RUNNING AIMLESSLY: by jodi stilp


The unanticipated theme of this year for our family has been Managing the Chaos. Since school started this fall Curt and I have fought to manage our personal schedules, our family schedule, our time together as a couple, and our time with our kids.  We've had periods of balance but the majority of this school year I've been functioning on the brink of Could I Be Any More Overwhelmed.  It's not a place I like to be.

Earlier this month, one of our pastors was preaching from I Corinthians 9:24-27.  It's a passage I love because Paul uses the analogy of running.  He says, "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.  Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly..."

Duh. I seldom go for a run, long or short, without mapping out my course ahead of time.  I know how far I'm going to run, what route I'm going to take, and the hills and terrain challenges I'll face.  Unless I'm injured, I don't sway from the course. The few times I've skipped mapping my run ahead of time have resulted in disaster.  Inevitably I'll run too far, take too long and send Curt into a panic, or strain something from running a distance my body isn’t equipped to handle.

I found a can't-live-without resource. It allows me to plot my exact course, tells me total distance covered, tracks elevation gain and loss, and even has a place to mark where to take a potty break.  I'm not sure how I ever trained successfully before I found this website.

I started this school year with a rough draft of the route I wanted to run this year, but unexpected challenges and extra miles I didn't plan on forced me way off course.  Somewhere along the line I lost focus and began running aimlessly.  No wonder I've been so exhausted and crippled in my attempts to rein in the chaos.  I haven't taken time to turn around, come home, recoup from my "injuries" and chart a new course.

But how do I do that? Phil said, "Don't ask what can I say no to.  Instead ask what am I called to say YES to." That one sentence brought the clarity I've been fumbling for and changed the way I evaluated my schedule challenges.  I've been saying no to some really great things, but I haven't been evaluating what I'm saying yes to in light of my calling.

I sat down with Jesus and we had a heart-to-heart.  I pointed out all the things I've said no to and threw myself a little party. The celebration lasted two seconds because the next thing I did was write down all the things I've said yes to.  As the list got longer and longer it became evident that some of the yes items didn't match my calling.  It was a total bummer.  I liked those activities.  A lot.  I didn't want to give them up, but I knew it was what I needed to do to run a focused race for this season in my life.

I John 5:3 says, "This is love for God: to obey his commands.  And His commands are not burdensome." I needed to obey God and make those "I'm sorry but I have to say no" phone calls.  It felt like a huge sacrifice, but the encouragement that my obedience demonstrated my love for God gave me the courage to pick up the phone.

It's been three weeks since I made those phone calls and it's taken every day of those three weeks to tame my crazy life. My schedule, for the first time in months, is finally free enough for me to say yes to the things God has called me to.  Praise the Lord, I am no longer running aimlessly.  This chica is running in a such a way as to get the prize!

Persevering With You,


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