Unity is Found in the Process by Anonymous
When the Lord called me to run this race, I was excited but had not evaluated what it really was that the Lord had asked me to do. I didn’t ask any questions, I just said, “ok Lord, if that’s what you want”. I had not run any distance in years, let alone 3.1 miles. I was in store for quite a journey to say the least.
The first thing I did was get a gym membership, found the treadmill and started running. Well, that didn’t go so well. I ran maybe 1/5 of a mile and started getting the dreaded stitch in the side pain. So, I just started walking as fast as I could with my hands over my head. After about a week of walking on different inclines at a decent speed for a half hour or so, I decided to give running a shot. I started running at a jogging pace and could go about a half mile without stopping. I was pleased with it seeing that I was in a wheelchair in the beginning of December of 2015, I had come a long way. The next time I ran a little further, and a little further, and a little further. I eventually could run 3.5 miles on the treadmill. I wasn’t running fast, but I went the distance and that was exciting. It was the first time that I really believed that I could do this.
The next day I decided to go out to the Nike outlet and get the best pair of running shoes that I could afford. I got home and strapped on these bright, neon orange running shoes that looked like flames on my feet; put on some board shorts and a basketball jersey, and walked downstairs from my apartment. I started stretching and I thought to myself, “I got this.” I even looked the part. I got about 1/5 of a mile down the paved road and I had to stop, I was out of breath. My legs were weak and I was a pathetic mess. I thought to myself, “man what the heck is going on?!?! I thought that these shoes were supposed to make my feet lighter?” They were the same kind of shoes that professional runners would wear, you could literally feel the wind on your feet as you ran.
So, I started a diet, and really tried to be conscious of my calorie and carb intake. I kept a focus on foods that could give me energy without adding weight. At the time, I began this I was 235lbs. It was taking some major discipline to cut out a lot of the foods I loved, but I knew if I was going to complete the mission that Lord has called me to that I was going to have to keep my eyes on the bigger picture, rather than what looked good to my eyes and my stomach.
So back to the treadmill I went, now with flames on my feet. Much to my surprise, I was able to finish my 3.1 mile workout, I stepped off the treadmill and just stared at it. Something caught my attention about that treadmill. On the side, it said “Flex Deck”. That’s when it hit me, the treadmill running surface had some give to it. I got up on the treadmill and was jumping on it a little bit and noticed that there is not a lot of resistance, it had some bounce back to it. The road, on the other hand, has no bounce back to the pavement. The next day I went to the gym and strapped on a 50lb weight vest, and began walking on the treadmill on a slight incline at a good speed. Not only did I need to be able to run the distance, but my legs needed to get stronger to endure the level of resistance that pavement offered. Just because I could run the distance in a controlled situation in a gym, did not mean that I could go run the distance out on the pavement where there’s no specially engineered machine to help me run. There’s nothing forcing my legs to move, and that's where it comes down to willpower.
And that's where I am at right now, starting to run on surfaces where there is a little more resistance, and a little more, and a little more. I have a goal of Feb 15th to start running on pavement full time to prepare for the 5k which is a pavement course. I’m working on strengthening my entire my body because when you're running, there are parts of your body that are not an obvious necessity to running; but when you end up with a weakness, you realize that all parts of the body work together to get the task accomplished.
I’m sharing all that to say this. When the Lord spoke to me and said “Unify” I immediately looked toward the running of the race and saw many people gathered in the name of Jesus pushing themselves beyond their limits for a great cause. Looking back to the day He said that, I now see this: Unity happens way before you ever arrive at the race, Unity happens when you go through the process. When you realize, the Father is teaching you one of the greatest lessons of your life in the preparation for the race. It's so easy to go to the church where everyone loves you, there’s great support, no one is challenging what you are learning, and think to yourself that you can go out and teach others yourself. So, you go out into the real world, where there is resistance, no forgiveness, and instead of support, you run into persecution. You return home possibly discouraged and not understanding why it didn’t go the way you thought it would. I mean, you have been taught solid teachings. You have your Bible, you look the part, but it was hard, in fact, you might even consider it a complete failure. I must encourage you, because if you have been through this very situation you were just taught one of the most important lessons of your walk with God. Just like preparing for the 5k, this is a journey, not a quick lesson. There are no shortcuts in the Kingdom. You can look the part, you can even have the best study Bible available on the planet, and be taught by the best teachers out there, but in the end, it comes down to obedience and submission. (for though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes Prov 24:16)
Just like the diet that I have preparing for the 5k, in our spiritual walk we must also be disciplined to have a spiritual diet. We need to be spending time in the Word of God, communing with Jesus, and meditating on the principles of the Kingdom. During this time of growth, there are many things that you may have loved to partake in that you just can’t anymore. I would like to have a big cheeseburger for lunch, but that would set me back as I train for the race. The enemy would love for us to receive guilt, self-condemnation, and regret. (so that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes. 2 Cor 2:11 )
We are in a season where God is revealing purposes and destinies, but let’s not get so focused on the purpose that we miss God in the process. In the beginning, God formed man and then gave him a purpose. I encourage you to let Him form you. During this time of preparation for His purpose of your life, you will go through many tests and trials, you will go through persecution, and you will meet different levels of resistance. (Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing James 1:2-4)
In conclusion, I can’t guarantee you that if you come run with us in Ponte Vedra on March 25th that you will have this amazing experience and will go home changed forever. I can only tell you what God says; (For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them." Matthew 18:20). This endurance race is called “FSM Run with a Mission” and our team is called “Unity”. I pray that whether you decide to join us or not, that you find unity with Jesus in the process.
I pray that the light is turned on for you always. I pray that whatever season of life you are in, that you can see Jesus there with you. We are all headed toward a purpose, but the events that take place are in the preparation where God forms you. (I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back. Philippians 3:12-14 MSG). We all need each other, and if you think your purpose is insignificant I encourage you that muscles that are usually defined, are only seen because of parts of the body that are supporting them from the inside. (But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it 1 Cor 12:18 NLT) If you decide to join us for the run, I look forward to hearing about how you met Jesus in the process. Faith comes by hearing the testimonies of others. If you are going to run, run with a mission to see Jesus change your life and the lives of others.
Psalms 133:1 - How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!
Hebrews 12:1-13 - 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. In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.