The Race of Grace

20160229-Johnson-Race

More than ten years ago, the spring snow still frozen in icy patches here and there on the yellowed grass, my body was poised in runner’s lunge on the rubbery track, every muscle quivering in anticipation. I filled my lungs with cool, spring air, and the gunshot blasted — sending me off on the 400-meter dash.

My old, weathered gym shoes methodically hit the track and my steady breathing kept time with my steps. I started out strong, like I always do in this mid-distance race, leading the pack as we rounded the first bend. Even so, it was hard to judge how I was doing when the lanes play tricks on your perception.

The straightway stretched further than I recalled and I questioned my sanity in running the race that requires an all-out sprint for the whole quarter mile — the race deemed “the killer race.” Just the thought reminded my legs how tired they already were.

Still I ran on, hoping that maybe this race would be different.

Maybe I could keep up this pace. But then appeared the ominous second bend, that place of invisible quicksand. I urged my legs onward, but I felt like I was sinking. It was the point where my lungs would give out and constrict so tightly that even though I hastened the pace of my breathing, I just couldn’t seem to get enough air.

And like a reoccurring nightmare, the runners to my left and right started to pass me one by one as I rounded the bend. I knew I wouldn’t give up, but how could I continue?

But then I saw it — a flash of red hair at the side of the track. I instantly recognized my teammate Tamara. She had finished her race in the heat just before me, but she ran back to cheer me on. With fist pumping in the air, and emotion filling her voice she cried out, “Come on, Jamie! Let’s bring it in together!”

I was instantly filled with a burst of power, and despite the burning fire in my lungs threatening to consume me, I picked up the pace, sprinting with all I had left. Tamara ran on the grass that bordered the track, never leaving my side. And when I finally crossed the finish line, in last place again, Tamara was there to wrap me in a hug and congratulate me on a job well done.

Today, I know you’re weary. You give your all day after day, but this race of life is more taxing than you ever expected.

Your feet pound the pavement, stride after strenuous stride. So why do all the runners keep passing you by with such tremendous speed? If only you could just catch your breath . . .

I know. I’ve been there too.

But when you get to that second bend, when all feels lost, you’ll see Him there — your Eternal Teammate — who has already finished His race but has come back to champion your cause. And with heavenly grace, He will call you by name, and cry out to you: “Come, my daughter, let’s bring it in together.” He knows this life is not about how swiftly you run.

This is not a race to find first place, but a race to experience His infinite grace.

So don’t stop running, and don’t stop reaching for the God who will give you breath when all your breath is gone. Look for your Redeemer, your Rescuer, your Hero, and your Champion. Because He will be there to cheer you on and to run beside you the whole way Home.

And when you cross that final finish line, He will envelop you in His eternal love and speak to you the words you’ve longed to hear all your life: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” {Matthew 25:21, KJV}

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  • Bev @ Walking Well With God

    Jamie,
    So thankful to have a Savior who runs with me (carries me when necessary) and cheers me on. So thankful that He calls me, not to win, but to finish. Good stuff this morning!
    Blessings,
    Bev

    • http://writinginthestillness.com Jamie

      Bev,
      Thank you for your comment. You are so right – He is always there to cheer us on or to carry us when we can’t take another step on our own. Blessings to you! :)

  • blessedsmith

    Thank You

    • http://writinginthestillness.com Jamie

      You are so welcome. :)

  • Anna Smit

    So this is God’s sense of humor here: I just wrote a post on Love, where He showed me that Love is God, so to love Him and to love others is to receive Him – Love – so He can act (love) in and through me. We can try to love, try to “run” in faith and try to hold onto hope all we like, but true Love, Faith and Hope is Christ….seems like a simple truth, doesn’t it, but oh what a challenge it is for me to put it into practice: do I accept His patience with me? His move toward me in kindness in my own unkindness? His songs of Love over me? His Truth that says only He is my redemption: that not one single act of mine secures it…that true actions of faith are in fact His actions flowing out of me?…If I’m honest, I don’t, much too often.

    Love how God used your post here to confirm what He’s been writing on my heart. Thank you for these words, for letting Christ shine: especially here: This is not a race to find first place, but a race to experience His infinite grace.

    • http://writinginthestillness.com Jamie

      Thank you Anna, your words are so deep. Yes, He is the only Way we can finish. And with Him alone is victory possible through His infinite grace. :)

  • Mary Haynie

    Thank you Lord for running with me in good times and bad. I love You Lord!

    • http://writinginthestillness.com Jamie

      This is such a beautiful prayer, Mary, thank you!

  • Heidi Nau Britz

    Thank you Jamie for your beautiful words. I was wide awake at 3am thinking about this very thing. I appreciate the reminder that we are not running this race alone <3

    • http://writinginthestillness.com Jamie

      Thank you Heidi! The Lord always sends us just what we need when we need it, doesn’t He? He keeps confirming this to me time and time again. Oftentimes, the vey things I am pondering in my heart are the things He shows me again and again – through a photo on social media, a phone call, or the words in a book. And you are exactly right – we are not running this race alone. We are all in this together, and through Christ, our Lord we will triumph. :)

  • Lisa Gotch

    Jamie, thank you for sharing this beautifully written devotion of God’s grace. It was truly a sweet blessing to my heart today. May our Lord continue to use you in a mighty way! In His Love,
    Lisa

    • http://writinginthestillness.com Jamie

      Oh Lisa, thank you for your encouraging words! Your comment was a blessing to my life today. My only hope is to be a small and simple light to shine God’s goodness. We all have this opportunity – to use our gifts to bless those around us. Thank you for reminding me of this today. :)

  • Inspired Life

    Jamie,
    Sweetie, oh my your words painted such a STRONG visual image. I could literally see Jesus coming back to cheer me on. I am cheering myself that my eyes are not on competitors but on gracefully running the course set before me. I celebrate that “my” track leads me in paths of righteousness for His namesake. Bless you for these affirming words.

    • http://writinginthestillness.com Jamie

      Your words bring tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing your feelings with me. The lesson I learned through my races have taught me so much about this race of life. I love how you are determined to “gracefully” run the course set before you. What a beautiful, inspiring image. Your path is set and it is beautiful. Never stop running! ;)

  • A

    Thank you for these beautiful words of grace, Jamie. I have known discouragement lately and your post is a gift from God, bringing His encouragement. I am grateful to Him for this wonderous gift. May He speak His love to each of our hearts today :)

    • http://writinginthestillness.com Jamie

      Thank you so much for sharing your heartfelt feelings today. You are in my prayers. I know our Savior will be with you to wrap you in His arms even now and carry you through your discouragement. Blessings to you! :)

  • JeanneTakenaka

    Jamie, in working through a disappointment, I’ve struggled not to focus on all those runners who are passing my by in my personal life-race. I absolutely love the image of Jesus running at my side spurring me onward. I need to keep my eyes on Him and run the race He’s given me, not the race He’s given those around me on the track of life. Thanks so much for this timeless reminder!

    • http://writinginthestillness.com Jamie

      Jeanne, You are wonderful! Keep running your race. I’m so sorry about your disappointment, they are so heart-wrenching. We went through some major disappointments recently too. But if there is one thing I have learned, it is that God always turns “our race” to our good – even if there are setbacks. You are so right to not compare your race to that of others, this is so essential. God’s glory will shine through you and your race. Of this I am sure!!

  • Katie Landers

    This is not a race for first place–so true! What a great visual you painted for us. Thank you for your words today!

    • http://writinginthestillness.com Jamie

      Thank you so much for your sweet comment Katie! It’s a visual I have to paint in my mind fresh everyday!! :)

  • Beth Williams

    Jamie,
    Super great picture analogy about racing and Jesus running along side us spurring us on! There have been days when I felt like life was passing me by and people were “beating me to finish”. Now I see that God has different plans for each of us and we just need run our own race and experience His grace!
    Blessings :)

  • Beth Kanellis

    I just wanted to say that this particular message came at a Divinely appointed time. As soon as I read it (on Mar. 1), I was impressed that it should be shared at the women’s prayer breakfast on Mar. 6 (theme: “Women of God Never Walk Alone”). Everyone at the breakfast was blessed (I was blessed twice). Thank you for your ministry. –Beth Kanellis