It always happens this way. I find myself, at the end of myself, and realize…I ran out.
How long was I running? When did I stop leaning into Jesus? What motivated me to do it in my own strength?
What fear overtook me and forced me into this corner of striving? What hurt or trauma enticed me to control?
Have you ever found yourself in this place?
Have you found yourself in that moment where you recognize that you’re not operating in His strength anymore? Not operating in His grace, or freedom, or rest, or trust?
You realize that you’re completely in your flesh, and as you take a moment, you get stuck trying to remember where you crossed the line.
Let’s troubleshoot. How do we backtrack and resolve what’s happening? But, even better, how do we manage or monitor the engagement of our hearts and our whole selves to ensure that we aren’t leaving our Friend behind?
If we’re leaving Him behind, we’re leaving ourselves behind.
It’s like this ghostly picture of us is running ahead, and the real us is at rest in Jesus 10 feet back. The version of us that we thought was ok and moving forward is actually hurting, striving, overcompensating, lonely and afraid.
Have you ever been walking with someone, and they keep walking 15 feet ahead? You think to yourself, “We’re supposed to be here together. We’re supposed to be enjoying time together. We can’t even hold a conversation because they keep leaving me behind!” What’s the point right? What’s the point in trying to journey with someone when you become oblivious to their presence?
Do you realize that life is meaningless when you get ahead of Jesus? I’m not just asking you, I’m asking myself. I have to ask that to myself often, more often than I’d like.
If your false self – this ghostly, fleshly version of you that is striving – is running up ahead of Jesus, your perceived movement forward is realized to be an illusion. You’ve left Him, and ultimately the fullness of you in Him, in the dust. This ghostly version of you that is dissociated from Him, and from yourself, is robbing you of your reality.
I know that, but at times, I still enter into striving and begin to run my race without Him. At the sake of myself, I run and run and run, to find myself feeling empty, tired, despairing. Why do we do this?! How can we prevent the insanity?!
Here’s what I’ve found. These first few steps are bargaining conditions: habit transformers that must teach you and re-train you to do things differently.
STEP ONE: STOP RUNNING
Lol! Most of the time when I “stop running,” it’s because I’ve hit a brick wall. A brick wall called tired, unfulfilled, visionless and completely incapable apart from the vine. Now obviously I’m not talking about the run that’s fruitful. You know the one…flames of fire coming around the track, lit up in Jesus, fully alive, free, empowered, joyful. Ha! That woman is incredible. She is running inside a labor of rest. You can too.
In order to get there, you have GOT TO STOP running. Any toddler that is learning how to walk will fall flat on their face when they try to run! They are still learning how! If you need to learn how to run well, in the bloodlife of Jesus, you have to take enough time to slow down.
Your job is to connect yourself to what’s going on internally, connect it to Him, and then ask Him to give you strength and grace to run well. Sometimes this takes a continual Stop. Go. Stop. Go. Stop. Go. When you learn how to stop, you’ll have everything you need to go. The more you practice this day in and day out, the more successful you will be at the longevity of endurance and living in faith. It could be an intention you need to set each morning, or every 5 minutes. Let’s be real. “Every hour I need thee”.
STEP TWO: DRINK SOME WATER
Do you know what I tend to do when I need to stop running? I get mad that I’m thirsty. Ugh. The resentful pride that I find in myself when I know I need Jesus is embarrassing! I somehow become annoyed with myself when I find that I’m so incapable apart from Him! Why am I surprised?! Oh, the humility…
But he gives more grace. Therefore it says,
“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
The quicker you learn to reconcile your humanity to the God of grace and power, the more likely you are to experience breakthrough quickly, efficiently and sweetly.
Do you know why He wants us to humble ourselves? Because we’re thirsty, and we need a drink!
Those children in Israel. Bless their hearts. They did not get it! They were thirsty, they had NO water! But they would complain, and become bitter and resentful. God still gave them something to drink. Sometimes, it even came at a cost…
Let me explain something though: YOUR cost was paid. Jesus took that wrath. But, sometimes, there are natural consequences to your bad attitude and inability to change.
Your inability to cease striving will cost you.
Friend, slow down. You are thirsty, and He is our living water.
So what does this mean exactly? Getting a drink?
Sometimes when I stop to pray, I realize that there has been a deep disconnect in my heart. I quickly recognize the condition of my heart when I challenge myself to stop and pray. It’s like going to coffee with a friend if you’re in a bad mood. It might work out, but it’ll take a minute for everyone to get past the hurdle of your bad mood. Prayer will really break down the walls. Not only does it break down walls in the moment of need, but it has lasting and unseen effect. It especially has an effect when you are praying in a language you don’t know, and giving God more power to be powerful on your behalf. The longer you stay in control, the longer you have control. Trust me, you don’t want the control. It’ll cost you.
Worship + Read.
Worship and meditation in the words of God are a game changer every time. Most often, they should be intertwined in your prayer life. Think about what this looks like for you, and what you want it to look like. So many stories in the Old Testament look like the people of God journeying, asking, seeing salvation, bursting into a random song of praise, and discussing what God was up to. The worship, the fellowship, the ingestion of the scroll are all meant to ebb and flow in day-to-day life. You are required to intake the Word of God. It’s truth, it’s a shield and defense, it’s a sword, it’s direction, it’s peace, it’s clarity, it’s wisdom….The very nature of God written down for you to think on day and night.
This step might happen at first. Sometimes your heart needs to reconcile what’s hurting and present it to the Lord before healing can take place. His kindness brings us to repentance, but if we are hurting, with hardened hearts, we’ll resist His kindness. Decide to reconcile because there’s nowhere else for you to go. Get there quicker. You know He’s the answer, every time. If you’re hurting, seeking answers, or don’t understand, just keep coming. Bring the hurt every time. He will heal it. He will speak truth. He will reconcile.
Repent + Recommit.
99% of the time, repentance is involved in this process. When this happens, it’s also important to know that a change must come and align with your repentance. How many times have I repented for something, and then my actions contradict my intentions? That’s a different article, with a different problem to address altogether…What I’m addressing here is the need to make a plan for recommitting. It’s not easy, and there’s grace in recommitting again and again. However, we are talking about growth and maturing in Christ. If we aren’t transforming, if there is no real accountability to God, to ourselves, to others, then we might as well throw in the towel now. We are doing everything we’re doing in faith to become like Jesus. If you aren’t committed to that, you’re not committed to Him. Recommit to walk in grace, grow in His grace and pursue His grace throughout all of your life.
STEP THREE: SOW INTO THE DREAM
I think so many times when I’m found running myself into the ground, it’s because there is a deeper lying issue of my being afraid. I start to doubt, I begin to wander, I become afraid. I feel this pattern reoccur, but when I slow down the Lord encourages me in the hope He has for me. He helps me to run in speed with the grace He’s fashioned for me. I’m not running for the dream, I’m running for Him. But to see the dream rightly encourages my heart. I have to see myself in proportion to Him, in proportion to the dream. One way that I sow into the dream is by walking well with Him. Remember the foundational truths, remember the promises, and remember His good intent toward you.
HE has a plan and purpose. You are the one sowing into HIS dreams for You.
How arrogant are we to think that He designed something “just for us”? He did, of course. But, it’s for Him! It’s for the Son!
Please remember that you are investing in His will for your life. You are surrendering to His choice, to His will, to His intention. Legally, we are in control, but we want to give Him control. We want Him to have His way. Sowing into the dream is saying,
“Your Kingdom come, Your will be done”.
“Seek first the Kingdom. Everything else will be added”.
We are restoring the intimacy of our being with Him in the garden. When we do this, we want to walk at His pace. When we do, there’s joy, promise, fulfillment, hope and peace. We live in our purpose when we sow into His dreams….when we sow into our well-being, being formed, renewed and loved into His likeness: That is His dream. We are His dream. Run like that.
Sowing into the dream, Him first and the dreams second, means that your heart will stay engaged in a vision that invigorates you being alive in vision and in purpose. You were called to a purpose. Not only that, but you were created and designed for something He has in mind. You fit the piece He desires. Allow this to encourage you and motivate you, not burden or overwhelm you. Sowing into the dream means that you continually recognize your partnership and oneness with Christ. Wow! Investing into His dream for your life means you continue choosing partnership with the Living God and Creator of the universe.
He wants you involved. He wants you engaged in the purpose for eternity, the purpose for each day. Sow into the dream, and sow into your days. Steward His prize, steward your life.
Running well requires humility. Running well requires grace…Not perfection, not pride. We must choose day in and day out to reconcile our great need for Him, and run the race in His grace and His power…Not by might, but by His Spirit.
The grace without the ghost is true rest in Jesus, and while it may be hard, sometimes it requires a letting go and a surrender. Satisfaction meets purpose, and the joy in simplicity of life in Christ is what He has intended for us from the beginning.