I've recently started running again. I'm not at all sure "again" is the right qualifier since there has been a broken foot, a blown ACL, serious back issues and a few more pounds than I would care to admit since I considered myself a serious runner. And I'm not even sure this slow, painful, awkward movement qualifies as running. But I am trying. It is hard, friends. Like - why am I putting myself through this misery - hard. And yet I trudge (literally) on. It may not be pretty, but I'm persevering. I set small goals, slowly pushing myself for longer periods. And I give myself a load of grace.
Yesterday I set out on the trail at my neighborhood park and mentally prepared myself for the journey (it is so much a head game with me, yall). I should have also better physically prepared, as the shorts I suited up in were starting to grow. Have you ever had a pair of pants that seemed to get looser and bigger the longer you wore them? Come on, some of you know what I'm talking about. This phenomenon occurred as I locomoted down the path. The more steps I took and the sweatier I got, the wider my waistband got. I thought I could possibly just ride it out since I was wearing a long t-shirt, but as they slipped down my backside, I lost all hope for them defying gravity. I frantically clutched the wayward bottoms and hiked them up as I slowed my jog to a walk. My flesh wanted to use this as an excuse to stop running. I mean, it is soooooo hard. And besides, I don't wear under things beneath my exercise pants (TMI?) My weak nature (not to mention my sore back and achy knee) wanted to quit. And I had a respectable excuse. But as awkward as it was, I knew I could continue to jog while holding up the waistband of my ill-fitting shorts. And that is what I did until I reached the goal I set before starting out that morning. I don't tell you this story as some kind of weird humble-brag. I tell it because I see a correlation between my waistband and obedience to Christ.
Have I lost you yet? Oftentimes, God asks us to do things that are hard. Like, running hard. Like, scary, why am I putting myself though this misery, hard. And I can be the queen of finding any and every excuse to quit - or never start for that matter. When I feel the nudge to serve in a new ministry or capacity at church, I can get overwhelmed with the activities I'm already juggling (or holding up like a waistband, if you will). When He asks me to have a difficult conversation with someone, I can hide behind my non-confrontational nature. When God asks me to create, it's easy to feel like there are more talented and experienced people for the job. And the truth is, on my own I would make an ass out of myself at any of those things (just as I would have in a totally different way had I dropped my shorts). But because our God is so good, we are never alone.
I don't for a minute believe the cliche that God doesn't give us anything we can't handle. I think He CONSTANTLY gives us things we can't handle to see if we will get out of the way and allow Him to work in it. "And He has said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.' Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weakness, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me." 2 Corinthians 12:9 When it comes to obeying His will for us, Jesus is the left hand holding up the waist band so that we can run the race without excuse. I can almost hear Christ whisper a refute to every one of my excuses. "Busy? If I have called you to it, I will multiply your time." (Don't confuse this with filling your schedule with "good" things that leave you exhausted and putting God on the back-burner. That's another topic for another time.) "Afraid? I cast out fear (1 John 4:18)." "Not talented enough? Not smart enough? That's ok. I AM." God will equip you for whatever He asks of you. Rest in that. Hold your pants up high and get to it.