Pick Me, Lord!

In elementary gym class, there were times when we’d play team games. The teacher would choose captains, who were then allowed to choose their own teams. They’d alternate, each captain choosing one person at a time until the entire class was on one team or another. I would stand there, a bashful, non-athletic redhead, making furtive glances through my eyelashes with my head bent toward the floor thinking, Pick me! Pick me! Please, pick me!

For me, those periods of waiting were pure torture. I was among friends, among classmates and acquaintances I had known and spent six hours a day with since I was five years old, but I had to just stand there and wait and hope while, one by one, their names were called and mine was not. More than half the class would usually have gone to one side of the room or the other by the time I heard my name: “Rhonda!” Finally, with relief, I would join the side who had chosen me. I hadn’t been chosen first, but I hadn’t been chosen last, and I had been chosen. What a relief.

I wonder: What might have happened if I had been less bashful, more eager? More confident? If I had been one of those kids who could barely contain themselves, bouncing up and down with their hands in the air and audibly shouting, “Pick me! Pick me!” Might I have been chosen first, or at least in the first half of the class rather than the last? Or would I still have had to play the waiting game?

Tonight, I had a fleeting vision of being back in that elementary gym class, amongst a bunch of other eager kids bouncing up and down with hands high in the air and shouting, “Pick me! Pick me!” But I wasn’t in an elementary gym class. I was at a church prayer meeting, one celebrating the birthday of our church and asking for God’s hand and blessing on our church for the future (check out the inspiration in Ezra 8). In my heart, I long to do more in the church and I was volunteering to the Lord, Use me. Please, use me. But instead of only one volunteer, like when God asked for a volunteer and the prophet Isaiah responded, I envisioned the entire roomful of hundreds of volunteers saying, “I’ll go, Lord”—and drowning out my voice, taking place after place on the team while I was left sitting on the sidelines thinking, Pick me, Lord. Please, pick me.

Church Prayer Meeting

Not that I don’t think God won’t pick me, someday. But I feel like I’ve been waiting on the sidelines for a while, hoping my name would be called. Hoping I would be called to join the ministry in some capacity, even while I see one person after another get called into ministry, even while others are quitting the team. But now that I’m home, I can’t get that picture of waiting, that picture of hundreds of volunteers in the place of the lone one—Isaiah—out of my head. So I looked up the passage. And I discovered something: There is a reason for the wait.

Here’s the passage I had been thinking of (Isaiah 6:8, NIV):

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I [Isaiah] said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Isaiah volunteered and was chosen. He didn’t need to compete with others—he was the only one there besides angels, as far as I know. Simple. Right after volunteering, God gave Isaiah his marching orders: “Go.”

But there was a scene I had forgotten about right before that one, one that I think is just as important (Isaiah 6:1, 5-7, NIV):

I saw the Lord, high and exalted, sitting on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. … “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”

What I realized was that when Isaiah first came before the Lord, he wasn’t ready. The Lord had to prepare him for what was to come before he could be used. And while I know my sin has been atoned for—Jesus’ death and resurrection did that—I also know that the waiting stages are often times of preparation. Times when God is preparing us for what is to come, equipping us with what we need to serve him. Because one thing I can’t ever imagine is God leaving someone who genuinely and eagerly pleads, Pick me! Pick me, Lord! on the sidelines without one day saying, “I need you.”

The Lord will use me, in his own time, in his own way, for his own glory. Meanwhile, I’m glad to be one of many raising my hand, waiting, and whispering, Pick me, Lord.

Bits & Pieces
I have an update on last week’s running goals! If you’re interested, check it out in the newest section of my blog, the Virtual Running Club Menu (accessed on the left, through the main menu).

Also, ICYMI, earlier this week I posted about another blog feature, the Daily Blessings Menu (also accessed on the left). I’m trying to acknowledge God’s blessings more and complain less, and this is one way I’m going about doing it.

Finally, I launched an InstaGram account to tie in with this blog: rhondalorraineblog. It’s linked on the left, too. Follow and share!

Daily Blessings Blog Feature

Do you, like me, sometimes fail to recognize God’s blessings within and upon your life? I know and confess that I am quick to complain—much quicker to complain than I am to acknowledge God’s blessings and praise him. And I want this to change. Because of this, I have started a section of this blog called Daily Blessings. It’s in the main menu on the left, right below Home and About Me. What you’ll see if you click on that is a list of options. The first option, a page titled Blessings Beyond Measure, explains in more detail what I intend(ed) to do with that part of the site. (I also bare my soul a bit more than I am comfortable with, but that is part of the challenge of this blog: be real, be vulnerable, encourage others in God through it all.)

Yellow flowers with quote blessings beyond measure are God’s greatest treasure

Beyond the first option is a list of dates. If you enjoy reading my weekly posts and want more, then you may want to check out Daily Blessings on a regular basis. As you’ll see, I’ve been writing daily (lately, as the busy-ness of the semester sets in, every-other-daily) about a God-given blessing I have recognized and tried to acknowledge in my life. I intended for these to be short, quick, this is a blessing, thank you God pages, but lately they’ve taken on a life of their own and are almost blog posts in and of themselves.

There is one thing missing from this part of the blog, and that is you. When I began it, I envisioned it as a section not only to acknowledge blessings in my life, but also to hear about blessings in yours. Would you share your own blessings? Comment about what God has been doing in your life, to encourage me and others? Let’s acknowledge God’s blessings together, and in so doing honor and praise him.

Aside: What do you think? Keep the dates or title them by a word that names the blessing? Or date + blessing together?

Running Races, Running Buddies

In October 2017, I finished a marathon. I won’t say I ran a marathon, because the truth is that I spent much of my time walking, not running, and slowly at that. “Don’t sell yourself short,” you may say. “You’re exaggerating. You finished! It couldn’t have been that bad.” Yes, I finished, but it was a marathon with thousands of runners and I finished last. Dead. Last.

Officially, I was 3,137th of 3,137. My time was 7:48.47, with an average pace of 17:53.

Receiving my medal after walking under the collapsed finish line.

I still have mixed feelings about that race. After all, I put hours and hours and miles and miles into training for it. I enjoyed the process, and I enjoy running, even if I am much slower than every other runner I know. When I am in training, I can even get to a decent, consistent pace, around ten-minute miles. And I did finish. There were two extenuating circumstances, in particular, on race day that made it difficult to finish: wind gusts up to 40mph (the finish line blew over minutes before I arrived!) and aching, painful shoulders from a new bra (chafing led to the purchase. Enough said). But I also can’t help but be disappointed with my performance and embarrassed to admit how I placed.

I think what I’m most disappointed about is that, besides a handful of times, I haven’t been out running since. And I miss it.

People who do not enjoy running are always mystified to hear that others do enjoy it. I used to be one of those people. I first started ten-ish years ago to lose weight (why else), and continued because I loved the physical and mental challenges and rewards. A few years later I joined a running group through my church began to love the social aspect of running. Runners are a special group of people, encouraging and supportive and friendly and running can be a social activity even for someone like me who runs most often by herself. Er, ran.

In fact, if it weren’t for other runners and my runner friends, it would have been much harder for me to finish the marathon that day. People along the way encouraged each other. One friend from my church group (an ultra-marathoner) finished his half, ate a meal, met up with me, and walked the rest of the way to the finish line with me.

Even in life—non-running life—my runner friends are there walking alongside me. One asks me monthly if I’m running again and encourages me whether I am or not. His wife has taken me on as her “daughter” and always calls me “my girl.” These people are dear to me, and they are people I never would have known if it hadn’t been for running. It’s nice to know I have friends who will encourage and run beside me, not only in physical races, but also in the spiritual one we’ve all signed up to run together.

Last week, when I posted Not Enough, I had stumbled and grown discouraged. But many readers—fellow “runners”—came alongside me and encouraged me. I am so thankful and blessed to have each of you to run alongside with in life. I only hope and pray I can encourage you to get back up and keep going if the need arises. Let’s run together.

Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfected of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Heb. 12:1-3, NIV)

As for running in the physical sense? I can’t just end this post without challenging myself to take it up again. I don’t know why I do this to myself when snow is inches deep on the ground, the temperature outside is below zero, and the wind chill is lower than that, but do it I will. For now, my challenge to myself—my goal for the year—will remain undecided, but I will undertake a mini-goal of getting on the dreadmill for at least three runs before I post next week. And if any readers would like to be my virtual running buddies, I could always use more running friends. Runners are some of the best people I know.