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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Running with God

I had the opportunity to attend a Tenth Avenue North concert last night. Loved getting to hear Brenton Brown as well, and the opener chick (Audrey Assad) was unbelievably good. However, it was way after midnight when I got to bed. And I had been up since 4:30. I turned off the alarm, looking forward to some good sleeping in on a rainy morning.

My God had other plans. I woke up this morning around 5:30 and could not go back to sleep. I tried to lay in bed and listen to the rain and relax, but my body was screaming to go run. I was determined to ignore it till at least 7, but then God began to talk. "Come on, let's go for a run. Just you and me."

Since my kitchen timer has disappeared (I suspect friends who are embarrassed by my ghetto running), I am having to listen to the ipod on my phone and use its timer. I can't do Pandora and use the timer at the same time, can't have 2 apps open simultaneously. I scrolled down to my playlist that I recently posted on itunes, "LaRissa's worship stuff" and hit shuffle.

I barely had time to finish my 3 minute walking warm-up before I was lost in worship and needed to run. That first run interval was 10 minutes. No lie. I just doubled my running time. After that I alternated 2-3 minute running with 1-2 minutes of walking. It was a great run.

When I left the house, darkness engulfed me. Literally, emotionally, and spiritually. The air was heavy with humidity, but there wasn't a drop of rain falling. I felt a little cheated that I wasn't going to get to run in the rain. Then God taught me an amazing lesson. Daylight crept in slowly as I ran that second mile. I couldn't see the sun, but my path became clearer and better lit. It was not bright, but I could find my way. Just because I can't see God doesn't mean that He's not lighting my way.

This is my life right now. I am having issues with not being able to fully see God's plan in my life, and have been horribly discouraged. God reminded me that I do not have to see the full light of his plan to trust him and begin following him. I began running while it was still dark. It was only after 30 minutes that I could clearly see where I was going, and even then I did not have the full light of the day. I do not have to see where we are going to be able to worship Him.

On this note of surrender, I ran up "the hill" - the one where I had the incredible running in the rain experience several weeks ago. The same song "All these Words" began to play as the rain began to pour. Well of course then I couldn't head home as God used the rain to remind me how much He loves me. It was, for me, such an amazing gift of His love and His presence this morning. I was a reminder that God's got my life in his hands, all I need to do is run after Him and pursue Him with love and passion. Then the next song, "Bring the Rain" began to play. (Another song from the running in the rain day) I ran and cried. And cried and ran, long past my three mile mark but unable to give up being in God's presence. More good stuff played in my headphones as I worshiped a God that created the stars and loves me. Crowder's new song "How He Loves" and Starfield's, "Holy Is Our God."

I can't express to you how amazed I was this morning as I realized that I was not running alone. I am not running alone as my feet are hitting the pavement, and I am not running alone as I muddle through this thing called life. God is running alongside me. I don't get it. I don't get how in the world a God who could be spending time with anybody on the planet would ever choose to spend time with me. And not just a casual encounter here and there in my life, but actually a very real physical experience of His love pouring out on me as the rain soaked through my clothes and dripped off my skin. So I don't understand it at all, but I am so very grateful that God is teaching me what it means to fall desperately and hopelessly in love with Him. And what it feels like to experience Him loving me.

So my prayer is that God would rain down on us all. God, pour out your love, your hope, your grace and your presence at The Crossroads tomorrow. But God, I don't wait until tomorrow to spend more time with you. Seek me out today and help me to search for your heart and your purposes today. God remind me continually of your greatness and your might and your power and your love. Your unbelievably beautifully amazing love. Thank you that you are still in the business of bringing beauty from ashes.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Love your enemies

What to write about tonight? I've been so crazy busy, but I don't know that it's anything interesting or insightful. I have lots of stuff on my mind - there's several cool and exciting things going on with some of my friends and with The Crossroads that I am not free to talk about yet, but also several deep prayer needs from my own life and the lives of my friends that are not internet material. So my mind is racing, hunting for something to write about that will not get me into any trouble.

I was thinking about something earlier this evening though that might be blog worthy. Sunday afternoon we took our children out to eat at a fairly nice restaurant along with some of our friends. James apparently accidentally sprayed spit on Grace when he was talking. So being my hot headed daughter (don't know where she gets that), she hocked one up and spit back at him in his face. Being my hot headed son (don't know where he gets that either), James decked her in the nose. Being overly dramatic (nope, don't know where that comes from either), Grace began screaming at the top of her lungs in the restaurant while holding her nose. They were suitably punished by their dad who controls his temper much better than me. They were not fed any lunch and were forced to sit in the car while the rest of us enjoyed a very leisurely dinner. Even this afternoon they were yelling at each other in the car until I had to enforce a zero talking policy until we reached home. TEENS!

But a few hours ago we were hanging out in the living room, and James was telling Grace all the nice stuff he's heard about her at the middle school from her teachers. She lit up like a christmas tree. She loves words of affirmation. They were suddenly the very best of friends. She was then telling him congratulations on making the A string football team as a starter. They chatted about teachers and classes and homework and were suddenly the very best friends ever. I was frankly just weirded out. These kids have been totally hateful to each other lately and abruptly shifted gears.

It made me think through the depth of the family relationship. It did not matter that my children had hated each other just a few days ago. They are family and family loves each other no matter what. Family looks for opportunities to build each other up. They stick up for each other and love each other like crazy. Sometimes they may go through tough times or even intense times of dislike, but they still love each other.

I was reminded of the importance of that depth of love relationship with our church family. I want to continue to see The Crossroads loving each other like family. Warts and all. I want to love other people like that, and I want to be loved that way. I want to seek opportunities to affirm my friends and to forgive my enemies and treat them with value and respect. It's amazing how many lessons I learn from watching my children!