Running your own race
So I have been job hunting for a month now, and I am not unfamiliar with this situation, however this season has been more challenging than I thought it would be. I thought I would take this opportunity to explore some of the things I've been mulling over while I have the time to write.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Hebrews 12: 1-3 NIV
This bit of scripture I have heard so many times over my life and I think, as with so many other parts of the bible, we can gloss over it's worth and meaning. Especially when you are struggling with where you are at right now. But it's been at the forefront of my mind and got me thinking over some recent experiences.
Recently at Trent Vineyard, we had Michael Murphy talk to us about Forgotten Favour. He said that we get so caught up in the fact that God is merciful (saved us from death) that we forget to approach Him in the confidence of the grace He has for us (good stuff we don't deserve but He wants to give us). I think that is so true of so many of us, and it struck a chord that night in my heart. I want to be more bold in asking for and receiving grace, but there are things that stop me in doing so.
Growing up, my parents worked hard in their jobs, trying to give me the best upbringing they could. I have been blessed many times over by their generosity, but that doesn't mean I had everything I wanted growing up. There are also many things that I am sure they never wanted for me or themselves, which has shaped the way I think about mercy and grace. There are lots of unanswered prayers, ill-health, grief and doubts that mark the race I have already ran so far, and which seem to pave the race I have yet to run.
It is hard to throw off these things that hinder me. I still have the physical scars left by appendicitis and cancer, pictures of much loved relatives that have passed away, plus the emotional scars from mental ill-health and low well-being. Plus the world is constantly bombarding us with ways to make more money, how to be beach body ready, ways to live longer, messages that tell us we're not beautiful enough, not rich enough, not famous enough, not got enough friends, not got enough possessions.
I am just not good enough.
So then coming to God about a job, or whatever situation you are in, is clouded by all these things. The little voice in the back of your mind goes "Well Jesus died for you, yeah, but that doesn't mean you'll magically be provided for. Oh dream job doesn't exist by the way, you'll just have to settle for what you can get." Praying can be out of a place of mercy. I felt bad about asking for a dream job, that prophesies which had come before may not get fulfilled this time. Then my brain starts doing worst case scenario - I am a natural worrier - which involves loosing the house, loosing my husband, not being able to survive. It's a scary place to be. In real life, it comes out in not wanting to spend much money, checking the bank balance more, staying at home, isolating myself. Simply, giving in to the lies and stopping the race.
BUT...but...Paul shows us how we can step into grace and keep running. Verse 2 in Hebrews tells us to fix our eyes on Jesus, for the joy set before Him did He endure the cross. Jesus, in the Garden of Gethsemane, cried out to God to take the cup of death away from Him. Yet in that place of anguish, Jesus still turned his face towards God and prayed that His will be done. He endured the pain and suffering of the cross, took on the sin of the whole world once and for all, to face death and pay the price for us. Michael Murphy said that we can get caught up in our faith, our lack of it compared to others who seem to be walking in God's grace, our lack of it to receive healing, provision, blessings. It is not down to our faith, Paul says we simply need to fix our eyes on Him and consider Him. He has done it all, regardless of how much faith we have, we just need to come and lay everything before Him.
So that is what I am going to try and do. I was in the middle of deep cleaning the house listen to worship music when this struck me. I have two job interviews coming up and I do not know which will be the right job, or if I'll get either of them, so I am no where near living this out and seeing the outcome yet. However, I am determined to to focus on Jesus. Whenever I start worrying, I am going to try and focus on all the good things I already have and what He has done for me. Before the interviews I am going to look to Jesus and pray God's will be done. I am going to remember the blessings and grace already poured out.
You might be reading this and thinking 'I don't know if I can do that'. When experiencing mental health difficulties, it can be hard to remember the good things that have happened. When you are in a good place, work out a way that works for you, so that in that dark place you can quickly look to Jesus and His grace. It might be that you stick notes around the house, such as by the bathroom mirror, on the fridge, in a picture frame so you can walk round and read them every day. Things that might say 'You are known and loved by God', 'I am really good at baking' or 'You are not alone in this'. It might be that you create a worship playlist, so that you can take 5 minutes out and listen to a song that declares what He has done for us. I find it useful sometimes speaking to others because then I am not alone with my thoughts, someone else can speak truth to me and pray with me.
Today's verse of the day was:
Then you shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
John 8: 32
If we can truly start believing deep in our souls that Jesus died for us, that we are no longer bound by our sin and He wants to bless us, we will be free. Free from the lies of this world, free from the power it has over us. We just need to keep looking towards Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. I won't be easy, but together we can persevere and run our race.