I've been mulling over this post for the last 2 weeks, unsure how much to write and how best to do it. In the end, though, I guess the best way to handle it is just to write from my heart and share what I have learned. It is so important to me, and it has really changed the way I look at all that has happened to me since the time of my injury.
This is how it all came about: a couple of weeks ago, I was re-reading Chapter 2 of The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer. My daughter is reading this book for school and I wanted it to be fresh in my mind for our discussion. The title of this chapter is "The Blessedness of Possessing Nothing" and it involves how our souls are meant to be in relationship with God and, though we may try to fill it with worldly things, nothing can satisfy except for God. One example given in this chapter is the story of Abraham, and how God gave him a son to fulfill His promise. However, Abraham was in danger of making his son an idol, and God had to fix that. He instructed Abraham to take his child to the mountain and offer him as a sacrifice. Abraham had to wrestle with the notion of losing his son, and reconciling that with the promise God had made to him, and in the end, Abraham was faithful and trusted God. God stayed his hand. Tozer writes, "I (God) only wanted to remove him from the temple of your heart that I might reign unchallenged there. I wanted to correct the perversion that existed in your love. Now you may have the boy, sound and well."
As I read those words, it was like a revelation to me! All of the pieces fell into place and I understood everything that had happened in the last few months. Running was becoming my idol, if it wasn't already. As things got more stressful in my life, I turned to running - not God. I credited running with helping me through all of the craziness in my world. I relied on my own strength, and did not depend on God.
Shortly after my injury and all of the heartbreak that surrounded that experience - including losing out on my dream to be a Marathon Maniac - other things in my life took a nosedive. It was truly the blackest of times. And I could not deal with it as I usually did. I struggled mightily, and I felt like I was all alone in the blackness.
Slowly, though, God was calling to me. And he was drawing me near. I have struggled with trusting God and with living out joy despite my circumstances... but there was nothing left. I had nothing left and no strength left of my own. I made the decision to turn to God for my strength and He gave me verses and songs to strengthen me. When I was scared and overwhelmed, I could call out these verses and fill my mind and soul with those songs and be comforted. And then during the Goofy Challenge, I experienced the grace and mercy and love of God in such a real and powerful and meaningful way. He allowed me to have this dream and took me through it in an amazing way! He revealed himself to me! I had spent years lamenting that I never felt God's love and closeness or heard Him... and finally, here He was!
Until I made this connection with the story of Abraham, though, I hadn't understood why He had allowed this injury to come into my life. Now that I understand, I am grateful. If you aren't a Christian, you may not understand and, in fact, you may be thinking, "Wow, what kind of loving God would take away something that means so much to you to teach you a lesson??" But that's not it at all!! It is BECAUSE He loves me so much that he had to get my attention in a BIG way. I was never going to achieve the peace that I was searching for - that I was running after - without Him. I could have run a hundred marathons and it wouldn't make anything better! I need Him, and that's it. But as long as running was distracting me (and it wasn't even helping because I was finding myself miserable even after my runs), I would never understand.
So I am thankful that He allowed this injury to come into my life. I am so thankful that He drew me close and allowed me to feel His grace and His love! And I am thankful that He continues to be with me during my recovery. I trust that He will continue to see me through - even if I do not get back to my previous level of competition, though that is my personal goal. I trust my God enough to know that, if I am not able to do half marathons and/or triathlons again, He has something for me that's better than I could ever think of on my own. Because He loves me!
I know this may not make a lot of sense to you if you don't have a relationship with God through Jesus. I have been a Christian for more than 14 years now and it doesn't always make sense to me - I'm still learning! But if you want to know more about having a relationship with the Lord, I'd be happy to talk to you about it! Just post a comment and I'll get back with you!