Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Content Joy...

I just finished reading a book by the world class runner/marathoner Ryan Hall. Some of you may recognize the name-he is the American half-marathon record holder with a time of 59:43...amazing-13.1 miles in under an hour!!  His book is called "Running with Joy" and follows his daily journal of the 14 weeks before the Boston marathon in 2010.  Ryan is a believer in Jesus Christ-and it was encouraging to read his world view and how he finds joy in the competitive arena of professional running.  What stood out the most in his book was this never ending quest for being content with the amazing talent God has given him-instead of being a slave to it-and not content if things did not go as he would have liked, like winning every race!  He struggled to not get caught up in his times or what other racers were doing-comparing himself-or if he had a bad training run...I can't even imagine how hard that is when your job is running!

In our projects we meet people in both camps-those who amazingly are content despite suffering, loss and living in poverty.  We also meet people that are never content with what has been given them-they want more and at times are even rude about it!  If we were honest we would have to say that when things are going well and we have everything we want- we are content-but what about those times when nothing seems to be going right?  When you are sick? When it seems like your project is going backwards instead of forward!  Or...

you are stuck!

Twice in the same day!

Yes, these two pictures are from the same day-not to mention I had some sort of stomach bug doing the backstroke in my gut which sent me into the bush on numerous occasions-and a spiking fever with chills...I was NOT content.  Our contentment usually correlates with what is happening around us, or what we are experiencing at that moment, or what we have.  Sad really-that our contentment would be all about us. 

I was reading the other day in Philippians 4 when Paul is talking about being content no matter if he has a lot or very little -whether his stomach is full or empty.  So what was his secret? Well, much like Ryan Hall-Paul found his strength and joy in Christ.  Instead of seeing a stuck truck and getting upset-being thankful that someone gave money to get us a truck so that we could reach the kids in Porkpata with a very important message:  God Loves You. 

If I am honest I find it hard to be content.  I either let things bother me and steal my joy or I put to much pressure on myself to do more and don't just enjoy the moments I have been given to just be content in what I have done.  In Ryan Hall's book - he really wanted to win the 2010 Boston marathon-but he didn't.  He finished fourth-outside the medals-but he was content in his performance-actually he was more than that-he experienced pure joy running regardless of his finish-it was more about the journey and realizing that whether you win or loose-God created him to have a personal relationship with him that was more important than the race.

As I head further into my training-I have not been content...I have  nagging back pain that is bothering me.  I am worried about it getting worse and turning into a full blown-'cannot run'- injury.  I am concerned about raising enough money for our projects-that I will disappoint everyone-I am trying really hard not to concern myself with nailing a certain time-or improving from last year.  I must admit at times it has taken the 'joy' out of training!  However, after I read "Running with Joy"-I was reminded that no matter what happens-God has created me to do what I am doing right now-run and support the amazing people and our projects in Liberia.  Not only am I content knowing this-I consider pure joy to do so!  I have met so many people in our projects that have found the secret of being content-whether they lost everything and now are struggling to get back on their feet or if they have HIV/AIDS or if they are 76 and learning to spell their name for the first time-they are content in God's love-and what a joy they possess.  Another good reminder for me to be content in ALL circumstances. 

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