I didn’t want to wake up at six o’clock. I didn’t want to run one mile, let alone 12. However, I did it and left with no regrets. Did it hurt? Heck yes, these hips and knees are feeling closer to 30 than 20 with each passing day. Am I eager to do it again? No, but I will choose to because sometimes we do things that are good for us even though they hurt. Or because God asks us to do them and we know He wants what’s best for us.

Running hurts me in more ways than one. It hurts me physically because by mile six my body says ouch. It hurts my ego because I am not number one, or even close to the top 10. It hurts because going to bed early and waking up early are disciplines that I’m not fond of. All in all, running forces me to sacrifice my selfish desires and I’ve realized I’m as selfish as they come. Yes, you read that correctly. I’ll say it louder for the people in the back: I’m selfish.

When something requires a large sacrifice on my part, especially with my time, energy, or money, I’d rather not have any part of it. I like to do things that come easy to me or fit naturally into my schedule – things that cost me very little.

Ironically, this goes against everything God teaches me through His word and through the people who follow Him best. These three verses have been on my mind as I practice intentionally living with open hands and an open heart.

Am I living today to serve or be served? Mark 10:45 “Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. That is what the Son of Man has done: He came to serve, not to be served—and then to give away his life in exchange for many who are held hostage.”

Am I living today helping others get ahead or working my way to the top? Philippians 2:4 “If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.”

Am I listening to God’s voice or going about my day as if I know it all? Proverbs 3:9 “Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all. Run to God! Run from evil! Your body will glow with health, your very bones will vibrate with life! Honor God with everything you own; give him the first and the best.”

I didn’t share this to let the world know, “Hey! Look at us! We got up and ran this morning!” Those kinds of posts – and I’m guilty of them at times – stir comparison and feelings of inadequacy, regardless of the intention behind them. My intention is to prompt you to ask yourself a simple question…

What do you feel God tugging on your heart to do lately, friend?

It probably isn’t to run a marathon, but what do I know? Maybe it’s put your feet up or say no. Maybe it’s breaking off a toxic relationship. Perhaps He’s asking you to show up for an event you’re anxious about or set aside one day each week to be off social media. I don’t have a clue what it is He’s nudging you towards, but I know He has a purpose in mind when He does.

When God asked me to run the Chicago marathon the day Soul City Church first talked about it, I shrugged it off and whispered to my husband, “maybe next year.” But God…He refuses to be ignored and His will cannot be suppressed.

One month later, I heard it again. The kindest, purest small voice. Go. Run for the ones who can’t. Run for the families who need water in Africa. Raise the funds. Run this race and remember that you need me. I tried to shush God, but He pulled out all the stops.

Do this for Frankie.

My busy-self stopped in my tracks so fast that the skid marks will forever be imprinted on our hardwood floors. That was it. God had me at the mention of his name. The face of the string-bean boy I fell head over heels for in Zambia appeared in my mind. His lanky, shoeless, dirty feet and his wide, cheesy smile. I thought of my friend Amy and her husband, the beautiful mission work they do with the people in Zambia. I thought about how hot and utterly exhausted I was during my time there; how desperately I craved water and couldn’t get enough of it. The thought of Frankie, or anyone for that matter, not having access to clean water broke me. I couldn’t not DO any longer.

I signed up for the marathon, late, per usual. 😉 I began training and invited my mom (a rockstar runner!) to join me.

Frankie really did change my life forever and God won’t ever let me forget it. I love that sweet boy and these miles are for him.

Your situation might look entirely different than mine, but I know God is always at work. What is it He’s nudging you to do? I pray you listen and even when you don’t, just like me, I pray He pulls out all the stops on you.

If you have a little extra in your budget this month and would like to donate to World Vision in support of my fundraiser through the marathon, here is the link. You are making a difference in a world that feels so big, but is so small in His hands.

With hands that are beginning to open wider,

Manda

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This is heart warming to me and speaks deep to my soul. I feel super encouraged by this post. Thanks again, Manda. Africa is one place my heart longs to go because of the multiple visions God has given me. I can only imagine the way it completely stopped you in your tracks when God said do it for Frankie. Thank you for the GREAT encouragement on the first day of a new month 🙂 I definitely know what God is nudging me to do and I’m going to COMMIT to doing it and NOT delaying it.

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That’s AWESOME to hear, Abby! Can’t wait to see how your obedience brings blessings in your life.

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