For all of you who don’t know me well…or maybe even at all, let me start by saying I used to be a quitter. Not just an every once in the blue moon quitter either. I’m talking, an all of the time, in almost everything I set out to do sort of way. I still haven’t put my finger on the specifics of why I was notorious for that….but this I do know: today, I’m NOT a quitter. I’m also not necessarily the fastest finisher, but by God’s grace and some serious perseverance, I will finish.
Prime example…years ago I signed up to run a marathon in Hawaii with a close friend of mine. Yes, a FULL 26.2 miles. I trained, I raised a lot of money for a cancer foundation…heck, I even had my trip planned. And let me tell you, from being a person who has never really enjoyed running or been considered an athlete for my entire life—I have NO idea why I thought this would help me overcome that, but nevertheless, I must have figured it was worth a shot. Well, it was a terrible idea. What did it do for me though? It began to show me what a good quitter I was. Honestly, I had every good excuse in the book to quit. Heck, I even convinced myself of some of those reasons. September 11th had just happened and I was terrified to get on a plane. TERRIFIED. Not to mention I began to have doubts if I could actually survive a full marathon. And like hell if my ego and insecurities would allow me to be the last to cross the finish line!!! So between those seemingly gigantic fears, I backed out. Pulled the plug. Quit. So today, almost 15 years later, it’s been a bit of a bittersweet day for me because I just signed up for a 15k race in 2 weeks. Now, even though this is far less than my 26.2 mile challenge, it’s still a 9.3 mile challenge…and for someone like myself who isn’t a ‘natural born athlete’…well, it’s just plain hard….not to mention I’m learning that physical endurance at 33 is much harder to come by than at 19. But that seems to be the place God has me right now, building endurance…as I am fully surrendered to Him in the most raw and scary way…I keep hearing Him say—Keeley, you aren’t a quitter. Nor did I make you to be an Olympic runner. But what you are, is mine. I told you I can redeem every part of your story—from the biggest of sin—right down to your choices to quit things you set out to start. Let me show you how capable my strength is…because I think you’ve already learned that your own human strength is no match for my plan, which sometimes, is going to require only power I can provide. And can I just tell you…what He said to me there is so true! There have been times in this process I know it is only by his strength, power and grace alone which have gotten me through. Honestly, there hasn’t been much of anything about this journey to which I would call easy. But you want to know what has been harder? Fighting with Him on how it needs to happen or what it ‘should’ look like. It’s like I keep noticing these two paths in front of me and from a first glance……well, let’s just say they both appear to suck!
Take a look at the path on the left. It is familiar. In fact, let’s call it just that—“Familiar Path”. Now I know what you’re thinking—what’s so bad about familiar?! Well honestly, more often than not, I think that’s the last place we need to be. Because familiar for me, leads right back to where I used to be. Which when I think about now, is gross and destined for a fiery pit. But it’s also appealing and comfortable because I lived there for so long. It’s like your favorite old pair of jeans. It’s the path that leads me to making fear based decisions….like quitting if something seems too daunting of a task or nearly impossible. It is the path that leads me back to addiction…it is the path that leads me straight back into a life of condemnation, guilt and shame. A place where I could care less about myself—-which in turn I now realize, gives me the inability to care for those around me no matter how hard I try! I told you this path sucked. Honestly, it’s the path that leads me to destruction, self-hatred and right into the arms of the enemy. So WHY would I even consider that nastiness an option you ask?! Because from the edge it looks a heck of a lot better than the path on the right…
There’s a giant, luminous cloud that covers nearly every mile of what I can see. Think torrential downpour type of a cloud. Rain. Winds. Who knows how bad it is going to get on this path. At the beginning of it, it’s so dark I can’t really make any light out at the end. Definitely not looking familiar in any way—and I most certainly wouldn’t compare it to my favorite jeans. More like these crazy back in style high wasted (and insanely uncomfortable) pants I’ve seen everywhere lately…I mean come on, who really can pull those things off besides MAYBE Jennifer Lopez?! They’re certainly not nice to my body type in particular…………..okay, I am now WAY off any track I was on. *If you haven’t seen the movie UP, I highly recommend it because that is what we would call a major “SQUIRREL” moment* Now, where was I…oh yes, back to the path on the right…”Unfamiliar Path” is what this one is. Yet despite it’s unknowns there is something about it that seems to be calling my name. There is a gentle whisper reminding me that at the end of every storm—-and even right in the middle of one, there’s peace. Calmness. A glimpse and promise of a rainbow. A smell of freshness all around that can’t be mistaken. The word that comes to mind is tranquil. Otherwise known to the English language as being ‘free from agitation of mind or spirit, free from disturbance or turmoil … quiet and peaceful’. But can I tell you something? Standing on the edges of these two paths as they appear side by side to me, it’s dumbfounding how much I have actually compared which one I try to determine is going to be easier—or might cause less pain! For a few months now I have found myself on more than one occasion asking God, REALLY?! This is the path you want me to go down? Are you sure? Because it seems awfully stormy and scary—-and let’s be real, you know just as much as I do God, that I CAN NOT pull off those blasted high wasted pants!!! And even if I could, they are SO darn uncomfortable—and then there’s the whisper again that reminds me that the easier way—the more known way—aka my old comfy jeans sort of way…is not the way at all. Yes, this Unfamiliar Path is uncomfortable, hard and even seems dark from first glance—-but the real question is, will you trust me?
I heard this story at church a few weeks ago about a mountain climber who went out climbing alone the day before his group did due to his excitement for the journey. Maybe he even thought the path was going to be familiar and safe, I don’t know. But either way, during his time out there, the weather drastically changed for the worse and he fell from his climb and was left hanging from a cliff unable to hoist himself to safety. Due to the darkness of the storm which had rolled in, he chose he would rather hang there through the storm and overnight until help came. Seemed like the safer choice right? Well, he was found the next morning by his fellow climbers frozen to death and dangling from a cliff…………which just so happened to be only a few feet from the ground. Can I tell you something? As I was looking this week at the path on the right, God connected these stories for me. This dangling climber and my path of unfamiliarity. I can’t tell you how many times lately I have said…”I feel like I’m slowly slipping off the edge of a cliff. Fighting so hard to keep from falling.” As dumb as it sounds, I’ve actually been fighting between these two paths. I have been fighting this process of walking into that damn storm, because in all honesty, it’s scary. And hard. And unknown. And I’ve been fighting the urge to return to comfortable. And just like the storm prevented that man from being able to see the truth I’m seeing that it can do the same with us in everyday battles. Yet if I look back at every time I have walked head first into that crazy storm, God shows up. He always has done his part if I am willing to do mine. Which mind you, has been no small feat seeing as how it has taken me doing things that I’ve never done before! It has taken clinging to HIS truth in a way I never have. It has taken courage. And lots of it. Perseverance. Great amounts of humility. Vulnerability and honesty. Patience. Much help from those who love me…and most of all, allowing my God to love me and use me in whatever way He desires—-surrendering….over and over. So I realized something this past week. God showed me so clearly….Keeley, cut your rope. That cliff that you’ve been teetering on, is not the problem. The problem is the fact that the storms prevent you from seeing me at times and so I’m asking you to cut your rope. Let go. I will catch you—-every. single. time. This path on the right IS going to be hard sometimes…I never said it would be easy. But simply put….where would you rather fall? Into the arms of the God who made you. Who loved you from before you were known. Or hang there to death just so you can fall back into that deceivingly safe, comfy pair of jeans that takes you back to the pit of hell? Okay God, I get it! I can see now that the path on the right doesn’t suck at all. From first glance it might appear scarier and more uncomfortable than Familiar Path, but let’s just say, looks can be deceiving—-and isn’t that just how the enemy tries to fool us?! Deception??? And let me tell you a thing about deception….it’s sneaky! Today, looking out my living room window it appeared to be a balmy 75 degrees outside…but when I trotted out our front door to the mailbox in my bare feet, a tank top and yoga pants…well let’s just say, 40 degrees and sunny looks very much the same as 75 degrees and sunny from inside the house. *SQUIRREL*
So today, I cut my rope. Fell off my so-called cliff (which ended up being more like a mole hill) and ever so graciously fell right into the arms of my Jesus. I am completely over the fight of ‘how’ this process of healing should be. I am over the fight of thinking it needs to look a certain way. I am over the struggle between the path on the left—and the path on the right. There is only one path which is an option for me. And I am on it. High wasters here I come! So while I rock my new pants and keep cutting away at this rope, I realize I am giving Jesus the reigns to many things He’s been patiently waiting for control of. Some of those being quite huge and others being as small as signing up and whole heartily committing to a 15k race in two weeks. And in case you think I’m 100% over my own ego and a few creeping insecurities…let me tell you I’m not! I am still SO afraid of being the last one to finish. Heck, I am nervous about even being able to complete a 9.3 mile run, seeing as how the farthest I have gone lately is barely half that. But today, God also reminded me—you do your part. I’ll do mine. Whether you cross that finish line first—or dead last—it’s irrelevant. What matters is trusting me to carry you through these times when your mind, body and sometimes even your soul says this is too much, I want to quit…so the question He asks yet again, WILL YOU TRUST ME? To which I reply…………..
On your mark, get set———GO!!!!
Hebrews 12 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, 2 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. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.