Running the Race

Featuring Dennis Jernigan Posted on August 4, 2008

Come unto me, all [ye] that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Matthew 11:28 KJV

When I look back at my life I see a lot of debris left in the wake of my journey. All the failure and necessary storms that served to sand away the rough edges and lead me to my identity in Christ. Some of the debris – actually a huge part of that debris - is what is left of the enemy’s lies as he tried (and sometimes succeeded) to get me off course. Sometimes I have grown really weary in running the race, though, as I’m sure we would all admit if we were honest. Running is hard work! And the reality of our race is that we are not running measly little sprints and being done with it. We are running a race of distance and endurance – and that race leads us through many storms and through many twists and turns, all while we shed the things that used to define us. The debris is really holy altars reminding us of all God has done if you think about it!

… let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset [us], and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of [our] faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hebrews 12:1-2 KJV

I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately and have come up with some of the reasons I grow weary. This list is not exhaustive but merely what readily comes to my mind as I write this. Weariness is exacerbated when I believe the lies of the enemy about who I am, about what I am called to do, and about my relevance. How do I overcome this weariness? By resting! Duh! Where do I rest in this instance? I must rest in God’s truth. I am His child called to do His will. And relevance? As long as there are people with needs and I have breath, I will be relevant to the Kingdom!

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life…
John 14:6 KJV

Weariness comes when we become separated from other believers. Not many are called to do what I do (blab about my freedom from same-sex attraction) so I can tend to paint myself into a corner if I am not careful. The enemy loves to separate the sheep from the flock in any way he can. When I spend so much time ministering to others that I neglect my own soul, that cannot be good! When I go for periods of time wishing someone would call and reach out to me for a change, I get weary! In all of these instances I must rest. And where do I rest? I rest in the arms of my Friend of Friends, Jesus Christ…and I reach out to others whether they reach out to me or not.

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
John 15:13 KJV

The next thing that comes to my mind goes hand in hand with the last wearisome thing I mentioned. The need for ministry is so great out there that I cannot possibly minister to them all one on one as I would like! Receiving multiple e-mails daily from those who want help can take quite a good deal of time…and the number of teenagers struggling with same-sex attraction is mind-boggling. But some days I find myself trying to meet everyone’s need…and I wind up an emotionally drained mess! I can only do what I can do – and to remedy this weariness, I must rest. And where do I rest? I rest in the fact that Jesus is the Savior and I am not! And I have learned that I can only help those who really want help.

… there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
Acts 4:12 KJV

Lately, I have grown weary just thinking about how many times I have shared my story through the years and of how many people have chosen to walk toward their freedom only to be bombarded by the state of affairs we find ourselves in here in America. California just legalized same-sex marriage and is trying to force it upon every state in the union. Judges actively legislate from the bench and go directly against the will of the people. Liberal thinking has turned our cultural common sense upside down. What is righteous is now called evil and what is evil is now called good. It seems that everywhere I look these days evil is winning! This makes me VERY weary and makes me wonder if I am having any effect at all. When I get like this, I must rest. Where do I rest? I rest in the Champion who has triumphed over evil. I read the end of the Book and remember that we win!

So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption,
and this mortal shall have put on immortality,
then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written,
Death is swallowed up in victory.
O death, where [is] thy sting? O grave, where [is] thy victory?
The sting of death [is] sin; and the strength of sin [is] the law.
But thanks [be] to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:54-57 KJV

Weariness comes when I become self-focused. Self-focus is like a cockle burr that gets caught on your sock as you run through a field. At first you don’t even know it’s there but you keep running and keep doing. After awhile the irritation becomes so intense that you become agitated and begin thinking thoughts like “Why does this have to happen to me?” or “When will I catch a break?” This weariness comes when I focus more on what I do not have rather than what I do have. When this weariness comes, rest is vital! Where do I rest? I rest in worshipping God and focusing on the needs of others…and I take time to simply ‘be’. Rest is vital if we are to endure the race.

Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence [is] fulness of joy;
at thy right hand [there are] pleasures for evermore.

Psalm 16:11 KJV

One last thing that makes me weary: I have people from time to time tell me it is time to move on from my testimony - to stop living in the past. While I think I know what they mean, reality is that I can never get away from my story. It is what it is and I wear the scars proudly. If I do not share what God has done for me how can those in the same bondage know there is hope? This makes me weary! I need some rest! Where do I find that rest? I find rest in the daily times of refreshment I seek with Jesus. He takes me to new places in glory. Do you think I rest on the laurels of my past songs or writings? I still seek God for new songs and still seek to learn more from Him about who He is. My past is what it is…and I look at the scars and I look back at the debris of my life and I see glory and I receive grace and hope to keep on keeping on! When I look back I receive strength to move ahead because I can see how much He has already done!

And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb,
and by the word of their testimony;
and they loved not their lives unto the death.
Revelation 12:11 KJV

Run your race well…by learning to rest in God’s presence. He is there when you do not have time to stop and pray. He is there when you are bombarded by the day-to-day cares of life. He is there waiting to bathe you in the rest only His presence can provide. Even in your running He is there with rest. He is there when you look back and see the debris and the storms and the twists and the turns you have already come through (see that debris as altars where He has done great things. Thank Him and move on!). Rest in what He has done. Rest in what He is doing. Rest in what is to come…because He is there every step of the way! Our God is Faithful.

I'll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness,
the taste of ashes, the poison I've swallowed.
I remember it all—oh, how well I remember—
the feeling of hitting the bottom.
But there's one other thing I remember,
and remembering, I keep a grip on hope:
God's loyal love couldn't have run out,
his merciful love couldn't have dried up.
They're created new every morning.
How great your faithfulness!
I'm sticking with God (I say it over and over).
He's all I've got left.
Lamentations 3:19-24
The Message

Dennis Jernigan is a husband to Melinda, daddy to 9 (+2), pastor, mentor, worship leader, song receiver, and author who makes his home in Muskogee, Oklahoma. For more info on how to have DJ share his story and minister healing to your church or group, go to or call 1-800-877-0406 and ask for Derek Pfeifer.

This article was first published in the online magazine called iLevite