The Marathon - Pastor to Pastor
Did you know that there are 776 marathons scheduled in the United States and Canada in 2019 alone?
The idea of participating in a marathon makes me squirm. Running and running without something chasing you just doesn’t seem like fun to me. However, I have a good buddy who thinks otherwise. Two or three times a year this guy spends half a day running a race. We’ve been friends for over 15 years and live nearby each other. Oftentimes I see him out on the street training, plugging along in his neon cut off shirt, headphones, and shorts that are a bit too short for my taste. He usually stops when he sees me and the conversation goes something like this.
Me: “Hey buddy!”. I wave as he stops in front of my house.
Him: ( Heavy breathing)
Me: “ How was it today?”
Him: ( Heavy breathing)
Me: How many did you get in?
Him: (Heavy Breathing) “Did eight“, more breathing.
Me: Nice man. Way to go! How many days until the race?”
Him: “A few weeks, gotta beat my time from last year.”
Me: I put my hand on his shoulder. “I’m sure you will man. You’ve been working hard. You know, one of these days I’m going to join you in one of these races.”
But wait - I have no desire to do a marathon.
I truly have zero intentions of ever joining him in one of those races. However, over the years I have frequently said to my friend, “maybe I’ll join you one of these times.”
The real question is why? Why do I say I’ll do something that I never plan on actually doing?
What makes me say something that takes away my credibility? After searching my heart, the answer hit me hard.. Not only do I think I can fool others, but I think I can fool myself. After all, I’m just saying what we all want to hear, right?
The bible says in Jeremiah 17:9 that “the heart is deceitful above all things, who can understand it?” I find that warning so true and applicable in our current culture. The heart of man naturally wants to see itself and project to others the most idealistic appearance it possibly can in order to be relevant. For this reason, we say what we need to in order to fool ourselves and others into seeing us in that perfect image and think good of us.
This deception may feel good in the moment but it is incredibly damaging to the soul.
In fact, I believe these white lies we tell ourselves repeatedly stunt our growth as children of God. They sabotage relationships that we have with others because we have to constantly maintain these stories with more deceit. Soon we find ourselves making decisions based on a false image rather than where we truly are in our walk of life. Surface problems then become our focus rather than asking the Lord to change us from the inside out.
So what’s the remedy? How do we stop the compulsion to fool ourselves? Two ideas come to mind:
1. Carefully inspect and locate areas where you haven’t been completely honest with yourself.
Take an in depth look at yourself and recognize where you are in need of improvement, and where you can allow God to come in and clean up. This introspection can be painful initially, but take the example of David the Psalmist and his request unto God in regards to this.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart: Try me, and know my thoughts;
And see if there be any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting.“
What strikes me about this is the invitation for God to come in and literally see if there is any wickedness inside of him. He’s asking for the microscope, desiring God to reveal what and where things aren’t right. He wants God to know his heart, almost implying that he himself doesn’t.
Then he requests for God to lead him in the way of everlasting. This brings me to the second step in the process.
2. Make a commitment at the start of each day to allow the Lord to lead your thoughts, words and actions.
Decide to begin the journey of each day having 100% integrity and honesty with your words as you ask God to lead. This means to let exaggeration and manipulation fall by the wayside. It means being truthful with yourself at every turn no matter the consequences. It means that you will submit to his ways which are full of truth.
These two steps will initially be a challenge, but as you continue to apply them every day, I promise you will see a difference. Your relationships with others will deepen and you will feel the freedom that complete honesty provides. How liberating!. Allowing God to guide you will result in security and fewer burdens from the restraints of deception.
And that’s no lie.