Run – or Pray?

Two GirlsTwo little girls walked to school every day. (Yes, once upon a time they really did that!) On this particular morning they were enjoying the pleasant sun more than usual. Suddenly it occurred to them that they were going to be late: the bell would ring and they would be marked tardy.

One little girl said to the other, “We’re going to be late! Let’s kneel down and pray.”

“No,” said the other. “Let’s pray while we run!”

As a physician and a minister I see both extremes: I see those who live an unhealthy lifestyle – overweight, sex outside of marriage, smoke, drink too much, etc. They become frustrated, angry, or depressed when they experience the physical or emotional consequences of those behaviors. Sometimes they then pray, and become upset with God when He doesn’t immediately remove those consequences.

I sometimes see others who try to live a wholesome lifestyle – natural foods, exercise, manage their stress, etc. They are very aware of any physical health issues they need to address, and take complete responsibility for their health in every way. But they often seem empty spiritually. Without a relationship with God, Who is bigger than they are, they are always struggling.

These are, of course, somewhat artificial categories. But I see variations on this all the time:

  • The 25 year old who’s both scared and angry at the need for a gynecologic procedure to treat the consequences of an STD
  • The 47  year old vegan, unhappy with her approaching menopause, and frustrated that she can’t stop the aging process
  • The 36 year old who needs to lose 100 pounds, and does not change her lifestyle
  • The infertile couple pouring all their emotional and financial resources into medical treatment, and losing their marriage over the stress in the process

I wish I could say to them all, “Run – and pray!”

There’s much we cannot do for ourselves. That’s where God comes in. Without Him, we’re sunk! Our best efforts cannot change the soul, wipe out guilt, or deal with eternity. All our efforts cannot change us on the inside.

There’s also much that we CAN do for ourselves. Perhaps not BY ourselves, but much that no one can do for us. Not even God. He will not
undo our choices.

What He WILL do is provide unending forgiveness, and unending grace to live a transformed life.

So what do you do when you find yourself at one of those impossible moments? Three things:

  1. Pray. With all your heart. And then listen for His response.
  2. Work hard. Do all that IS within your power to do.
  3. Let go. Anxiety and worry will only wear you out. Let God handle the rest.

Yes, run. As fast as you can.

And pray while you run!

Your turn: What big things are you wrestling with? What do you think YOUR part is to do? How do you know where to let God have His way? I’d love to hear from you!

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