Sunday, December 29, 2013

"Not I, But the Grace of God.."

A few weeks ago, I got a message from my coach saying that our top 5 girls need to be at the Knox News Sentinel between such and such times on that Wednesday for pictures.  "Makenzie needs to be there at 5:45 and wear her shoes and uniform for runner of the year photos."  Well I was totally confused.  This whole thing went right over my head.
  First off, I thought it was that day (Monday), and I could not figure out why I was the only one who needed shoes and a uniform and a specific time either.  So here I was, at home by myself, calling to no avail my parents that would not answer.  I was freaking out because I thought that we had to leave for Knoxville in the next few minutes, but no one was going to be home to leave.  So a few minutes later I went back and very carefully re-read the message from Coach Farmer.  Oh.  "Thank goodness; it's Wednesday, not today," I thought.  "OH MY! WHAT? OH MAN! OH MAN!" was about all the words that would come out.  Yeah, that said runner of the year.  I finally realized that I had been chosen for the PrepXtra Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year by the Knoxville News Sentinel, the main East Tennessee newspaper.
I remember being younger, just really getting into running, my dad would show me these guys and girls selected for this, and I would think, "Whoa, that would be the coolest thing!  These people are awesome!"  I never would have thought it would be me.  That's kinda why it took me so long to figure out what was going on when Farmer just flat-out told me.  I have always admired runners who receive awards like this and many others.
I knew this season was a blessing; more things happened than I would have ever imagined possible.  Winning a state championship by a very wide margin, for example.
God set all these things into action for one purpose, His purpose.  I always pray a lot for God to take my life and use me in whatever ways He sees fit for His glory.  He has presented so many opportunities for our team to be in situations for others to see Him working through us.  "Nothing is impossible with God."  (Luke 1:37)  We worked so hard all season with the goal of a championship on our mind, pushing us forward from race to race.  More importantly than everything, we had faith in God that He would prepare us for whatever we may be challenged with.  Yes, there were painful days, sickness and soreness, defeats in races, and competition within the team.  All of that made us stronger.  I believe that God brought the girls, families, and coaches of our team together to encourage each other to be bold in sharing what we are here for.  We have been given talents by God and for God.  We must "give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for [us] in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:18
I cannot find words to say how blessed I am to have this opportunity to share with so many others how God gives so much strength, rewards the faithful, and is just flat-out good and loving.
It's not me; it's Him at work.
Like I had said earlier in the season, one of my all-time favorite Bible verses of this season is
1 Corinthians 15:10, "By the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace to me was not without effect.  No, I worked hard...yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me."
That's why I titled this post with part of that verse.  It just means so much to me and is a daily reminder of why God's word tells us to be humble.  "Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies."  1 Corinthians 6:19-20.  I am not my own.  Another way to  put the verse above (Luke 1:37)--without God, I can do nothing.  “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing."  John 15:5
There is a piece of the article on my school system's Facebook page, and the whole thing is in the Knox News Sentinel.
My coach, Raymond Farmer, was also one of the two selected for Coach of the Year.
(The other 4 girls from our team were on the PrepXtra first team.  They got an individual picture taken and placed in the sports section with around 10 other girls from the area.  That Wednesday, I did the same photo and went to the pro photographer for the pictured-above shoot.)