Updated: Dec 28, 2018
MONDAYS WITH KERRI
Our maturing process continues as we learn that we deserve discipline and need training. Brokenness does not come to those who resist it or run from it. The training process never feels good but without it we will never reach our potential or step into the fullness of who we were created to be as the Signet Ring on the hand of God.
The following passages illustrate this truth:
Hebrews 5:12-14 - You have been Christians a long time now and you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things a beginner must learn about the Scriptures. You are like babies who drink only milk and cannot eat solid food. And a person who is living on milk isn't very far along in the Christian life and doesn't know much about doing what is right. Solid food is for those who are mature, who have trained themselves to recognize the difference between right and wrong and then do what is right.
Jeremiah 31:18 - I have heard Israel saying, 'You disciplined me severely, but I deserved it. I was like a calf that needed to be trained for the yoke and plow. Turn me again to you and restore me, for you alone are the LORD my God.
1 Corinthians 9:27 - I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.
In years past, my favorite event was participating in the Hood to Coast Relay race. This event is the largest running relay in the world, stretching one hundred and ninety-seven miles from the top of Mt. Hood down to the beautiful Pacific Ocean beaches. Over 12,000 runners participate every year and the mayhem is unlike anything else.
One year stands out vividly in my mind as it serves to illustrate these passages for me. My second leg found me running in the darkness of the early morning hours. I had been told that this particular stretch was relatively flat and that no van support would be available to me. Traffic would be averted onto a larger, direct route and I would need a headlamp to navigate through the darkness alone. I received the baton and started off around 2:00 a.m. My muscles were tight and sore as the lactic acid in my quads reminded me of the grueling seven, hilly, miles I had completed in the hot sun earlier that day. The temperature had dropped significantly so I was anxious to warm up my muscles for the challenge ahead. As soon as I left the exchange point, I found myself running into complete blackness. My eyes quickly adjusted, and the moon came out from behind the clouds, so I decided to switch off my head lamp to save the battery.
About a mile into the leg, I realized I had been misinformed. The terrain was not at all flat as I had been promised. It was the strangest sensation, I could not see my feet or the ground clearly but I could feel the sharp grade I was climbing. My muscles were already so sore; I started to worry about what might happen if I could not keep running. There were no runners from the other teams around me; I was jogging in complete darkness all alone. It was so eerie and quiet that I began to question my wisdom in accepting this particular leg assignment. My muscles were telling me that I was still climbing a steep hill, so I pulled back my intensity to save some energy. Just as I did, my foot caught a pothole. I had no way of seeing it there, so I was completely taken by surprise. I desperately fought to regain my footing but found myself tripping on the large piece of asphalt that had created that spacious hole. I felt myself going down as I scrambled to find level ground but there was nothing I could do to avert the fall.
As I fell, all I could think was, Kerri, do not land on your knees, you must keep running, do not hurt your knees! So, in my frantic attempt to save my knees, I made the quick decision to catch myself on my hands instead. I reached backward as I fell and braced myself for impact. As I hit the road, I heard a snap and a feeling of nausea surged through my body. The grade of the hill had caused me to fall on one hand, but the extreme pain I encountered on impact caused me to quickly flip my body over to cushion my descent. I felt an intense heat on both of my knees as I slid along the pavement. For ten seconds I lay motionless, my brain scrambling to make sense of what had just happened. My first thought even in the complete darkness was that hopefully no one had seen me fall. Then with a rush of adrenaline, I jumped to my feet only to feel shooting pain pulsating from my hand through my entire body. What should I do? I could already feel a hot trickle running down my legs; I knew I was bleeding heavily. I could not assess my injuries in the darkness and I did not dare to turn on my headlamp. I knew seeing my injuries wouldn’t help. But the intense pain made my condition quite apparent to me. Suddenly, I was overcome with anger. Why was I on this stupid leg in the darkness? This was not the terrain I was promised and this was certainly not safe! I should be home in bed; this was the dumbest thing I had ever done, what was I thinking?
I had a choice to make. I would either wait for someone else to run by and send help to me or I would have to keep running. I was either going to be a victim or fighter through the pain and run. I knew instantly that I would never forgive myself if I didn’t keep going. I had trained for this relay for months. I had dedicated numerous hours to running, weight lifting, and selecting nutritional meals to prepare myself for this day. I could not stop! Tears filled my eyes as I forced my body to move forward. At first the pain was too severe to run, so I walked as fast as I could. Then shear will and determination took over and I found myself running as fast as I could straight up into the darkness. Approaching what felt like might be halfway through this leg, I wondered if I had lost too much blood to run. Was I being foolish? Would I pass out? Shortly my body went numb, I could not feel any pain at all; I ran robotically for what felt like hours.
Eventually, I could see the light of the exchange point up ahead. As I approached, I wondered what I would look like running in. What would the crowd of people think who were convened there? Other teams, spectators, friends and teammates were all there. Would they think I had failed? I fell, how embarrassing! I reached out my hand to extend the baton to the next runner, when I realized it was covered with blood. He looked at it and then at me in horror as he mouthed the words “Are you okay?” below the din of the crowd. I shoved him away screaming, “Run!” before looking down to assess the damage myself. I was covered in blood and, worst of all, my fingers were twisted and swollen in a very disconcerting way. I limped over to my team and the friends that had come to watch me run only to see the same looks of horror I had received at the exchange point. My injuries were quickly assessed and I was firmly admonished to leave immediately for the emergency room. My protests were met with logical arguments and pleas for me to be rational. It was clear to all of us that several of my fingers were broken. We could only speculate as to the extent of my additional injuries that were under the crusty layer of red that now covered my skin. “I can’t stop now!” I insisted. “If I didn’t stop when I was out there alone, I am certainly not going to stop now. I have trained too long and too hard for this event. I will go to the emergency room after my last leg is completed tomorrow afternoon!” Eventually, my friends and teammates conceded and dutifully attended to my wounds. My fingers were badly bruised and extremely swollen now as they twisted painfully into one another in a way that made them hard to look at. My team captain carefully wrapped popsicle sticks to splint my hand, as well as protecting my knees with plenty of gauze and tape.
Twelve hours later with no sleep, poor nutrition, and a significant loss of blood, it was time for my final leg. My body was screaming at me to go home and rest. I felt it was literally impossible for me to complete what I had disciplined my body to do. I needed help; I could not make it alone. It was then I decided to ask one of my teammates, who also happened to be one of my seminary professors, to run my final leg with me. He had come with our team to support his sons that were participating that year. He was an experienced and extremely fit runner. I knew he could be the support and encouragement I would need to end my race well. He gladly accepted my invitation and together we crossed my finish line that afternoon before I obediently headed off to the hospital.
At times, you will fall on your journey too, usually as a result of a significant relationship. At that moment your enemy will be right there to tell you that you are a failure and a fraud, whispering, “Who do you think you are? You have attempted to discipline yourself to walk in obedience and now look at you; you can’t even get through the day without falling down!” Remember, shame is a demonic identity. It is sent to confirm the lies of The Betrayer and keep us from believing what our Heavenly Father has told us is true. We must claim our power, love, and self-discipline so we can get back up and keep running after we fall. We have trained too hard and too long to quit now. We must keep striving to be like Jesus no matter what comes against us and no matter how badly we are assaulted. We can, and we will when we remember we are His Beloved.
When he hits us with shame, our first reaction is to look around to see if anyone else saw us fall. What will they think?
When will I ever succeed at anything?
Do you ever feel overcome with these thoughts?
When shame first hits, you must decide what you will choose. Will you get back up, looking for His majesty and glory?
It is the truth that you are His Beloved. Embracing this truth will keep you from stumbling again and empower you to finish your race well. Claim the truth of His Love right now. It is His Agape Love that will make you want Him more than anyone or anything else.
Choose today, to not go down the spiral of shame and condemnation that makes you believe you will never run successfully again.
To read more on this topic order Kerri's book