Sunday, February 14, 2016

Are You Complete?

As I was trying, and not succeeding, to write something for Valentine's Day, I came across something I wrote about two years ago. I know, at first, valence electrons may not seem to have a whole lot of connection with this celebration of love, but if you dig beneath the surface, I believe you can find timely applications. As humans made in the image of God, we were created to desire romance (see my post I Am Romanced). But we were created with this desire because it can actually point us to Christ. Although we need relationships with other people, if we are not complete in Christ, other people alone will never satisfy us. Ask yourself where you are seeking satisfaction. Unless you let Jesus fill you, you will be empty forever.  

Valence Electrons and the Desire to be Complete: 

Atoms are the building blocks of what we are made of; the basis of our physical being, but when one looks deeper, it becomes clear that they also reflect the need of our spiritual being.

Valence electrons are the electrons in the outer shell of an atom. A complete outer shell holds eight valence electrons. Not all atoms have a complete outer shell, but they have a desire to be complete, and they will do whatever it takes to fulfill that yearning. Atoms might give up their own electrons, or they may take from others. These actions are driven by the goal of completion. However, the atoms with eight valence electrons in their outer shell are complete. And they are content. They don’t need to look to other atoms to be complete; they don’t give themselves away, or take from others.

Do these characteristics sound familiar? We too have a desire to be complete. Made with a God-shaped hole, we constantly seek for completion. Some of us look to others for satisfaction. Sometimes we take advantage of others and mistreat them. However, there is only one way for us to be complete, and once our hearts are filled with Jesus, we can be content. We don’t have to keep looking because He has filled us! He’ll keep working on us--forming us and shaping us into the beautiful creation we were made to be, but we are full.

The basis of our physical being reflects the need of our spiritual being. Are you complete? 

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Fix Our Eyes

I am only one month away from track season, and I have never felt more unprepared, and quite frankly, terrified. Because of how last season ended, I am afraid of what this one holds. I know that I can move on from past failures and have a come-back, but that still does not take away the empty pit in my gut that I don't know how to describe except as an athlete's heartbreak. And as I am writing this, I realize I am probably over exaggerating what happened-- I simply had a bad day, that's all. That bad day just happened to be at State, so I still have not completely gotten over it.

This winter's training has not gone as planned. I wanted to get into amazing shape before track started, so when it did, I could jump right into the record-breaking times I need. Good intentions are useless if they are not followed by actions.

"Transformation is not a future event. It is a present activity." -- Jillian Michaels

We cannot expect results if we are not willing to work for them. You cannot have a goal of being a state champion or breaking a record unless you are going to put in the effort it takes to get there.

I went for a run this afternoon. On the slippery, snowy road, my feet kept sliding backwards. I'd go forward a little, and then slip back. Forward a little, and then slip back. It was a perfect illustration of my winter training. But it was really not helping my attitude at the time. The road that I have traveled a thousand times felt like a foreign trail that I had no idea where it ended. The hills that I have conquered equally as often, suddenly turned into Pikes Peak.

"Look down, slow down." "Fast and loose." "Press into the hill." Coach's words entered my mind as I ran. I kept noticing myself looking down at the ground right in front of me. If you only look where you are, you can't expect to go anywhere, at least not quickly. Yet at the same time, if you look too far out ahead, you'll get discouraged at how far away you are from where you want to be. You have to find that happy medium, and fix your eyes on that point. During a run, that spot is usually a tree, the top of a hill, or a bend in the road. But where should that sweet spot be in everyday life? For me, it usually tends to be a task. "If I can just get this done..." "Once I'm finished with this, then I can move on to that, and then I can..." This helps me accomplish what I need to and be productive, but at the same time, it really stresses me out.

"Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith..." --Hebrews 12:1-2

We must run with endurance. But we must fix our eyes on Christ.

One thing I've been learning the past few months is, as described in Jesus Calling, we must take each day moment by moment. We must live in the present.

This is a struggle for me. And I often get confused as to how we are supposed live in the present, and not get caught up in the future, but still have an eternal perspective and look at the bigger picture of life. But, as I reflect now, I believe it is the same as with running. We cannot look down at our feet. At the same time, we can't always look for the finish line. We have to find that happy medium--that sweet spot. And that sweet spot is Christ.

He is in control. He's in control of my life. He's in control of my track season. And He knows exactly where the finish line is and when I am going to cross it. So until then, I'm going to keep my eyes fixed on Him and run each day one step at a time.