Designed to win!

Heart-Compass-LG“May He grant you according to your heart’s desire, and fulfill all your purpose.” (Psalm 20:4, NKJV)

My heart has been gripped by a young man whose life seemed to fracture apart in an instant. Just a few weeks ago a wave crashed down on him in Hawaii, and his spine was broken. My youngest son knows his brother, and I have many friends who love this family and have done “life” together in our small mountain town.

How do you wrap your mind around this? 19-years-old, a freshman in college, his whole life before him, and then a wave crashes down on him … and seemingly on his family as well.

But I’ve been reading his sister’s blog – “In the Light of Unfailing Love” – which she started in the first few days of her family’s new journey – and my heart is so full of God. I see them running their race – with a conviction in every cell of their being that God is beside them, their coach and encourager who intends for each of them to win – especially 19-year-old Tommy.

Have you ever wondered how you can run the race and win the prize that Paul talks about in 1 Corinthians (9:24)? And what about circumstances like this? Can Tommy – or anyone who experiences tragedy – really win? What makes sense is that we each have our own unique race to run, a race God runs with us through all circumstances, pointing us toward hope and joy. I know the ultimate prize is heaven – but I believe He is a father who wants me to have victory in my lifetime, just like I want my own children to experience victory in their lives. He is a good, good Father who designed each of us to fulfill our destiny, and even planned in advance the good works we would do to fulfill it.

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago,” (Ephesians 2:10, NLT).

When Secretariat, the amazing Triple Crown winner died, it was discovered that he had a heart that was 2 times larger than the typical horse! It was as if God designed him to be spectacularly glorious in running. I believe God wants each of us to be spectacularly glorious in our earthly races, just like Secretariat. Our human hearts are enlarged by the God who dwells in us, who placed His Kingdom within us (Luke 17:21) so that we could win.

When we do what we are gifted with, we tap into the internal compass that keeps us aimed at the prize, the hope and joy God wants us to experience with Him now. In the movie “Chariots of Fire,” Olympic runner Eric Liddell explains “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.”

Eric Liddell tapped into his gift, he felt God’s pleasure, and went on to become an Olympic champion. Even when I didn’t know the Lord, and I was stumbling through the pain and brokenness I experienced after being kidnapped and raped, there was an internal compass that pointed me toward the finish line, so I could stumble through the pain toward hope and joy. As I began to tap into my gift of writing, as I connected to the friends who sat with me through the court proceedings and then encouraged me in the following months and years, I got a taste of what it can mean to run the race well – I started to feel purpose, to feel His pleasure when I wrote, and got propelled into other passions waiting to be discovered.

“We must let go of every wound that has pierced us and the sin we so easily fall into. Then we will be able to run life’s marathon race with passion and determination, for the path has been already marked out before us.” (Hebrews 12:1, The Passion Translation)

The path to victory has been marked out before us – but the “race of life” we end up with often looks different from what we thought it was going to be. Because of what happened to me, my life took a path I had no way of anticipating! God brought me into a healing ministry, he surrounded me with friends who encouraged me, and He especially helped me to gain a voice, to find outlets for my writing and venues to speak at. I discovered that I could be a life-giver to others – that I could share my gifts and be part of the “great cloud of witnesses” that we all need.

When we look from a human perspective, how can any of us feel victorious when life-crushing events occur? How can Tommy win? And what about my two friends who lost their husbands this year and still have young children to raise … and my friends who seek light on the other side of heart-wrenching divorces … and the husband I know who stands vigil at his wife’s bedside as she struggles to come out of a coma and fight the cancer that fills her body … and the mother who contends for her drug-addicted child?

We can win because we have an internal compass pointing us to hope and joy; we instinctively dig down deep into our hearts where passion and courage reside … we may not understand it at the time, but God placed the compass there especially for the life-crushing events.

The compass points me in the right direction, as if my heart knows what I need before my brain does. There has been a lot of change in my life over the last year, and there were times when I found myself struggling, as if the scab had been pulled off an old injury. My heart pointed me to friends who refuse to run mediocre races – they invite me into their brokenness, inspire me with their courage and fill me with hope and joy. I see how they place their broken hearts in God’s hands, and He breathes life and hope into their spirits. He gave them what they needed for their races, and I know He gives me what I need for my race. I want to come out on the other side of this “season of change” being spiritually larger and more powerful, running an even better race – writing more, speaking hope and joy into my family and friends – and this “cloud of witnesses” helps me to do that.

The most recent update on Tommy is that he is breathing on his own and using his arms – two things the doctors said would not be possible. It’s a victory! And I know God the Father designed Tommy’s heart for more victory – for many more victories in his life. When we understand that we are all part of a great cloud of witnesses who press ahead by tapping into our amazing hearts – unique hearts that God intentionally gave us for our races – we know it’s possible to go beyond human limits and into the realm of God-designed amazing lives. I believe when we get to Heaven we will see the size of our hearts, filled with God’s gifts, and we will know how much we are loved and how much He wanted us to win.

“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” –Isaiah 40:31