Remind me, what is at the end of this race?
Jaclyn Lim // July 2, 2019, 2:28 pm
Sprinting comes natural to me. I love the adrenaline that kicks in when you hit the ground running, the instant gratification that comes with each pursuit. I love feeling the rush of wind as I rush towards the finishing line with long but quick strides.
My love for sprinting was prevalent in my life too. In a fast-paced society that runs on efficiency, I have the tendency to take on activities and projects like sprints, one after another. And instead of giving myself space to breathe in between seasons, I would start on a new thing immediately, tiring myself out over time.
One day, in the Burning Hearts prayer room, I felt the Lord whisper to me: “It’s time to stop sprinting.” This came as a huge surprise.
“Lord, You mean you’re asking me to stop? I’ve spent the last couple of years in ministry, serving in every capacity I could, giving of my time and resources to You!” It didn’t make sense to me.
At this point of time, I was not conscious that I had become consumed with doing many things both in church and in school. Growing up, I had often built my identity on my achievements in life, and I found personal value in the expectations I set for myself.
Little did I know, but I had carried this thinking into my own Christian walk. I was getting involved with many activities in church, leading a cell group and a ministry, being part of the youth camp committee.
I would give my weekends and weekday nights to the Lord. I was endlessly going from one activity to another without resting. Yet while investing into ministries and giving my time to the church, I found myself falling short of my own expectations in many other aspects of my life: In my studies, in my relationships and even in the ministries I was actively building.
Disillusionment was starting to fill my heart as I wondered: “Lord, I’m doing so much for you. Why aren’t You coming through for me in my own dreams and desires?” Deep down, I felt disappointed with God, that something was missing in this life that I was living. How could it be that I was a Christian, yet my life seemed so empty and pointless?
In my ache for something more, I chanced upon the prayer room when a friend of mine asked me to accompany her there.
It was an unfamiliar environment. There were songs I could never bring myself to sing wholeheartedly, songs with lyrics that went: “I want to be like Mary, sitting at Your feet, lavishing my love on You” and “put me anywhere, just put your glory in me, I’ll serve anywhere, just let me see Your beauty”.
This was different from the church environment that I had grown up in. The prayers and songs in the prayer room spoke of intimacy, a wholehearted desire to radically follow the Lord. These concepts were foreign to me, having spent a bulk of my youth running after my own dreams and finding value in personal achievements.
Week after week, I found myself going to the prayer room to sit and commune with the Lord, and it was in that place He surfaced many issues of my heart. I had believed that I had to achieve and do things for Him in order to prove my worth to the Him.
This was when He showed me that I was tired and had to stop sprinting. That day, He gave me a vision of a girl who kept running around, looking for her treasure, yet she kept missing her treasure because she was sprinting towards all the wrong places.
Upon realisation that I had to slow down, I decided to take a break from serving in church and rest more actively. Through this process of recalibration, the Lord taught me what it meant to be a daughter, a beloved one and a friend of His.
My old paradigms began to shift, one of which was that I had no need to do anything or achieve anything in order to earn my Father’s love. But I still couldn’t fully wrap my mind around the point of living if it wasn’t all about sprinting – wouldn’t it be simpler to just die sooner and be reunited with Jesus?
It wasn’t until one evening, when Jason Chua, founder of Burning Hearts, was reading out Revelation 21 about the New Jerusalem that it hit me – that the end goal of this life wasn’t just about believing in Jesus and gaining salvation, it was living unto the day when the Church would be reunited with Jesus, the Bridegroom.
“Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready…” (Revelation 19:7)
It was then that I understood why Apostle Paul said “to live is Christ, to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). His life wasn’t lived for himself; his life was given to Christ and carried out with purpose because he had come to understand that breath was a gift from the Lord.
For years, I had lived life for myself for my own gain, but Paul and the disciples knew that there was a coming age when Jesus would be coming back to restore all things. Yearning to see the return of Christ, they gave their lives to Christ’s mission: The Great Commission.
Understanding they were citizens of a heavenly kingdom, they lived like sojourners on earth. One of my favourite passages is from Hebrews 11:13-16.
“All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth … they were longing for a better country – a heavenly one.” (Hebrews 11:13-16)
When we understand where we’re going, we can take up the courage to yield ourselves wholeheartedly to the Lord and run this race of life with eternity set in our hearts, keeping in our sights the day that we will see Him again.
The Christian walk isn’t one where we can survive on sprints alone. Personally, I’ve found that it’s more like a long-distance run through different terrains. Marathons demand perseverance and endurance that have been rooted in discipline and intentionality, more so than sprints.
John the Baptist was a forerunner in this area, a man who carried the message of Jesus’ first coming. He was set apart since birth, lived in preparation until his public ministry and gave his whole life to be a friend of the Bridegroom. Jesus also said this of him: “Amongst those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist.” (Luke 7:28)
I believe that a life like John the Baptist’s is not impossible in modern day Singapore. Despite the hustle and bustle and many demands and distractions, we can still choose to be set apart, living our lives in preparation of His coming.
Running with endurance would look like Daniel’s resolve to not be defiled (Daniel 1:8) or John the Baptist’s decision to live in the wilderness. Both men set themselves apart to be formed and shaped by the Lord.
In this day and age, it would look like making space to seek the Lord’s wisdom and understanding by being rooted in His word and truth. It would look like listening to His voice above the popular voices of this world. It would look like choosing to love and serve the global and local Church and the least, the last and the lost.
In the simplest form, it would require simple obedience – a heart’s response towards Jesus that is fervent unto the very end.
“Lord, teach me to be a long-distance runner,” I answered in prayer when He challenged me to slow down. And in a symbolic act of changing my heart’s sprinting ways, I started to physically run longer distances, recently completing a 10km run.
I remember losing heart around the 5km mark, unsure if I could go yet another 5km. But the friends that I had signed up with urged me forward, reminding me that I wasn’t alone and that they too were pushing towards the finishing line.
A friend of mine recently shared this: A runner running to win the race doesn’t just run casually, but with purpose and vision. There will be aches and challenges, but he pushes through for the prize.
The best part of this race is that we aren’t running towards a futile goal but an eternal one. While sojourning here on earth, will we have the assurance of what we hope for and confidence in what we cannot see (Hebrews 11:1)?
Jaclyn is part of the team hosting the 2019 Burning Hearts Conference, which beckons forerunners who desire to wholeheartedly devote their lives to the Lord. The conference will be held at Kum Yan Methodist Church from July 18-20, 2019. For more information or to register, visit the Burning Hearts Conference page.
THINK + TALK
- Have you felt caught up in a race, even in ministry?
- What does living for Jesus’ return look like to you?
- How can we run the Christian race with endurance?
- What are some struggles you might face along the way?