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Run With The Horses

Who You Kiddin’?

One of my favorite of Eugene Peterson’s books is Run with the Horses*. Peterson gets the title from Jeremiah 12:5 — If you have raced with men on foot, and they have wearied you, how will you compete with horses? 

The heading over chapter 12 in Jeremiah in my Bible is “Jeremiah’s complaint.”  It’s tempting to shake my head at Jeremiah, but I get it, I understand.  Over the years of my walk with Jesus I have been tasked with things I thought unfair, and too much for me.  Occasionally a well-meaning friend will quote some Scripture like “God will not give you more than you can bear”, and I’ll laugh if I’m lucky.  (And the well-meaning friend, too!)

In our Inspire Way of Life one of the Core Values of Discipleship is Using Disciplines, and one of the questions particularly stood out to me: Am I  listening to God through the Bible?  Another way to think of that is: Is the Bible informing my life? Is the Bible revealing my life?  

Once I was pastor of a church and a hurricane destroyed the Sanctuary.  My wife and I were out of town and couldn’t get back for days because of cancelled flights and flood damage through the area. The Sanctuary had to be levelled and a new one put in its place.  We worshiped outside for three weeks because the air was foul and we needed to make sure the building was safe.  This started an adventure of several years.

I thought I had challenges before that, but I guess I was just running with the footmen before the Lord called us to run with the horses.  

And now we are facing some difficult decisions about our denomination, about our church, about our ministry.  When we dealt with the hurricane, were we running with the footmen or running with the horses?

Either way, God is faithful, and has been, and will always be with us.  

And what about those other times when I am dead tired of all this “religion” stuff and want to walk away?  Jeremiah tried that, too, and here’s what he wrote in Jeremiah 20:9 — If I say, “I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,” there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot.

The love of God is deep inside Jeremiah, deep and burning like marrow on fire, and he tries to ignore it, tries to hold it in, and he cannot.  I know about this, too.  Maybe you do, too.  

Is God speaking to me through the Bible?  I think so.  Is the Bible informing, or even revealing, my life?  I think so.

I think during my times of doubt, despair, anger, or uncertainty, Jesus is sitting next to me and saying something like:  “Who you kiddin?  You know I’m going to be with you, and you know you can’t give me up, and you know you don’t want to.  And you know that I will get you through wherever I call you to go.”  

My blog is called The Unforced Rhythms of Grace, after a phrase Eugene Peterson uses in The Message translation of Matthew 11:28-29:

Are you tired?  Worn out?  Burned out on religion?  Come to me.  Get away with me and you’ll recover your life.  I’ll show you how to take a real rest.  Walk with me and work with me — watch how I do it.  Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.  I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.  Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” 

And, as long as I’m quoting something, this verse rarely fails to bring me to tears:

When through the deep waters I call thee to go
The rivers of woe will not thee overflow
For I will be with thee, thy troubles  to bless
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.  
How Firm a Foundation (1787)  529 in the UMH hymnal

Frank is an Inspire Missioner and semi-retired Methodist Minister in Texas, USA

* Run with the Horses: The Quest for Life at Its Best, Eugene Peterson, IVP USA, 2010. ISBN-13  :  978-0830837069

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