Balancing relationships, family and a ministry, I have discovered demands the pace of a marathon rather than a sprint. Running long distances requires taking in nutrients and oxygen as it is also depleted. Similarly, in relationships and in our daily routines, our health also depends on taking time to rest and the food of God’s Word in order to give ourselves to others. We are not able to breathe out grace unless we breathe it in ourselves.
I find also that during this long distance pace that I must include healthy boundaries. I can say yes sometimes, and sometimes I say no (and it’s okay). Sometimes I choose to take on some responsibilities, and sometimes I have to let go. Sometimes I spend time with people, and sometimes I cannot. Still, I breathe in, I breathe out and keep the pace.
This is something God is continuing to teach me each day. The longer I run this marathon, the more He shows me how important boundaries are to our relationship. I realize that boundaries also cannot be placed on a checklist as much as I try to add them to my daytime each day and also, they are not always as simple as a yes or no. They do require total dependence on God’s direction as we look to Him during this race. For in this race, whatever mile that we are in, we breathe in His direction and breathe out obedience.
Sometimes we will encounter problems when others don’t agree with our pace, but in Jesus’ ministry, He too, encountered the same problem. John 6:15 says, “Therefore when Jesus perceived that they (the crowds) were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king. He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone.”
The race spectators, many God-seeking people, wanted Jesus to take a kingly authority, to change His pace. They wanted Him to take the authority, power, and glory He deserved. Even though this was not a bad thing, this was not what God intended for Him, and He knew it. So He fled the crows, perhaps fleeing the temptation to avoid the cross or perhaps to erect a boundary, to make a gentle statement: This is not what God has asked me to do. I want to be obedient to Him alone. In that moment, in that mile, He breathed in His Father’s direction and breathed out graceful obedience. I doubt the crowds understood. I doubt that they even liked it and even maybe grumbled and complained. But can you imagine if He had listened,giving in to their ideas and allowed them to influence His pace, we would no have His ministry to us on the cross.
We do well when we follow Jesus’s example, to let God set our pace instead of the crowds. This can sometimes become hard to see the big picture, but the crowds have their own ideas, even though some may be very good ones, but with a very limited perspective. If we follow God’s lead (Hebrews 12:1-3), no matter if others misunderstand, He will lead us in a way that enables our fruitful race all the way to the finish line.
Today, in this moment, in this mile of the race God has set before us, simply breathe in His direction and breathe out obedience. This is how we find our true pace.