Running for Hope
"I have chills."
You've probably heard this.
You may have even said this.
You may be one of those that say this a lot.
It's usually related to something unexpected.
But, for me, not so much.
I had never said this (in a non-weather or non-fever-related comment), let alone understood this.
Since I had never experienced this myself in these unexplainable situations, I doubted if it was real.
I usually dismiss this as their mere acknowledgement or support thinking, "That's sweet and all, but is it really true? Did you really just get chills or are you just saying that?"
Now, I haven't vocalized that to someone in these moments, because really, it seems kind of rude, but since we're challenged to be authentic, I'm taking off the mask of a-southern-woman-is-always-nice-and-polite-never-rude, and I'll embrace my raw thoughts with y'all.
In other words, it seemed more like a habit to say rather than a genuine experience.
But now, I get to...
Not just once but time and time and time again.
Not the best way to start this week's post off, but after all of that talk about authenticity last week, I think it's important.
Last week, I shared about my own journey to authenticity. One little word changed my response to a phone call but also my year and now my life! God used an ordinary conversation with a friend by the name of Colin to call me to a higher standard in my own walk.
As I shared last week, Colin has learned how to be honest. Through a journey of addiction into freedom, he learned the power of authenticity.
Some of the first friends I met when I moved to OKC were active with a Christian ministry called Hope Is Alive.
I look back now and see God's provision in this for me. To fulfill the purpose He has for me, He needed me to become authentic. He would not let me settle in behind the comfort of a mask of got-it-all-together and nothing-to-see-here.
He needed me to let go of the fear of what people think so He placed people in my life who had already overcome the initial grips of this and were making strides towards experiencing more freedom in their lives.
Hope Is Alive
It was at a casual dinner, grabbing burgers with new friends where I first met Colin and heard my first of many "Colin stories." The laughter mostly rooted in the absurdity of the stories, including 911 calls, ambulances, even mini blinds.
Y'all, they're epic. But with so little time, you'll just have to trust me on that one.
In the midst of the contagious laughter over greasy burgers that night, I met some incredible people whose lives had been forever changed by Hope Is Alive.
Hope Is Alive is a ministry which seeks those who are recovering from addiction and offers them community and structure as they transition from rehab back into the world where temptations are rampant and readily accessible.
The focus of this ministry is near and dear to my heart.
I believe in it. I love seeing God's power through HIA testimonials.
Even though I may not seek substances for comfort in painful times, I naturally seek false comforts just the same. I need Jesus just as much as the next, if not more.
Over the last few years, HIA has held a memorial 5k run honoring a man who experienced healing from addiction and later tragically passed. Participating again this last Fall, I turned on a worship playlist.
(I used to think JT was the answer to long distance running. Turns out, it's prayer and praise.)
To get everyone hyped for the run, HIA roped Colin into a little promotional video... Enjoy!
Yep, that's Colin. A real goof ball!
He can make you laugh about anything. Even carrot hotdogs.
Yep. You read that right.
Never have I ever heard of carrot hotdogs.
Again, eating my words.
But at least, I'm not eating a carrot hotdog. I think my own words are easier to swallow...
He had me and a couple friends in tears laughing one day after hearing how his grandma served him a carrot hotdog. Apparently, he didn't have the heart to turn it down, so he ate the whole thing.
That's one way to get your vegetables, I guess.
Signs of His Faithfulness
But anyway, back to the run. As the race starts, the first song comes on. It's Evidence by Josh Baldwin.
As I ran through the park overlooking the lake, I passed signs intentionally placed along this path. These were not signs serving as mile markers or indicating the distance ran but of people who have overcome the chains of addiction and found true, lasting hope.
People who have seen and experienced the power of God in their own lives through the work of Hope Is Alive.
You know those moments when nothing else seems to matter except the right here and now? Well, this was one of those times for me. I couldn't escape these thoughts if I wanted to. I was completely surrounded by the presence of God on this 5k.
You know, I think when we're walking with God, we're always surrounded just not always aware. This time, I was completely aware of the presence of God on this 5k.
Awareness is a discipline I often neglect but am learning to practice. God is everywhere and in everything.
Are we looking?
Are we listening?
The lyrics of this song hit me to my core. It sings,
All throughout my history Your faithfulness has walked beside me The winter storms made way for spring In every season, from where I'm standing I see the evidence of Your goodness All over my life, all over my life I see Your promises in fulfillment All over my life, all over my life Help me remember when I'm weak Fear may come but fear will leave You lead my heart to victory You are my strength and You always will be... See the cross, the empty grave The evidence is endless All my sin rolled away Because of You, oh Jesus I see the evidence of Your goodness All over my life, all over my life I see Your promises in fulfillment All over my life, all over my life Why should I fear The evidence is here - Evidence, Josh Baldwin
And evidence of the Lord's goodness was all over this race. Each sign I passed brought a new wave of chills as I tangibly and physically felt God's nearness and power.
At first, I was tempted to blame the first wave of chills on the temperature but quickly realized I couldn't do that. There was no wind that day, which is a rare thing in Oklahoma.
These chills were unexplainable. These chills washed over me not once, not twice, but every time I passed a sign. I thought surely it was made up in my mind or just a coincidence, but there's no way that could be the case.
What started as a sensation on my arms and legs, soon took hold of my heart and led my mind to a deeper place, a place of remembrance.
A Place of Remembrance
Staring through my blurred, watery and teary eyes as I looked at the faces to my right and left on these signs, I imagined how God had redeemed their lives from the pit of addiction. With each step, I was inspired to let go of the fear in my own thoughts and remember how God has been with me in every high, every low, and every plateau along the way.
The testimonies of these beautiful, redeemed and restored lives speak of our God who breaks chains of addiction and restores us for His glory!
There is no pit too deep, no shadow too dark, no pain too real, no place out of the reach of His love.
I'm not sure your story. I don't know your history, but we all need to be restored in different ways.
So I have to ask, what has taken hold of you? You don't have to settle for a life of being held back and struck down any longer. Your heavenly Father HAS set you free!
What evidence do you have in your life of God's faithfulness? Remembering how He was near to us then helps us trust He is near to us now and will continue to be near to us in the days ahead.
Let's find strength in His resume of how He was faithful then. Let's find joy building as the chills become evident on our skin. Let the evidence of His goodness fill us with peace as we rest our thoughts not on the fears before us or the pits we find ourselves in but in the hope He offers us.
The good life, well it starts with a good day. Then another. Then another. Let's choose to live #TheGoodDay one day at a time.
Want to learn more about Hope Is Alive?
Check it out here!
I love hearing from you, so go ahead. Leave a comment. Be brave. Maybe your comment will speak life into someone else!