A Run on the Beach with Jesus
In the grand scheme of human existence, our individual problems and tribulations may seem like grains of sand stuck in a shared proverbial shoe. Individually each grain of sand can be an annoyance, rubbing up against the noble foot of humanity. However, when they become plentiful, they begin to clog up our lives.
The sand makes it nearly impossible to focus on travelling through life. Our sole concern, if you would excuse the pun, becomes the sand. It begins to absorb our conscious thought, our lives are focused on the sand. We drown in our own problems, “fixing” a never ending tide. So what's the problem? Should one not spend their life trying to get rid of at the very least, their own grains of sand? Perhaps.
However, if there is indeed a destination for humanity’s travels, it would be rather circuitous to spend all of one’s time with one’s shoes off, banging them against a rock. Unfortunately, the sand likes to come back, especially when running on a beach. In each of our lives God calls us to be a part of the body of the church. That could mean any variety of tasks or life paths, from building a God-centered business to working in ministry directly. The common thread is that every human soul has a place in the church of God, every man and woman has a set of gifts that predisposes them to be useful in a specific area. When the sand builds up and shoes become uncomfortable, one can easily get distracted from their purpose and destination.
In times of particular tribulation, times replete with sand, it is easy to be washed away in the course tide of life’s difficulties. It is easy to let God jog in place while you attempt to pour sand out of your shoe.
"Just one moment" You might say,
"Once I get this sand out of my shoe, we can continue" you might follow.
In this moment, one puts their own concerns above the will of God for your life.
Jesus is perhaps the best running partner there is, He is always running with you. So when you stop and try to do your own thing, He comes with you, waiting for the moment that He can continue to develop your gifts in the service of the kingdom of God. This is very much a matter of faith. Biblical faith is trusting in God, it is not blind or without cause. It is trust, plain and simple. Many authors have written about faith as trust, it is something that is exceptionally important. To see faith as trust in God is paramount to spiritual success. I would not have faith in a rickety bridge that is tied together using dental floss and toothpicks. There is no promise or even past evidence of success. For God, His track record is astounding. I think they wrote a book about God’s track record, it's pretty famous.
Whatever promise He makes, He keeps. God always runs with you through the tough times, never giving up and always helping you towards the full realization of your personal gifts. One should always seek God in these times, whether through divorce, health problems or family discord, God is always there at your side. The trials and tribulations of life should have us running with God, not stopping and trying to sort it out on our own.
There is no expectation of perfection for us, we need not have a perfect life before running with God. In fact, the nature of our lives is imperfect. For as long as we are on the earth such imperfection and suffering is intrinsic to our existence. God asks us to come as we are to develop our spiritual gifts, even and especially in the most emotionally ponderous of times. To focus on the interloping sand is to forget one's purpose and calling from God. At times it is this trial and tribulation that God uses to show us the sharpened potential of our character and abilities, such challenges allow us to become more of the good that is already inside us. So remember not to lose your faith in God;
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding (Proverbs 3:5 NIV).
When we stop and lean on our own understanding, we do not develop and there exists a great chance of personal injury, spiritually and emotionally. In running with God, our partner has a perfect track record worthy of our faith, in fact it is the most worthy anything will ever be of faith. It is tempting to treat God like a mortal friend, from whom we hide our troubles, imperfections and doubts. But it is with these things that God forges the steel of our souls, even the most incorrigible existence becomes abundant in indomitable faith.
According to the apostle Paul in his letter to those early Christians in Ephesus;
“In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” (Ephesians 6:16 NIV).
Faith, trust in God, is our shield against that which plagues our mortal existence. Even the flaming arrows of the enemy are extinguished by our trust in Him. He is the Deliverer, and he promises to deliver us from the evils of this world in a way that will grow and strengthen us for the rest of our lives on this earth. It is an open ended invitation to walk, and run, with Him.
So then in this present time of tribulation, and all those times to come, remember to seek him always, lean not on your own understanding and come to trust the development that God has in store for your life. So even in times when sand is clogging your shoe, and you are tempted to stop running with God, He is there through it all, always at your side. God is helping and encouraging you through any difficulty, no perfection required.