Sunday, April 12, 2015

Mind Over Matter

What a day. 
One thing I like about track better than cross country is that the races are usually not until the afternoon. I CAN SLEEP IN. In cross country season, Saturday race days are the earliest I get up. We usually travel all day Friday, too, but with track, it's a bit more relaxed. It was a kinda rough sleep to start with, but after finally getting myself woken up, I just had a different kind of feeling about the day. 
On the car ride up there, I did some Bible study with the stuff I've been looking at lately, and stuff just kept coming. One verse that I have been making my focus the past few weeks is Hebrews 12:1-2, "...let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles and run with perseverance the race marked out for us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith..."  not only because it makes sense with running, but every part of life.  This world is full of distractions, but Christ is what we should fix our thoughts on.  That's how life is found.  I also shared a picture that I had found earlier in the week that made me think of one of the girls I look up to in our student ministry at FBC, Kristen Curetin.  A few years ago, when we first got to really know each other, we were having a blast in Gatlinburg at the Abide girls' retreat, which was actually happening again this same weekend, so this picture had multiple meanings, as I shared on my Facebook and Instagram.  She reminds me to "keep my spiritual glasses on!" as I go through each day.
There was another verse that I had noted in my phone notepad to go back and look at, but I didn't remember what it was, so I decided to go find out.  There was no doubt that God led me to this verse at this time!  2 Timothy 1:7, "For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline."  It was indescribable how hard this hit me at this moment!  Exactly what I needed.  When I went back onto the track after two weeks since my last race, I couldn't be fearful of what may or may not happen, best or worst case scenario; God gives me power!  Fear, I have to remind myself, is a lack of faith.  God is love, and love drives out fear (1 John 4:8).  No matter the outcome of a single race, which is over and done with in a matter of minutes, the way I handle my actions means so much more.  I have to have that love and discipline every step I take, because, like the 1st part of Hebrews 12:1 says, "..we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses.."  I am called to "live a life of love ,(Ephesians 5:2)" as love is "the most excellent way" to bring people to Christ (1 Corinthians 12:31)
Man, was I fired up and ready to go!
These verses were what I was using for guidance as I went out into the world this day, and still now.
 We got to Tennessee High in Bristol for the Frank Carver Invitational as the rolling schedule was about to start. There was some wind, but the sun was out! (And by the end of the day, people's tan lines were great proof). My first event was one that I had been struggling with this season, the 1600. My times have gotten a but better each race, but just not what I have done before. Turns out, this race didn't feel good either. Awful actually. I was really frustrated with all this that I don't understand, but again I have to remember that there are some things in life that we aren't supposed to understand. God knows and that's what matters. In my long break, I got to talk to some people and got some great encouragement, including a coach from another team that I've gotten to know over the past couple years.  He was confident in what I could do, just that it looked like I was trying harder than I usually do.  Maybe I need to just let go and let it happen.  I knew that was it.  I run so much better when I just do it for the fun of it!  I knew that God didn't give me that feeling about today for nothing, but still walking up to that line, I wasn't feeling fresh in my legs. 
A great song came to my mind:  Strong Enough by Matthew West.  Going back later and searching these lyrics was awesome to me, because it was yet another thing God sent me that sums up the past few weeks.
Runners take your mark--BANG
Sometimes that's all it takes. 
When I take off from that line, and God takes over.
 I just need to let my mind go! Stress is a sickness that can ruin more than your health. It's your attitude and motivation for life too. It's how the devil diverts your attention away from the plans God has for you. Once I got in this race, I just let it all go and ran my race, not worrying about anything else. Throwing off all these worldly things that hinder me, and running with perseverance the race that I am in, I turned my focus to Jesus instead of everything else.  And ya know what?  I felt totally different.  Where your mind is focused plays an incredible role in our every circumstance.  If you're not right with God, how could anything else ever possibly turn out right?  He is in control!  When we try to change what's already set in stone becuase it is what we want, anxiety sets in because that can never happen.  We can't control everything.
No, it still wasn't my fastest race, but it was just what I needed.  As I ran each step, I felt better and faster, and a peace came over me that I know only the Lord gives.
With about 2 laps to go, I felt even lighter on my feet and in my mind, and a verse came to me that I had looked at and created a wallpaper picture for earlier in the week.
At this time, the verse had a different meaning to it, as I felt it literally, physically and spiritually!  I trusted that God was in charge of my body and would give it strength to do whatever He had planned, and I felt renewed, soaring, all the way to the finish.
Coach Murrell, who I had talked to earlier, was on the back stretch, the quiet side of the track, giving me great encouragement.  Relax...flow...looking great...
As I counted down the last few hundreds as I passed each mark, my heart continued to rejoice!  Rounding the 200-to-go curve, Coach Murrell said something about being an artist and this is how I express myself--yes--this is what God gave me and running freely is how I use it to express my thanks and give back to Him.
Upon finishing, it felt like a weight had been lifted.
Mom also took some pictures and videos during the race, and it was obvious, to me and others watching, that the 3200 was like a totally different person out there racing than who was in the 1600.
Satan is always out there looking for ways to trip us up (1 Peter 5:8-9), but we can't let that get us down.  His goal is to keep us from being who God intends for us to be, but as Mom and I have been saying lately, we can't give the devil that victory.  God wants us to have full and free life (John 10:10), and that is a feeling that I desire for everyone to get to experience.
The way things were all tying together didn't stop Saturday, though!
Pastor Dean's sermon Sunday morning was on point, too!  He continued his "Amazing Love, How Can it Be?" series, with message #3:  "In All I Do I Honor You" based on Romans 12.  I laughed in my head as I am continually amazed at how often God speaks if we are just willing to listen.  Pastor Dean also used a passage that I have been reading lately, from Philippians 3:20-21 about being patient with life here on earth, because we are awaiting a permanent meeting with our Savior, "...who, by the power that enables Him to bring everything under His control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body."
The message went on to outline the Romans passage, as we are to give the best of our lives for Him because He gave His entire life for us.  Again, we can't get caught up in the world, but "be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2)"
Yet another instance of "Mind over Matter"
God is constantly pouring out His grace and mercy more than we can even imagine...just look for it!  It will change your whole outlook on life.