Written By: Cathie Ostapchuk
I was away this week doing leadership development with mid-life leaders. Mid-life traditionally encapsulates ages 40 and up. Now leaders in their early 30’s are showing up and asking the bigger questions of life, including what to do when you hit the wall, and how to clarify purpose and values to finish strong.
What I am carrying with me are the conversations with women and the declaration that almost always surfaced at some point: “I would have never written my story this way.”
Sometimes we have a picture in mind of the way life was supposed to be and the ‘blessed’ journey we thought we were promised to enjoy when we made the decision to be a disciple of Christ. What often happens is that we find that the path opening to us is harder than we imagined, and we are more powerless than we thought in controlling other peoples’ decisions and actions.
Relationships change or end. Cancer insidiously strikes the most unlikely, previously healthy bodies. Betrayal in ministry or a slow and steady erosion of trust can leave even the most optimistic woman step back in fear and self-preservation.
What a gift of grace it is to read in Scripture that we can live in the middle of challenge and complexity, and still experience the rich destiny and honour of being called a Daughter of the King. It means we are being entrusted to run the race, to stay on the path, even when we are flagging in our faith, and especially when we are flagging in our faith. We have a cloud of witnesses who are champions and pioneers in decades and eras gone by and who faced the worst and finished strong.
How do we know? Read the words from Hebrews 12:1-3, from The Message:
“Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!"
Do you need eight words to help you flourish when your faith is flagging most?
Did Jesus plow through the long litany of hostility? Yes he did. And so will you. Be reminded that you were not promised a walk in the park or a fairy tale in the blessed life, but rather your destiny will at times include the worst of times. Your defining moments will serve to strip you, refine you, and forge your character until the fairy tale is just that and the real story is that your path leads to an exhilarating place of honour, with Jesus, in God’s presence – for eternity.
It’s part of the discipleship journey to have your faith flag enroute. The antidote is not wishing you could rewrite your fairy tale but to get your brave on and make it to the next chapter. Strip down – no spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Start running and match your rhythm to His grace-filled way. Never quit. Stay the path. Keep your eyes on Jesus who went ahead of you and verified that your race is the perfect one for you. Feel Him also running beside you as your biggest champion. And when the final chapter is written, you will raise a flag of victory and rejoice that the gift of faith got you to the finish line.
Be encouraged, girls. You were designed for more than the fairy tale life. We are championing you as you live out the grace and grit of your beautiful, exhilarating story.
We believe in you, in the God who created you, and in the One who has entrusted you with the wonderful as well as the wild.
We are committed to champion you as take your place and run your race in this nation for such a time as this.