Let’s clear up any confusion right now: this is NOT about physically running with joy. To anyone who physically runs with joy, I applaud you. That is not me. I only run for a purpose (rehab after surgery, play a sport, escape mortal danger) and it’s not joyfully! Instead, let’s discuss how to run the unique race God has for each of us with joy.
As a planner, when life’s race plans suddenly or slowly become impossible to navigate, panic ensues. After a deep cleansing breath, one thing is clear: God is there. Even though I know this, I still cry, complain, wonder, question and plead for a different or better path. My prayers are always answered but like any good parent, His answer is sometimes no. Still, God’s presence remains. He keeps loving and leading me through every unknown path.
The Christian life of running the race God has for us isn’t always filled with joy. The joy is always there but only experienced if we actively seek it. Joy arrives in our faithful understanding of God’s omnipresence. Just like the two on the road to Emmaus, God opens our eyes to see and minds to understand what He wants for us in every moment. He always knows what we need, because He knows all.
We can’t always see the next step or if the path is smooth and sunny or rocky and rainy. But God still leads. We simply need to trust and faithfully follow.
Yet, this trust often eludes us.
Why? We trust valuable items to others all the time: the tow truck driver or valet with our cars, other people with our children and our money with bankers and accountants. None of these people are perfect, in fact, they’re all very imperfect. Our society is founded on a semblance of trust in similarly sinful people. We trust in sinful people, but we question God.
I’ve done it too often. I questioned why I was born into a comfortable American life while serving those born into a slum. I questioned why innocent, God-fearing people have to suffer or leave this earth too soon. I’ve questioned why almost every day of my life. However, in virtually the same thought, I’ve always known part of the answer: I’m not God who knows everything.
God knows our past, present, and future. He’s had a plan since before we were born. God doesn’t mind if we question Him. I think He actually encourages us to think and wonder deeply. Because the more we dig, seek, and search, the more we find Him.
Nothing is guaranteed in life, but one thing is for sure. God is here with a race plan for each of us. We discover the path as we follow. It’s like the beautiful path I stumbled upon earlier this month. It was unexpected and unknown but so was the joy I found following it. I would have never experienced that joy if I hadn’t trusted God enough to lead me through it.
The same can be said for all our races. We don’t know where they’ll take us. Our races will probably involve pain, grief, disappointment and the unwanted at some point. But let’s not ever allow the negative to stop us from running with joy. When we trust God to lead our race, we run with joy.
To run with joy is to be open to it, seek it, and see it. Joy awaits those who follow, so let’s keep running with the joy we all have living inside us.
As I mentioned a few months ago, I’m seeking joy this year. Some days are better than others. But I’m resetting my focus and creating a new habit of #FindingJoy each and every day. In June, I’ll post each day’s joyful find on social media and dig into joy here on the blog. Look for me now on Instagram, too! (@jillmhoven)
Join me and run with joy by seeking it daily!