It Took a Broken Foot to Run For God

My pastor recently gave a message describing how Jesus is our Good Shepherd. Being different than a hired keeper who might run away in the face of danger, the flock belonged to the shepherd who would stay and defend them. He had a genuine loving concern for what belonged to him. Jesus is that loving protector and caretaker for His flock. Jesus, the good shepherd’s purpose, is to give life and protect from destruction.  And although this next imagery may make those of us animal lovers shudder, it helps to confirm that sometimes love is shown in ways we don’t always like.  A shepherd would often break the leg(s) of his sheep to prevent them from running off into danger.  He would then carry that sheep over his shoulders down the path each day until its injuries healed.  While being held, the sheep grew to love and rely on the shepherd like never before.

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Oddly enough, I believe Jesus did this very thing to me.

Five years.   I had been living in this small town in Western Kentucky for five years and had yet to make any meaningful relationships.  I not only avoided bonding with the people; I also lacked a REAL one on one relationship with God.  I was, what I like to call, a “baby Christian” who had a history of anger and atheism, with little to no guidance and the life choices to prove it.  I had always been very independent and didn’t really care about having friends because I didn’t trust people.

Feeling convicted about not being a part of a church family, my husband and I began visiting some in the area and knew we had been led to the one we now call home.  After just a few weeks of attending, the Lord brought several women into my life that completely changed my heart.  My relationship with them grew stronger and stronger as I began to experience what can come from real love and encouragement.

One Sunday morning, one of those women invited me to a Run for God class. I wish I could illustrate the facial expression I made. You see, my words say one thing, but my face speaks from the heart. I laughed and said, “The only time I run is if something is chasing me.” With persistence from my friend and growing pant size, I conceded.  The way I understood it was that it was basically a couch to 5K training program with a devotional.   Little did I know that God was putting something into motion that would altogether transform my life.

I showed up for class each Saturday morning, bright and early (also outside of my character).  With each devotional and time spent running with God, it finally clicked. I can run because I am doing it for God.  I can make real friends because I am doing it for GodWhat would happen if I did everything in life, FOR GOD?

Ten weeks into the class, we all registered for a 5K in our town that promoted to suicide awareness.  As my first race ever, I had zero expectations for my outcome.  I just wanted to finish.  As they were calling out awards for age groups, they called my name as the third place winner.  It took me by surprise, but it didn’t take long for my pride and competitiveness to kick into overdrive.  I was already plotting the demise of the two women who beat me for first and second place.  Just as the Lord revealed what life could be like when you do it all for Him, He let me know very quickly what can happen when you begin to do it for yourself.

The very next day, I fell down a flight of stairs and broke my foot.  I would not be able to complete the 5K for our Run for God group.  Even though I was discouraged, I continued to go to class.  While others ran, I sat.  I sat and encouraged them as they struggled13237875_10208110454498173_1769253948085201728_n through the long runs. I SAT and read the Word.  I SAT and prayed.  I SAT, growing closer to God every day.

While still in what I called “the dreaded boot,” I sat and cheered as all of my new friends ran past me to complete their race.  My heart was full.   God had set me on a different track.  A race towards Him and onto the path He had planned for me.

We quickly started a second class, and I was asked to help instruct.  Still unable to run, I knew God meant for me to focus on the “God” portion of Run for God. To show others that training to run successfully mirrors training ourselves to walk successfully with Christ.  It takes work, commitment, sacrifice, discipline, and occasionally a boot.

Learning to put God first and dedicate all I do to Him, the ability to stand before a group and teach due to the confidence I gained through the Spirit, the forever friendships that I have made, are just a glimpse into how God transformed me…. all through a broken foot.

John 10:11-18

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.

“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

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Friends or Foes

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(Photo Credit: Cristen Smith https://www.facebook.com/cristen.smith.1656)

Last night, Monday to be exact I have been having a home Bible study for local women. I have really enjoyed the past two weeks we have gathered. Some are old friends some are brand spanking new. As I was listening to them speak, I repeatedly heard them bring up these words. I am lonely, I have little or no connection to my fellow sisters in the faith, I have never been mentored or discipled by another woman. To me, someone who is called to minister to other women realized at that moment that Jesus was giving me just what I prayed for and what I believe they had also longed for. Women’s Ministry is important, and I want to stress that. Women need ministering to, and there are important issues that need to be talked about and prayed about with other women.

I can’t be the only girl that seems like this?  I can’t be the only hungry girl for scriptures? I can’t be the only girl that wants mentorship? What I have found in six years of ministering to women is this:

  • Women acknowledge that they need Jesus on a more intimate level.
  • Women want to understand and rightfully divide scriptures.
  • Women want discipleship, fellowship, and friendship.

Cristen

(Photo credit: Cristen Smith https://www.facebook.com/cristen.smith.1656)

Those are the three major points I hear over and over again. Today I really want to address godly friendships and the scriptures that really give us insight into healthy and meaningful sisterhood relationships. I am reminded of this scripture

I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.

Psalm 119:11

This is how we navigate life, we store up the word in our hearts, so we know what the standard of relationships is and even when we choose wrong to help us navigate our way back to Jesus’ standard.

So here we go…

The first point I want to make is this:

Friendships can be essential or detrimental 

Here is scripture to help us have wisdom in our friendships with each other. Remember, iron sharpens iron. We can help each other with these guidelines and standards. Remember no one is perfect, but if we see these qualities, we can understand that these relationships will be detrimental to our hearts.

Proverbs 20:19English Standard Version (ESV)

19 Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets;
    therefore do not associate with a simple babbler.[a

 

  • Point being don’t associate with a gossip

 

Proverbs 22:24-25English Standard Version (ESV)

24 Make no friendship with a man given to anger,
    nor go with a wrathful man,
25 lest you learn his ways
    and entangle yourself in a snare.

English Standard Version (ESV)The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

  • Don’t associate with a person with a hot temper

Proverbs 24:21-22English Standard Version (ESV)

21 My son, fear the Lord and the king,
    and do not join with those who do otherwise,
22 for disaster will arise suddenly from them,
    and who knows the ruin that will come from them both?

  • Don’t associate with a disloyalty

 

Proverbs 28:7English Standard Version (ESV)

The one who keeps the law is a son with understanding,
    but a companion of gluttons shames his father.

  • Don’t associate with self-indulgence

Proverbs 29:3English Standard Version (ESV)

He who loves wisdom makes his father glad,
    but a companion of prostitutes squanders his wealth.

  • Don’t associate with immorality

 

Proverbs 4:23-27English Standard Version (ESV)

23 Keep your heart with all vigilance,
    for from it flow the springs of life.
24 Put away from you crooked speech,
    and put devious talk far from you.
25 Let your eyes look directly forward,
    and your gaze be straight before you.
26 Ponder[a] the path of your feet;
    then all your ways will be sure.
27 Do not swerve to the right or to the left;
    turn your foot away from evil.

  • Most importantly watch over your heart <3

 

Proverbs 13:20English Standard Version (ESV)

20 Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise,
    but the companion of fools will suffer harm.

 

  • Don’t associate with the fool

 

Friendship is a beautiful and an excellent thing, but they can be destructive and deadly too. Building godly friendships means we need to forget ourselves and ask ourselves these questions.

  • How can I build them up?
  • How can I meet their needs?

 

Another point I want to draw out is this are we willing to risk rejection? Sometimes we when we won’t settle for less we will get rejected by others. Are we prepared to risk that? Are we willing to love sacrificially? Another question I ask myself is this: Am I ready to love them at whatever costs? Am I willing to commit myself to their spiritual growth?

Friendship is not just taking, but a large part is giving your time, energy, and love. I am praying today we take each scripture and not apply them to others, but to ourselves and ask ourselves this question:  HOW DO I MEASURE UP AS A FRIEND TO THESE SCRIPTURES?

Lord, help us be good to one another. Lord, help us to cultivate beautiful and meaningful relationships with our fellow sisters. Help us, Lord, to be honest with you and ourselves on our weaknesses. Lord, I thank you so very much for setting the standard of love. Lord, I pray for each one of my sister-friends today. I ask that you would touch them and give them wisdom in how to be an excellent friend. Heal our broken spots, Lord so we can walk in love with one another. In the mighty name of Jesus, I ask these things. Amen!