Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Running for His Pleasure

“I'm forever in pursuit and I don't even know what I am chasing…” ~Harold Abrahams, Chariots of Fire

"Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” ~ Matthew 11.18

For the last three weeks I have had trouble sleeping. However it hasn’t only been babies, but restless anxiety that has kept me awake. I am turning thirty this year and the occasion has been looming like a gray cloud overhead, throwing into high relief those things that I have failed to accomplish…and leaving me with a great deal of frenetic energy to make up for what feels like lost time…

On Thursday night I took a quarter of a sleeping pill; and Friday morning, very early, on my way into Evangeline’s room, fainted and fell full force onto the granite floor. I awoke disoriented, in a puddle of blood, with a two-inch laceration on the back of my head that resulted in seven stitches. After telephoning for help (Dutch was already gone) I lay on the hallway carpet with a towel on my head and listened to Evie murmuring, and Audrey chattering... thinking …

In his gentle way, God used the experience to solidify my already developing conviction to surrender, once more, all my self-imposed standards for what my life should be… and to embrace instead the life that He wants to give me, a life of simplicity and rest in Him. This does not mean that I should cease to do things… but that my life's work should be done out of gratitude, and not a desire to prove myself.

Much has been made of the movie Chariots of Fire because it so poignantly illustrates this principal of finding your security in God, and not your performance. The movie is based loosely on two actual men, sprinters Eric Lidell and Harold Abrahams, who competed in the 1924 Olympics.

Both men have the same goal – to win – but their motivations are vastly different. Liddell runs in order to glorify God. "I believe that God made me for a purpose,” he says, “but He also made me fast, and when I run, I feel His pleasure." In contrast, Abrahams runs in order to prove he is valuable as a human being. After the gun goes off, he says, “I will raise my eyes and look down that corridor; 4 feet wide, with 10 lonely seconds to justify my whole existence. But WILL I?”

As Abrahams' comment reveals, not only are their motivations different, but there is far more at stake for Abrahams than for Liddell. If Liddell runs his best but loses, he will have lost nothing because his security is vested in God and not his athletic ability. But if Abraham loses, he has lost all his worth as a person; and he no longer sees any point in living.

I want to follow in Liddell’s footsteps, to work and play, write and read, cook and clean, discipline and nurture - do all the things God has given me to do - in a spirit of joyful, restful, peace-filled gratitude… After all, I can afford to. Christ already footed the bill.

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