Are there things standing in your way today? Are they making you weary and tired in the fight? Are they convincing you that you will never get past this obstacle? That you will always feel this way, and that you will never actually taste freedom?
I get it. I’ve been there before. I’d be lying if I said there weren’t days where I still felt stuck by struggles and anxieties I wanted to leave behind years ago. But I want to believe with you that we will not be defined by the things that try to hold us back. I want to believe that we will overcome the hard things and run, unhindered, the race set before us.
There’s a part in Paul’s letter to the church at Galatia that gets me every time I read it.
“You were running well,” he writes, “who cut in on you?”
It’s almost as if you can sense Paul’s earnest concern, saying it with sympathy, “what happened to you? What’s tripped you up?”
These words felt like a gut punch in my stomach when I read them in a season where I was stuck in comparison and it took me down. I was struggling with envy, jealousy and comparison. I was comparing myself to others and the comparison game always left me feeling empty and even more insecure.
Measuring yourself against other people is never smart.
You will either end up feeling small or you’ll inflate your ego to feel bigger. I don’t think God wants us in either of these postures.
I think God wants us to deal with our hurdles – to face them and get over them instead of trying to shove them away in a closet where we don’t have to see them. Because here’s the truth: the hurdles not being in your face anymore does not mean you’ve actually dealt with them. It just means you’ve hidden them.
And it will only take that person showing up on your Instagram feed, or a text message, or a conversation, or a memory triggered for you to be flooded once again with the reality of that hurdle you never dealt with.
The things we shove out of sight always come back to haunt us.
On the day you don’t deal with something or someone, a ghost is born.
We have to stop believing the lie that hiding the thing that’s tripping us up is the same as dealing with it. Otherwise, we might stay stuck in these prisons forever.
So how do we start to deal with the hurdles and dismantle them?
I’ve found some of the ways we deal with those hurdles in that same letter to the church at Galatia and I want to share Paul’s words with you:
- This detour doesn’t come from the One who called you into the race in the first place.
Paul immediately puts it out there: God is not the one who created this hurdle. God is the one who called you into the race in the first place but He doesn’t cause detours or delight in them. There is a real enemy that has nothing to do with flesh and blood and he wants me and you to forever be tripped up by this hurdle. Well.. Not today, satan. Not today.
- Please don’t toss this off as insignificant. It only takes a minute amount of yeast, you know, to permeate an entire loaf of bread.
This is the second truth bomb Paul lays on us. He tells the people that they shouldn’t shove it away or hide it. It only takes something so small to have the permission to stick around and fester, to ruin something of much bigger proportions. If we try to say, “it’s no big deal” then we are going to suffer when the “no big deal” becomes a much bigger deal that engulfs our minds and takes us away from the people we love and want to be present for.
- It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life.
I need to tell myself this truth daily. God is calling me to live a free life. Not a hindered life. Not a half-hearted life. Not a life where I am stuck and bound to the things that hold me back. But a free life. A life of joy and love. A life unburdened by the hurdles. I think sometimes it’s easier to tell ourselves a lie that this is just as good as it gets and we might always have to struggle with this hurdle, but we are not called to give up that easily.
There are some hurdles we thought we got over but they’re still hindering us in major ways. We’re not actually running free and that’s a problem. It’s time to drag those hurdles out into the light and fully face them.
This year isn’t over yet. It would be easy to hide behind our hurdles and claim we’re too tired or injured to keep running the race but that’s what God has for you and I.
But we think there’s an even better way of running up ahead and it starts with facing the things that are trying to hold us back.
He’s got this. Don’t quit.