Thursday, September 6, 2012

How Being a Christian is Like Running from Zombies

Helene and I know that we very similar.  Somewhat nerdly, clean cut girls who have clean backgrounds (by the world's standards, anyway).  We also know that not all Christians are like us.  There are Christians who love much because they have been forgiven much.  There are Christians who don't read Nazi era theologians.  There are Christians who use the word "boomsauce."  Toni is one such Christian.  We wanted to have guest bloggers on occasion to give a different voice to what is means to be a Christian woman.  Toni's voice is different than ours, but her love for Christ is the same.  She has a blog, Fighting Insanity, that you can read at  I encourage you to read it. She'll make you laugh and think at the same time.  Meanwhile, she has been gracious enough to write this guest post for us. ~Melissa
I remember Melissa as a quiet, Elvis-loving, 4th grade girl with the blondest hair I'd ever seen. We go way back, to like, elementary school in small-town Arkansas. When I found out I was moving to Italy, Melissa was partly responsible for surprising me with one of the most bomb (and jelly-bean-themed) going-away parties this planet has ever known.
And that's when this girl here went down a totally different path—but it's funny how years later, through the glory of Facebook and divine intervention, Melissa and I became reunited: 2 old classmates and friends, Christian girls who both feel led to write about God stuff. When she asked me if I'd like to guest post, I jumped on that crazy train because 1. I think it's awesome what she's trying to do with this website, and 2. Because I've had several ideas floating around in my head but only one blog and I didn't want to overwhelm my readers with 89 kooky-Christian rambles. Oh, look! Here goes one now! 
I've taken up running (slow jogging/getting red-faced and freaking out the neighbors) lately (again). Trying to get in shape and whatnot, mainly so my husband can have the smokin' hot wife he so desires and deserves—but also because I want to be healthy, so I can survive apocalyptic scenarios. In fact, so convinced am I that this exercising business is good for me, that I've decided to sign up for an actual 5K in order to stay motivated during my training runs. The chosen race? Zombie Bolt, on October 6th in Guthrie, Oklahoma. Sound awesome? Maybe at first. Zombies are there. Some zombies loll around the course. Others might stumble after you a little. And then there are the "bolters"—the ones that full-sprint chase you.
I'm pretty sure I'm going to wet my pants.
It'll happen.
All this training is wearing me out. I'm worried I won't finish the race. I'm afraid I'll get all hot and sweaty and ugly and I'll pass out. I'm scared the Zombies will get me. (Just kidding.) (No I'm not.)
I can draw a lot of parallels between running and my Christian walk. Think about it: At times it's hard. It's exhausting. It can be uncomfortable and inconvenient. It's not exactly what we expected when we signed up. The hills suck and our shoes get muddy. Mosquitoes bite and zombies will inevitably give chase. Diet makes a difference, and alcohol is non-helpful, to say the least. Some people will not get why we are running at all, much less why we are so into it.

We look at our running mates and we wonder why we're not as fast. We get cocky when we pass someone who's going slow. We get a stitch in our side and we want to quit. But then we look at the people who did quit, and fear strikes. We wonder what happened to them that made them drop out of the race entirely. How did they go from being so strong and motivated, to so tired and uninspired? Did it happen overnight? Will it happen to us?
Cue the Bible:
"Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us." -- Hebrews 12:1(New Living Translation). Boomsauce.
I love this verse, don't you? It's easy to remember the end of it: Run the race with endurance. It's like God is saying to me "Get going, runner! You're doing super! Almost there!"
It's difficult, though, to focus on the rest. Strip off every weight that slows us down, especially sin that so easily trips us up. For real? I'm doing the best I can. I'm running this race, aren't I? I'm not going to quit, not like those other people. I'm fast, strong. Motivated. Rabid cheetah in lane 2. All for you, God!
God is all the time showing stuff to me. Strip off every weight. Sin easily trips you up. As much as I like to think I've got things under control, I know the opposite is true. I'm so vulnerable. Sin so does easily trip me up. And I'm not just talking about the blatant temptations that rear their ugly faces every time I turn around—even though, yeah okay, an unhealthy obsession with the wrong kind of music and my binge drinking past are always going to be issues I struggle through. (For the record, I have completely eradicated Ke$ha from my MP-3 player. We're so over.)
Thankfully it's possible to take actual physical precautions, however unfun they might be, to prevent myself from falling into the same old traps. But sometimes the weight is still there—every time I'm on a Jesus high, sins from my past are always quick to offer a major buzzkill. I can't be the only one who asks God "So, did you really forgive me for that?" He does. Accept it. Strip off the weight of shame and guilt and get on with God's work.
Lately God has demanded that I be most concerned with my own passivity; my laziness, my anger, my greed. My fear of the unknown. My anxiety. My stunning lack of service to others, and also? My stunning lack of love for my neighbor. I'm just too comfortable in my clean, quiet house thankyouverymuch. I'm comfortable surrounded by my own circle of friends, who are just like me. Everyone else, I want to punch in the face. I am scared to look at homeless people. I am scared to help to someone who might not like me. I am scared to step out of my bubble.
Jesus would be ashamed of me, because I? Am not running the race at all. I've only just shown up to the track, and last time I checked, that doesn't earn any medals.
So how do I run this race? How do I have endurance? How do I strip off all the weights? Well, first of all, I can't do it in my own strength, because let's face it—I'm weak and I tire easily. I was deeply struck by a passage I heard today in church:
"Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.  Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God's grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen." – 1 Peter 4:8-11 (NIV)

There's a lot of loving and serving talk going around these days. I'm too lazy (there it is) to figure out exactly how often it's mentioned in the Bible, but it's safe to say a crud-ton of times. I'm picking up a lot of chatter in my church circles about it, too. God is pounding this into my head lately and I can't help but let it all rattle around and spill back out my mouth: "Love covers a multitude of sins. Serve with the strength God provides. Strip off the weights. Run with endurance the race God has set before us."
Now: if I can get all that from my head and mouth to my heart and hands, I'll be in really great shape.

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