHTS in those times of struggle, not because He wants to see us suffer, but because He knows that in the end, it's going to make us stronger because we realize more and more our NEED for Him. it's in those times where WE realize that WE are incapable, that we finally allow HIM to show us His strength through us.
When I finished my run yesterday, I literally felt like I had accomplished the most amazing task, and like just maybe, I could conquer anything. (Well, OK, maybe after a few minutes of feeling like I was going to puke and pass out, THEN I felt victorioius! lol:) It wasn't always easy, but through my struggle and willingness to fight to the end, I became stronger in the end.
...In life, we have two choices of how we respond to struggles: we either come out feeling victimized, or we come out feeling victorious. In other words, I could have finished my run yesterday thinking, "Poor me--look at all that I just went through and how exhausted I am now," or I could say, "Wow! Look what I was able to accomplish with just a little determination and hard work!" The same is true in our spiritual lives. When I face trials, I can choose to feel self-pity, thinking, "Why do I always have to endure so many trials. Why me? I'm so defeated and tired." Or I can choose to be victorious, saying, "Praise God that He desires to teach me and use me and strengthen me through all He allows into my life!"
So, today, I'm choosing to allow God to exercise my faith, and I am praising Him in advance for the victory I will have through Him!