Just Run Your Race at Your Pace

Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith….Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. {Heb. 12:1-3}

My feet hit the pavement in a slow, steady rhythm. I am not fast. I am not graceful. But I like how stress rolls off me along with the sweat from my forehead, the way my favorite songs match the beat of my heart and the satisfaction of discovering I’m capable of more than I first thought.

The sky spreads blue above me and I’m content…until I see another runner out of the corner of my eye with a smooth, speedy stride I can hardly fathom. And suddenly I feel like I’m not doing anything right. Have you ever felt the same?

You love the blog post you wrote until you see someone else’s got ten more facebook likes.

You’re happy with your tried-and-true marriage until you see that lovey-dovey newlywed pic on instagram.

You think your personality is just fine until everyone flocks around the new, cool girl.

We can so quickly shift from focusing on “the race marked out for us” {Heb. 11:1} to comparing ourselves with someone else. And as every runner knows, where your eyes go your feet (and heart and life) will follow.

The cure to comparing is considering. We’re to fix our eyes on Jesus and “consider” all He went through for us {Heb. 12:3}. In other words, if we’re going to focus on a path besides our own then we’re to think about the one that led to the cross. Because that changes everything.

Instead of what we don’t have, it reminds us of all we’ve been given.

Instead of how we don’t measure up, it reminds us of the limitless grace that’s ours.

Instead of self-pity, it gives us a reason to lift our hands and hearts in praise.

 

Continue reading with me over at (in)courage…

XOXO,

Holley Gerth

The Myth of Being “Over the Hill”

grandpa hollie & I

Grandpa Hollie & I

In the great race of life, there are some Christ followers who stand out from all the rest.

I call them the resilient ones. The further they run, the stronger they get.

– Gordon MacDonald, A Resilient Life

A Resilient Life by Gordon MacDonald has been a friend to my heart for over a decade. I first picked up a copy from my Grandpa’s bookstore. And the other night I found myself returning to it again. Perhaps because Gordon talks about things my Grandpa used to share with me before he went to be with Jesus–like finishing well, loving others and being faithful in the daily, little things.

My Grandpa also showed me being “over the hill” is just a myth. In the ways that matter most, he was still going strong at ninety-three. When I look at Scripture, I see that pattern too…

Here I am today, eighty-five years old! I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then. – Caleb {Joshua 14:11}

They go from strength to strength until each appears before God. – Sons of Korah {Psalm 84:7}

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. – Apostle Paul {2 Cor. 4:16}

Our culture has sold us a lie. It tells us we peak in middle age. But I don’t see that reflected anywhere in God’s Word. Moses was eighty when God called him from the burning bush. Sarah was ninety when the promised Isaac was born. Anna was eighty-four when God let her be one of the first to recognize Jesus as the Messiah.

Gordon MacDonald insists that we must be prepared for our greatest contribution to the Kingdom to happen in the second half of life. Rather than being “over the hill” our journey toward Jesus is to be one steady, faithful, continual, mysteriously glorious climb.

We’re not to coast.

We’re not to count ourselves out.

We’re not to compare now to then.

Instead we’re to press on and always prepare for whatever God has next for us.

If you’re still in your first half of life then make choices now that will help put you in a position to finish strong. And if you’re in the second half of life then realize God is not done with you. In fact, He may just be getting started. You are needed, valued and you have more to offer than ever before.

The most important steps of any race are not at the starting line. They are at the finish. Anyone can begin strong. Only champions can stay strong for as long as it takes.

Because here’s the key: only God gets to decide when we’re done. Until then, we are to run and run and run. He will train us. And He will sustain us. As long as we’re still on earth, our race is not complete. It’s not about being “over the hill” but instead being in the center of His will.

The God my Grandpa followed all the way home, the Savior Gordon MacDonald still pursues, the One who plans all of our paths – offers this hope with every step, every day, every age: the best is yet to be.

XOXO

Holley Gerth

Books to encourage you…

Books by Holley Gerth
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Welcome to the Coffee for Your Heart weekly link-up! You’re an encourager so I’m asking you to pour out a little love with your words every Wednesday {link-up goes live at 5:30am CST}. Simply write an encouraging blog post and then share it here. Don’t have a blog? You can still write an encouraging comment. If you’re reading this by email, go to holleygerth.com to see all the fun and join in too.

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How Dreams Grow

You have but one role: Let God grow the dream.

{my graphics are free goodies for you}

Every dream starts small. It’s a seed that first sprouts in thoughts and conversations, quiet moments and glimpses of a vision, late-night prayers and early-morning hopes. It has to fight through the dirt and dark when believing is not yet seeing.

Then it finds its way to the daylight, throws itself toward the sky and audaciously dares to add more beauty than you ever saw coming. It becomes so strong and wild you can hardly imagine that it might not have been. All you can do is point and say with a bit of awe in your voice, “Look what God did.”

That’s how I feel about the dream of (in)courage. For the sixth time the writers gathered as a group last weekend. Wildflowers. Wallflowers. Word women. In the Nester’s barn with twinkle lights hanging over us and stars scattered above us, we shared our hearts. Laughter. Tears. Hopes. Fears.

(in)courage group pic by The Nester

(in)courage group pic by The Nester

When we finished, I thought of all that’s transpired since we first met each other. One of us in heaven. Babies born. Books too. Nonprofits hatching like eggs. Kids flown from the nest. Hellos, good-byes, prayers requests, praises. Lives touched. Differences made. Words changing the world.

I never could have foreseen it all. But God did. You may be staring at a dream the size of a mustard seed and asking, “Can this really do any good?” And I want to lean in and whisper, “Oh, yes. Only God can see the heart, the breadth, the depth, the glory, the power inside. It’s said a sprout has the force to crack concrete wide open. Who are you to hold it back?”

And here’s the magnificent secret: Once you release it that seed will take on a life of its own. It will grow in ways that astound you, reach places your feet could never touch, defy the world with a loveliness that makes you want to drop to your knees in the dirt and lift your hands in praise.

You have but one role: Let God grow the dream.

It’s both harder and simpler than it sounds. I’m reminded of that as I exchange final hugs with my (in)courage sisters. I wonder what the next year–the next fifty {long live the dream}–might bring for us.

And I realize all over again: Only God knows. Just as He alone knows what unseen wonder a single seed, one little dream, can hold.

XOXO

Holley Gerth

p.s. Thank you to Lisa-Jo Baker for faithfully leading and growing (in)courage for the past five years. Well done. And thank you to DaySpring for bringing the writers together each year as well as all the ways you support the ongoing dream of (in)courage.

****

Welcome to the Coffee for Your Heart weekly link-up! You’re an encourager so I’m asking you to pour out a little love with your words every Wednesday {link-up goes live at 5:30am CST}. Simply write an encouraging blog post and then share it here. Don’t have a blog? You can still write an encouraging comment. If you’re reading this by email, go to holleygerth.com to see all the fun and join in too.

Pretty please use this button in your blog post so others can easily join in with us {html code in right sidebar}. And when you link up your post, take a moment to leave an encouraging comment on the one that’s linked up just before yours. Thanks, friends!

 

I’m having Coffee For Your Heart with my friend Holley Gerth

{click to tweet that you’re joining me here today}


There’s Always Hope When Jesus is Writing Your Story

Never place a period where God has placed a comma.

{my graphics are free goodies for you}

Most of us know the story. The two famous biblical sisters, Mary and Martha, have a brother named Lazarus who becomes sick. They send for Jesus but He doesn’t arrive for two more days. And by that time, Lazarus has died. It seems it’s time for “The End” to be written on the final page.

But as a quote by Gracie Allen hanging on my Mama’s refrigerator says, “Never place a period where God has placed a comma.”

We all have a Lazarus in our lives. A dream that seems to have gasped its last breath. A hope that’s lifeless and still. A relationship that seems beyond resurrection.

Jesus understands the pain of those places. As Joanna Weaver says in Lazarus Awakening:

“Where have you laid him?” Jesus asks Martha and Mary through His tears {John 11:34}….

Where have you laid your pain? Jesus asks us tenderly. Where do you keep all your shattered hopes and dreams? Where have you laid the part of you that died when you were abandoned, forgotten, betrayed? Where are you entombed and enslaved, hemmed in, shut down, and closed off?

Come and see, Lord. That’s the only response we need to give.

Come and see.

Because when Jesus shows up you can be sure the show isn’t over. After He weeps with His friends by the tomb, He calls Lazarus to come forth. And suddenly the period placed by humanity becomes an exclamation point inserted by divinity.

We serve a God of life. Of resurrection. What He does may not look exactly like what happened with Lazarus. And, yes, sometimes our exclamation point may be added on the other side of eternity. But you can be sure that death will not ultimately win in any situation in your life. “Death is swallowed up in victory” {1 Cor. 15:54}.

And until then, we have the same hope that Mary and Martha did even if it felt delayed: Jesus is coming. He knows your hurt and He cries with you. He has not forgotten. He will not abandon you in your time of need.

The Author of Life is asking, “Where have you laid your Lazarus?” and He will tenderly, powerfully transform your story in ways beyond what you’ve yet imagined.

XOXO

Holley Gerth

LazarusAwakeningP.S. I’m thrilled to offer a giveaway of Joanna’s new book, Lazarus Awakening! Her words will show you how to embrace the truth that Jesus loves you apart from anything you accomplish, apart from anything you bring.

To enter the giveaway, simply leave a comment on this post by Sunday {7/26} at midnight. Feel free to tell me a story of a time when God replaced a period with a comma, if you’d like.

{The giveaway is closed and the winner has been contacted.}

Why You Don’t Have to Be Loud to Roar

It's not about how we're speaking but instead Who is speaking through us.

{my graphics are free goodies for you}

“You’re so quiet.”

I’ve heard that phrase as long as I can remember. In school from teachers. At get-togethers with friends. Even from my own family at times. It’s not spoken as a compliment. At best, it’s a concern.

And I’ll confess at times it has made me wonder, “Should I force myself to be louder?” But I’m not quiet because I’m holding back. I’m quiet because that’s the way God made me.

The other day on a run I was listening to a song with the lyrics, “I am a champion, and you’re gonna hear me roar louder, louder than a lion.” And I had this thought: I don’t have to be loud to roar because I have a Lion living inside of me {Rev. 5:5}. When I speak on His behalf, even if it’s softly, He roars…and the enemy trembles.

We don’t have to shout to make ourselves heard.

We don’t have to raise our voices to get attention.

We don’t have to dominate conversations to add value.

The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. {1 Kings 19:11-12}

If God has given you a big, loud voice then appreciate it and use it with care. And if He has given you a quiet, small one know it can be just as powerful. It’s not about how we’re speaking but instead Who is speaking through us.

So let’s bravely be who God made us to be because that’s when He roars the loudest.

Even if we’re quiet.

XOXO

Holley Gerth

Books to encourage you…

Books by Holley Gerth
Would you like to subscribe by email?

****

Welcome to the Coffee for Your Heart weekly link-up! You’re an encourager so I’m asking you to pour out a little love with your words every Wednesday {link-up goes live at 5:30am CST}. Simply write an encouraging blog post and then share it here. Don’t have a blog? You can still write an encouraging comment. If you’re reading this by email, go to holleygerth.com to see all the fun and join in too.

Pretty please use this button in your blog post so others can easily join in with us {html code in right sidebar}. And when you link up your post, take a moment to leave an encouraging comment on the one that’s linked up just before yours. Thanks, friends!

 

I’m having Coffee For Your Heart with my friend Holley Gerth

{click to tweet that you’re joining me here today}