Thursday, 28 April 2011

It's a Race to the Finish Line.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Hebrews 12 v1-3 are verses that are familiar to many of us and they are verses that are often read in meetings, encouraging us to keep going. The writer tells us that it is a race that we are running, that we will come up against things that hinder us and slow us down, things that try to get in the way and things that we have to persevere through.

It's a long race, not a sprint and not even a marathon, but one that starts as soon as we accept Jesus into our lives. It's marked out, there's a course that God wants us to run. There are places we need to get to so that we can complete the next stage.

Sometimes it's a race that can be really tough. Sometimes, we are left wondering why stuff has happened and why prayers weren't answered the way we wanted them to be. Surely, if we are asking God for good things, He'll let us have them?

When we are bringing things to God on a regular basis, surely He will do what we expect Him to do?

And then, the answer we get is not what we asked for. The prayers we've lifted up aren't changing the situation as we see it and the many hours we've pleaded seem to have been in vain.

But you see, God is rather Big. In fact He's bigger than everything else. This is where our prayers and ideas of what we wanted to happen, fall apart. When we pray expecting a certain answer and then we don't get it, or the answer is something we didn't expect, there's a reason for it.

It's because God is BIG. He's HUGE! He doesn't fit in any box we want to put Him into!

Thursday was a difficult day for me. During the afternoon, I received a text message, telling me that someone I'd been praying for had just passed away. I was in shock at first. This was a teenager who had a rare form of cancer that resulted in his leg being amputated. He was given the all clear and then within weeks, he'd been told that he had lung cancer.

I'd only met this guy once or twice and even then, it was when he was around 7 years old. He was the son of a workmate and had though I'd not been in contact since leaving the workplace, I'd been able to bring his dad to a celebration and pray for him and his son. 6 months after this, his son died. Hundreds of hours of prayer by many Christians and there was no miracle healing, no opportunity to pray with him or lay hands on him and no sign of a recovery.

The passage above came to me while I was pondering why he hadn't been healed. I'm sure I asked God for the right things, I'd prayed that God's will would be done in his life, that He would bring restoration and that the boy's testimony would reach many people for the good of God's kingdom. But then the Lord spoke to me. I was looking at the situation from my point of view, not Gods.

The Lord said to me that because of faithful believers who hadn't even met this boy, he'd had constant prayer and intercession poured into his life. He'd been soaked in the presence of God for the last 6 months of his life and had been lifted up into the heavens by many who shared the burden of his troubles.

This is a tough race. There are good and great times but there are also times of difficulty and sadness. Yet, if we fix our eyes on Jesus, who went through much worse than any of us will, we can begin to see what it is that we are supposed to be doing and learn from where we've been before.

I still don't know why this boy died. I still don't know why all those prayers for healing weren't answered with a 'YES', yet I know that God listened to each one of them. I know that God is sitting beside his parents in their despair, He is listening to the cries of his siblings. He hates that they've been put through this but can use a tragedy like this to benefit His kingdom.

I know that God is always good. I know that God always loves me. I know that God is still cheering me on, and that He's doing everything He can to help me. I know that one day, I'll understand why it had to happen this way.

On Friday, I'm going to the removal. I'm thankful that God has been so influential in my life over the last 6 months. I'm thankful that in God, there is always hope. I'm thankful that God has been with me all the way through this race. I'm thankful that God has used this to make me even more focused on Him. I'm thankful that in a week where we've celebrated one resurrection, I'm going to a funeral knowing that maybe, just maybe there'll be another. I'm thankful that God is renewing my mind so that I'm considering these things when I never did before. I'm thankful that there is always hope when we know Father. I'm thankful that God always knows best.

I don't want to put God in a box. It's pointless, He wouldn't fit anyway.
God is good despite the circumstances. Fix your eyes on Him and no matter what the enemy throws at you, God is good, and you will become more like Him.

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