I have swept away your sins like a cloud. I have scattered your offenses like the morning mist. Oh, return to me, for I have paid the price to set you free. (Isaiah 44:22)
Relate: I thought that now that we’re halfway through September, the weather was starting to cool down a bit. Then I walked up my hill shortly after noon. From the base to my house is about 3/4 a mile. It takes me about fifteen minutes to walk down it but roughly twice that to go up. Although the walk is good for me, it certainly is not fun. If I am doing it in the daytime, I don’t get very far before I begin praying for some kids to be playing and/or parents hanging around outside so that I have an excuse to stop and chat. Today… no luck.
Once I had climbed up the five flights of stairs to my house, began guzzling my way through five liters of water, and the dizziness stopped, I began to think about some others I would love to subject to this hill. My sister in Texas is big into cross-fit and recently posted how she ran 1.5 miles without stopping for the first time ever. (Congrats!) I have another sister in Boston who has taken up running in recent years and is doing a few miles at a time a few times a week. Then there is my cousin in Rochester who is about on the same level. Of course there is my cousin in Moravia who runs the seven miles up her hill whenever she gets bored. She gets bored a lot. Finally there’s Rebecca. She writes here on Fridays and will run a couple marathons a year.
I do like to run, but I would fit myself in there somewhere between my sisters in Texas and Boston. Rebecca and Pam (from Moravia) would very quickly put me to shame. As I was thinking about this, my mind went back to the injury that makes me much prefer biking to running. It was a cross country race way back in high school. I was coming up a hill somewhere in the front third of the pack when I stepped on a rock the wrong way. My foot landed hard and uneven tearing my PCL (in contrast to the more common ACL tear) and I found myself kissing the dirt. I tried to get right back up and keep running but my leg was having none of that.
So there I was, in the woods, with all the other runners passing me by. I realized then that I had three choices. I could try to limp my way back to the start, I could stay there and wait for help to eventually come, or I could get up and finish this race. Obviously, the second option was the wisest choice. As a teenager, I wasn’t very wise. For the next couple miles, every step I took brought more pain and tears. More than once, my leg just would not hold me and I fell again. For the next three weeks, I would be on crutches and my cross country season was over from a competative standpoint. But I finished that race. Normally I would be doing those 3.1 miles in about nineteen minutes. This race took me probably three times that. But I finished that race.
React: Jesus paid the price for our sin when He went to the cross. We have been declared sinless in God’s sight. Although I strive for perfection, I know that in spite of His grace and the power He has given me to live free, I fail. I continue to fall again and again. I’ve been busted by God and by others doing things I know I have no business doing. I’ve sinned.
When I do fall, I know I have three choices: I can give up on my Christian walk, I can wallow in my guilt and my misery, or I can get up and finish the race. A righteous person is not someone who never falls. We all fall. A righteous person is someone who gets back up when they do fall. We have a race to run. Let’s not let the guilt and shame of past sins that God has already forgiven us for keep us from pursuing that glorious finish line.
God, for those times I have fallen, please forgive me. For those things I have done and said that have brought dishonor to You, I am so sorry. I want to serve You with every thought, word, and action, but all too often I fall so far short. Forgive me. And when I do fall, help me to not compound my mistake. Help me to not try and cover it up or wallow in it. When I fall, help me back to my feet. Even though it hurts, help me to push my way forward. I still have a race to finish. I still have a hill to climb. I know that it is not until I have reached the top of that hill that I have truly found my way home.