How to stop racing (and still win)
I remember my very first race at my very first track and field day in the third grade at Victor Lauriston Public school. My gangly and accident-prone stick legs finally did something right. I crossed that finish line before all of my peers. I crossed that line… but looking back, I see that I never stopped running. I never stopped racing from that moment until now.
By the time I was 23 years old I was a business owner and employer, a service provider to hundreds, an editor-in-chief of a woman’s magazine, a worship leader and involved in almost every musical or production that my older sister directed at our old church. My husband and I hosted dinners all the time… sometimes reaching a guest list of 150 people. We travelled. We were both constantly on the go and insanely busy. But I just kept “running the race that was set before me” because I was headed somewhere important… and everyone knows that you don’t stop in the middle of a race.
But there was this unsettling in my heart. There was always something better to obtain, that was always just outside of my grasp. I remember one day finally realizing there might be something wrong with me as I stood on the cobblestone streets of Rome, planning my next trip and subconsciously packing my bags to go home. As always, I was fixated on the next big thing and never able to witness the miracle of the moment right in front of me.
In 2007, my dad was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. Despite my best intentions, I only made the 3-hour drive home to see him once in the 10 months that he dealt with chemo and radiation, fighting for his life. It seemed like every minute of every day was accounted for weeks in advance, like a giant snowball that had just been pushed downhill and I didn’t know how to stop it. It took his death, and all the guilt that I was of no comfort to him in those last few months for me to realize how selfish my lifestyle had become. Yes, I was providing jobs for people, and pouring my life into ministry… but encountering death like that shifted something in my soul. And I knew that I had never truly done anything for anyone else before. It had only ever been about my race. My life was whizzing by in a blur, spiraling out of control… and his death posed a critical question. What was I racing towards anyways? The end?
I stepped down from ministry, got pregnant and sold my business. And this, I believe is when my life finally got quiet enough that I could actually hear God’s voice and learn what it meant to “be still and know that He is God.” That time in His presence… I haven’t found anything on this earth quite like it. It was like, just being saturated in his love and acceptance put everything back in proper order. I wasn’t as important as I thought I was. I wasn’t as insignificant as I feared I might be. I was just His, and He was mine. And I started to understand that this moment, this day, this life was really His.
I am far from perfect. I still don’t make enough room for His presence in my daily life… and now that I have a couple of littles underfoot, be assured, I am finding it harder than ever to live in-the-moment. But every time I do make some room and acknowledge His presence in my day it is far more worthwhile than I would have guessed. I am catching glimpses of his glory in the simplest of moments. Glory that I believe is in every second of every day… and I want to get to the point where I catch every single one.
Is it so hard for us to accept that the God who does everything upside down and backwards might ask us to stop in the middle of our race? He who chose the manger. He who chose to be a washer-of-feet. He who chose the cross. He who chose a bunch of nobodies to change the world. Right now, He is choosing you and He is choosing me… not to do some great thing that matters. But rather He is saying, “Just BE with me. Let me teach you how to abide here. Let me change your perspectives. Let me heal your heart… and then everything that you do will matter.”
Is your life too full and whizzing by too fast?
Are you missing irreplaceable moments?
Do you really want to get to the finish line of your life in such a hurry?
Or perhaps, could all of us nobodies catch a glimpse of Somebody worth slowing down for?
I am in the middle of my race… and I am stopping.
Because He has already proven to be the most magnificent prize that I ever could have hoped for.