"If you’ve raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in thickets by the Jordan?" (Jeremiah 12:5). Our journey is intended to be more than simply "stumbling" through the days while the world "wears us out.” We are made to experience the thrill of "running with horses” and to navigate life amongst the "thickets." The RWH blog focuses on both the spiritual race of which Jeremiah speaks, and the physical act of running that I absolutely love. In short, it's where "the miles meet the Message" to provide insight, perspective & encouragement that might enable you & I to successfully run either of the races set before us. May our course be purposeful and may we be passionate in our pursuit of the abundant life He desires for us.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

It's Who I Am ... (Yes, But No)

We recently wrapped up a sermon series at River Oaks on the subject of Identity. These messages spoke to the biblical instruction of how a follower of Christ should answer the question, "What / who defines me?" For believers the answer is based on the transformed life "in Christ" that is identified as being ... a new creation, set apart, complete, loved, called to love others, God's workmanship, and courageous.

Although I would love to provide more detail to these teachings, this is not the place. However, you can listen here: Identity - River Oaks Community Church, and read the weekly summary comments and questions under the 'notes' section. I think you will find the idea of Identity especially interesting and encouraging.

So where am I going with this? Well ...

While in the middle of this series, I came across an article on a runner who has run everyday since 1969 (see: Running Streak). This is an amazing accomplishment. As a runner, I get the drive, the passion, and the discipline that is necessary to make this happen. I take my sweat-soaked Nike running hat off to this guy.

But in his final statement, he says something that made me think. It's something that I have said a hundred times myself. I have no idea how he might have meant it, but I do know how I have understood it in my mind, and in light of this current sermon series, I think I need to be more careful. He says about running, "it is not what I do, it's who I am."

It's who I am. Innocent enough, right? Well, it probably is up until the point that we actually believe it. But should it really define us? Should running be the primary identifier of who we are? Again, this is more about personal conviction than preaching to the masses. But what I started to consider--mostly while out on runs--is that if running is truly "who I am," what happens if it goes away? Any number of things can happen tomorrow; changes in health, family situations, inner drive, life-altering accidents, and much more. Bottom line, I think I have to be especially careful about finding my core identity in anything that can go away tomorrow.

Additionally, I have been reminded about one definition of an idol; anything, that if lost, destroyed, or taken away, would result in the feeling of complete and utter devastation, so much that it would be difficult to continue on. Put another way, if we just can't live without it, maybe we are living too much for it.

Running is not who we are, it is what we passionately enjoy and intend on enjoying for as long as we can. It is often a happy place where we find much pleasure. It is our mission field and our intentional engagement with others. But if it is ever taken away, despite certain disappointment, it will not change how we define ourselves, who we are, or where we find our identity; that is permanently found in Christ.

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