Who doesn’t love a good race! My boys have run cross-country and track, and I so enjoy the battling it out at the end as the athlete gives every ounce of energy to push past their opponent towards the finish line. I also love the beginning of long distance races, as each runner bursts out, jockeying for position before they settle into a good pace. The middle of the race is the grueling part, for this is what makes the runner— the testing of their real endurance. Life is a little like this, for it seems like we are in the middle of a long race. And some days we have more endurance than other days.
Watching the movie, McFarland USA, I was caught up in the underdog story of these boys, so under qualified by many standards, yet persevering in their attempt to qualify for state in cross country. I was well aware of the looming gap we all can feel— the space between our qualifications and what we dare dream or hope for ourselves. At times the gap seems impossible, unbelievable and plain, well, discouraging.
“So what does this have to do with my day-to-day life right now?” Everything, so stick with me.
On a day to day basis we experience the gap. We see so clearly our inadequacies: the lack of self-control, over-indulgence, skewed self-image, loneliness, or laziness. We are plagued by ourselves, “Do I measure up?” “If I was only skinnier or happier… had more money or a relationship.” Or, “If I could be better at this or that…” Living in this gap can leave a bitter taste in our mouth; we don’t like it and we want to spit it out. We want to be rid of the gap we experience.
The gap is the space we live in, where we can feel that we are not qualified.
Where in the last week did you feel you let yourself down or did not do what you thought you should do?
The bitter taste is there. You overate. You felt down on yourself. You overspent and you hid it. You felt discouraged over your life, gifting or disposition. The website ate your time, your thoughts and a part of your life. Regret settles in.
In these moments I don’t qualify; at least that is how I feel. If there was a race in life, and how I felt at that particular moment was used to qualify me, I would definitely not qualify. The gap is too large. It is unsurmountable. Oh yes, there are times the gap doesn’t seem to be there, or is small enough that it doesn’t matter— on those really good sunny, blue sky kind of days. I like to call these days the “Snow White kind of days”— like the scene in Snow White where there is singing, blue skies and cute little animals.
But right now, the gap exists.
Last weekend I painted a chair. Some would say I shouldn’t paint this chair. It is a very old chair with very old wood and a carved design. But I wanted to paint it anyway. And a chair like this needs a good paint job— well at least the kind that looks effortless, like you picked it up at some cool, random flea market. Now it was suppose to be easy. In my mind, I thought I knew what I was doing and what the finished product would be like. The simple, valuable, antique chair would be Pinterest perfect! Then reality set in. The paint was too thick. The brush seemed to aggravate the problem. The wax, well I thought that would be a breeze. “Why is it still tacky?” The paint dried and the paint crackled. Yes, some do try to get this crackled look, but that was not my intention. The gap exists.
Let me ask you this,
“What qualifies you as a worthy person?”
What really? I am a little like my chair. I have in my mind what I am suppose to be like— I am not to be thick and crackled— but thin and smooth. (My over 40 friends can understand!) As I see the thick and crackled (those parts of myself that I don’t like or I endure), I feel like I am not worthy, I am not qualified. I might just feel plain, “yucky,” about myself.
Where do you feel like you do not qualify?
Things are not always as I imagine. I forget that I am suppose to age. Oh, yeah. Some of my relationships are not what I expected.The number is not quite right on the scale. Hmmmm… Or it feels like others do it better or get the breaks.
But, how do we qualify as we live in this gap? Is there a certain standard we need to meet? In a race it is a little more tangible. We get a certain time and we move on.
Living in this gap can make my heart ache. Yes, at first I fell yucky with my overindulgence or lack of unrestrained words, but then I can just feel stuffed with myself. Then sometimes I do feel better. That is nice. The paint job goes better. I did run. I volunteered my time.
What makes you feel qualified?
For me, the right words from someone can do it. Feeling appreciated and needed or the “likes” and comments could do it. Being the best and winning is a plus. Hearing parents approval or meeting my goals can qualify me. These things make me feel not so yucky, and rather happy.
But if I continue in this race I will once again find the gap. I must do more. Work harder. Be loved. Be appreciated.
Lately I have been reading Colossians and I love it. It is one of my favorite books. As my sight shifts from what is true, I need reminders again and again of God’s steadfastness in my life. Colossians speaks to this: our need for qualification.
… joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. Colossians 1:12
The Father qualifies us to share in the rewards of the saints (those set apart or believers in Christ.). As one identified with Christ, we are forgiven, sealed with the Holy Spirit, have life eternal. We are accepted, loved, and justified, to name a few things. He qualifies us for these rewards. We share in these because He says so.
He intercedes in the gap:
He went to great lengths to qualify us. He rescued us from a dark place. Then he placed us in new territory- the kingdom of His beloved Son. We live now in a new economy. What qualifies us is so unexpected. The cross qualified us. The cross qualifies us each day.
Yet, the gap creeps in glaring at me… when things are not as they ought to be. The chair was suppose to be…. I should do… They shouldn’t…. But the Father bridged that gap for us through the cross. He qualifies us for the true life we yearn for.
Living With His Qualifations
As I yearn for “true” life, different circumstances, more growth, what do I do to walk and think as one who is qualified? Do I work harder? In McFarland they had many things that helped them to qualify- hard work, family, circumstances, and a good coach. The qualifiers are not like that in the kingdom of the beloved. I need to remember that. The economy has changed. It is not what I do or what I didn’t do that qualifies me. He qualifies. He has qualified me.
The Cross intersecting my daily life
Come: So I come to the Qualifier.
Be With: I come to be with Him, for He is with me. I rest in this. I rest in the Qualifier.
Walk: I walk with Him by faith, living in what He says is true.
Fill: I fill myself with His words. (Try Colossians and see what you think.)
Soak: I soak in His truth. I don’t just take a quick shower, but a long soak.
Overflow: I overflow from my soaking what is true- to my thoughts, in my words I speak, and in the life I live with others.
Now I often go to triathlon races. Things become more complicated. But I love these since there are a bunch of beginning and ends throughout. How can you do well in all three events? Daily life often feels more like that then a clean straight forward race.
I often can grasp more easily that I will be qualified by Jesus— His death on the cross, at the end- when I finish.
But the cross does intersect my daily life, qualifying me in the middle of the race, not just at the finish line. I must remind myself again, that my Father went to great lengths to spare me— for He loves me. He bought me and brought me in to His family. He created me with my gifting, strengths and life. My life is now connected to Him and each day He is saying, “Yes, I am with you. I have qualified you. Enough. (in a loving way.) Walk in it.” This is what I love: the cross qualifies me each day to live accepted by God, loved by Him and renewed by Him. Today, no matter where I am in the race, I am qualified because of Him.
My husband likes to tell me that God has all the votes. When I live life in this gap it is easy to look to circumstances, others, and whatever else to qualify me. I am looking for their votes. But Brian reminds me, “God has all the votes.” The race seems long, but He qualifies me.