As I stood in church this morning singing about the goodness of God, the lyrics depicted a shepherd God chasing after us. I thought of something Lisa Harper says a lot in her teaching, that she’s always trying to run hard after Jesus.

All of this movement.

It makes me tired. If energy were a spectrum, I’d be on the lowest level. My mind may be running 90 to nothing, but it takes a lot to get me physically on the move. My fellow enneagram nines can relate to this.

As I thought about all of these Christians running, I thought about how we aren’t always running after the right thing. I chuckled after the chorus thinking, But what if they trip?

A vision of blooper reels from marathons gone awry flashed before my eyes, athletes falling over their feet during pivotal moments. The crowd goes wild!

It’s not that funny when you’re the one tripping, though.  My husband frequently reminds me of the time we were trouncing through the woods looking for deer sheds when I got tangled in underbrush, falling squarely on my face in the damp leaves. Ben turned back, shook his head, and continued forward, leaving me laughing uncontrollably in the foliage at my gaffe.

Usually, our trip-ups take us by surprise. Uh hm, COVID and the ensuing hysteria, job loss, financial impact, abuse, and isolation. The unexpected death and unending grief. The deterioration of relationships. Families fractured by addiction.

I’ve been following a Bible-in-a-year plan that takes a couple of chapters from a few books each day. I’ve been reading in Genesis, Job, and Proverbs this past month. As I’ve saddled up with Job in his misery, I’ve wanted to shake him and tell him to just move on. Quit your moaning and figure a way forward.

This dude really spent chapters rehearsing a trial to acquit himself of the misery he was enduring if he could just get God to let him go to court for a hearing. And I mean, he wasn’t wrong. God just had different uses for Job’s suffering than for him to sit around pouting about how unjust it was that he was suffering to begin with.

I feel ya, Job. It’s one thing to accept when you get tripped up and feel like, ok, yeah, I probably deserve this and am reaping what I sowed. It’s another thing entirely when you truly felt like you were running hard after Jesus, and still fell flat on your face.

I’ve spent many nights laying out my case before God, too, Job. Yall know my not yet encounter. And yall have seen His faithfulness to me since that day. Thank God His words are “Yes” and “Amen” and what He starts, He will see to completion!

My heart has been stirring for the community around me. I heard a pastor praying to be made useful rather than for God to use him. I repeated that prayer right back to God and watched His plans for me unfold.

But it didn’t look like me gaining speed or agility on my race. No, it looked like more brokenness than I’d been reading about in Genesis. It looked like a community filled with death of loved ones, health issues, marital strife, and kids acting out. It looked like casting a lifeline to a friend in need. It looked like throwing my hands up and asking God why things had to be the way they are for my friends and for this disheveled world.

His answer tripped me up.

I felt Him saying,

“I had to do it. I knew it would hurt and it wouldn’t be easy for you,

but I had to do it to get you here.

I am your Father. I am all-knowing and can see in a way you can’t.

Therefore, I had to do it.”

I thought of Harlow squirming about in her bed, me pinning her legs and stroking her hair while Ben held her arms and artfully worked to get a splinter lodged deep in her hand to the surface. Big ol’ crocodile tears streamed from her face as she wailed about not being held down and not wanting us to “fix it”.

But we had to do it. We knew the infection and pain that would follow if we left it to fester. We knew the trip to the doctor, the medication. We had to do it.

Our Father has to let us walk (trip) through some seasons as we run the race set before us. He doesn’t love us any less. He’s just been around long enough to know that we can’t do this life alone.

We can’t fix ourselves. We can’t dig ourselves out of the despair that surrounds us. We can’t perfect our lunges and trot ourselves into heaven.

But we can fall, willingly, on our knees. We can extend a hand to those who have fallen behind. We can train with those who have gone before us. We can persevere and put in the work to grow in relationship with our Lord and Savior.

You haven’t lost the race. As long as there is breath in your lungs, you have another opportunity to praise the Lord. He not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. Put on your worship playlist, scroll through some encouraging pages, listen to a sermon geared towards your current struggle. Call the friend who’s been on your heart. Pull out your Bible or open up the app. Even if it’s been a while. Even if you stumble through it. Pray. Out loud. In your head. Written in your journal. Tune out the things that have had you tripped out and start walking in the freedom of forgiveness.

verified in the verses official

2 Timothy 1:7 “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”

Hebrew 12:1 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us”

Philippians 1:6 “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

James 1:2-4 “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

Galatians 6:9 “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”

love, bailey

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