GOD'S INTENSE DESIRES IS FOR YOU TO RUN YOUR RACE WELL
Jesus Did It!
By: Norm Rasmussen
You want this life to be over. You know you are saved -- you know heaven is your home, and you want to be their NOW!
The pain of this life is more than you want to deal with anymore. The trials are too frequent; too painful. God seems so distant; so uncaring that you are in so much pain.
Truth of the matter SEEMS: “I don't think God CARES that I am suffering!”
Most every Christian who has clocked in several years with walking with the Lord comes to a crossroad in their life when a trial or trials of suffering becomes such a seemingly never-ending burden … they want their suffering to end and go to heaven.
And in that place - which you may be in RIGHT NOW – it is easy to forget that we Christians are in a race. It’s the race God has asked us each to run … and finish. In fact, finish WELL, I'm convinced.
Yet “well” is relative. Let’s imagine two Christian runners competing in a long distance race. Both runners are in superb shape, and refuse to lose to the other. The race begins, but about two-thirds through the race, one of the runners has a tendon snap in his/her leg. Down to the dirt he goes, writhing in pain. The other runner easily wins the race the way races are judged.
The wounded, frustrated and discouraged runner lying on the dirt path in pain begins talking with God. “Lord – WHY did you allow my leg to stop working?! You KNOW how hard I’ve trained to win this race. Years and years of hard training. I’ve been faithful to you in most all ways; what did I do to deserve this? Why didn’t you let me finish the race, to see which of us would be the true winner?”
And then the Holy Spirit whispers through your anguished mind:
“Who or what is keeping you from finishing the race? YOUR race? The MOST IMPORTANT race.”
You try to reason with the question. Is God suggesting I crawl the rest of the way to the finish line? No matter how painful it might be; no matter how long it takes?
And the Holy Spirit whispers, “You’ll be rewarded for it if you DO. And besides, you have no competition in this NEW race.”
Something deep inside of you rises to the challenge. Eyes from the bleachers will be watching you. You can give them a demonstration of persevering courage few get to experience. It can be life impacting for others watching you. And besides, you can have the self-satisfaction that you’re not a quitter. You have one good leg to help you get to that finish line.
So forward you start moving. At times you hop on your good leg, only to lose your balance and fall in the dirt on your face. It is too painful to get back up anymore … so you don’t try. You walk on the palms of your hands and your one good knee. The pain will cause you to pass out if you put pressure on the other knee.
Hours later, you cross the finish line. The sun has gone down. The stadium lights have come on, and yet not one person has left the grandstands. Tears are running down the faces of many … pondering deeply inside themselves if they would have had the courage and determination to do what you have finally accomplished: Crossing the finish line.
No one clocked how long it took you to finish. No one had any idea how much pain you had to push through to keep crawling to the finish line … though they knew mere words could never describe it. Why? Because they knew this was a race only YOU could run. It was part of the destiny God had for you to be challenged with, and to conquer ... or be conquered by. No one else could have run this race like you did. It was uniquely yours and yours alone to run, and to run and finish WELL, no matter how much blood was dripping off your flesh-torn hands and knees.
Is it possible that not one single person on this planet who truly understands the pain you have and are currently experiencing right now? Is it possible you might be thinking that God doesn’t either? You would be wrong. Recall the picture of one set of footprints in the sand? Jesus walking on the beach carrying someone? Could that someone be YOU?
Look around. Everywhere you see people opting out of the race God has for them to run well (to be rewarded for eternity for completing it.) Some sooth their pain and move to drugs to escape. Some immerse themselves in their profession to seek recognition and fame, even if it means being immoral and destroying families. Some thrive on hated of various forms – especially hatred at Jesus Christ – for not meeting their expectations. People are in various forms of self-imposed suicide, yet in total denial to it. They are running a race of complete failure if they don’t get connected to God’s race in Christ Jesus.
Yet YOU are not like these people. You KNOW Jesus Christ wants you winning YOUR race. But is it hard? BEYOND hard!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yet God didn’t give you a life to squander to be known as a “Life loser.” He hoped from birth you would chose to stay a “A Life winner.” A “race finisher” … determining to overcome every trying obstacle that was put before you to get you to quit or get angry with God and quit on Him – ultimately.
To those who want to please God at all costs, they repeat frequently to themselves: “Quitting my God-given race is NOT optional for me … no matter how much the pain.”
For anyone who may have come across this writing and you are not at all familiar with God’s Holy Scriptures, the qualifications to be in God’s race is to be properly connected to Jesus Christ the Judge of the race. He is the One God the Father has decreed to give each of us our rewards, as 2 Corinthians 2:15 states:
“For we (Christians)
must all stand before the Judgment
Seat of Christ, receiving reward or loss of reward for what we have done.”
(2 Corinthians 5:10)
SO DON’T QUIT! KEEP RUNNING YOUR RACE THAT GLORIFIES JESUS CHIRST, AND RUN IT TO THE BEST OF YOUR ABILITY, NO MATTER HOW MANY TIMES YOU MAY SEEM TO FALL SHORT. Falling short is normal. Getting back up is God's help for you when it seems He is so distant - so removed from your pain! DON’T LET ANYTHING KEEP YOU FROM WINNING until God determines it’s time for your heart to stop beating and you meet the One who has rewards of joy waiting for you that will be realized for eternity without end.
Here’s God’s promise to you:
Therefore we do not lose
heart [give up trusting God to
sustain us]. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly
[our spirit] we are being renewed
day by day.
For our light and momentary troubles [life's sorrows -
painful trials] are achieving for us an eternal glory that
far outweighs them all.
So we fix our eyes not on what
is seen [our pain], but on what is unseen,
[painlessness for eternity] since what is seen is temporary, but what is
unseen is eternal.
Joy forevermore awaits us on the other side, dear one. Set your mind
on things above by the help of the Holy Spirit. Let the spiritual
weapons of praise and thanksgiving be your spiritual fuel to KEEP your mind
there when life is at its worse. And never forget to ask other believers
for prayer. It's sometimes the hardest thing to do ... but it too is God's
directive for us when we're going through intense trials.
Joy forevermore awaits us on the other side, dear one. Set your mind on things above by the help of the Holy Spirit. Let the spiritual weapons of praise and thanksgiving be your spiritual fuel to KEEP your mind there when life is at its worse. And never forget to ask other believers for prayer. It's sometimes the hardest thing to do ... but it too is God's directive for us when we're going through intense trials.
I’ve had two critical times in my walk with Jesus Christ that I ... 100% ... wanted out of my race. I wanted to go to heaven because the pain was too intense, I felt, to keep enduring. To maybe encourage someone to endure a trial they may be going through at this time, I’m going to share my last experience with quitting.
It was Memorial Day weekend, 2014. Leading up to that weekend, I had been dealing with lumbar back pain for nearly 48 years, going all the way back to the military. Around 2004, the back pain began to severely mess with my feet: Numbness, etc. Sleeping became near impossible. To get any sleep from what seemed like a knife stuck in my lower back that twisted all through the night, I’ve taken far too many sleep/pain meds that I won’t bore you with here, other than to say the pain/sleep meds caused heart issues, cholesterol issues, and borderline diabetes. To say that it put a major crimp in outdoor activities/hobbies is a minor point. Driving very far also hindered me.
In early April of 2014 a late winter snowstorm dumped a good foot of snow in our driveway. In getting my 600 – 700 pound snow blower out of my shed again … dealing with severe sleep depravation from previous nights of little sleep … I forget there was coming an instant four inch drop from the edge of my shed to the ground. With my arms fully extended and leaning backwards, I horsed the snow blower out of the shed with it not started. The snow blower dropped instantly those four inches from shed to ground, and it severely wrenched my right upper shoulder and that side of my neck. The pain was instantly so intense that it felt like I had got blasted with a lightning bolt. Standing there in shock and awe … I waited for whatever next would come. I expected to pass out due to the intense pain.
The pain subsided some, and I realized I wasn’t going to pass out, so I went into the house and laid down for the rest of the day.
Three weeks passed and the neck wasn’t healing. Rather, it was slowly growing worse. With back problems keeping me from sleeping and NOW a neck hurting so bad I couldn’t’ sleep, my wife and my dear daughter Shawna convinced me to go to emergency to get an MRI to see if maybe I had cracked one or more vertebrae, and was dealing with something much more serious than just strained ligaments/muscles.
Let me pass along a warning. NEVER go to an emergency room at a hospital of any size on the Friday night of Memorial Day weekend unless you absolutely have to. Especially when the weather forecasters say it will be the warmest weekend so far that year, which was my case. I can’t prove it, but I think about every doctor that was supposed to be at that emergency ward called in sick that night and all that was left to attend to people like me were “up and comer assistances.” First off, I’ll bet I told my story to at least 10 young women, and not one of them evidently had the time or cared to tell anyone else what I was in there for: To get an MRI. (I found out later that when dealing with patients in emergency on very busy nights, if you aren’t bleeding profusely, you might possibly get put back to the end of line before someone will help you, though it depends on many variables I realize).
My neck pain got a bit more challenging for me than getting a mere MRI. They discovered I had heart issues as well, which I was in total denial to for the most part because the pain in my neck and head had been so intense, and they were far more concerned with me dying from having a stoke or a heart attack than having to have any possible neck surgery.
I checked in around 5 p.m. on Friday evening. Around 7 p.m. they found a bed for me and stuck an IV in my arm. By midnight they still wern't sure what was causing my heart to be out of whack, so they couldn’t give me anything for it. Around 10 P.M., I told everyone I could tell that I could not lay in the bed much longer on my back, because my legs were beginning to grow cold and numb. I told them I hadn’t slept on my back for years, but only on my sides. Otherwise I’d go numb from the waist down, not to mention the pain I felt before numbness sat in. Their response: “We can’t let you lay on your sides with the IV. It’s too dangerous.”
Rather than do more serious damage to my back than what I already had, I got out of the bed by myself just to regain some circulation in my legs. Each time I did that, I nearly fainted from light headedness due to the heart not functioning properly. The hospital staff greatly upset at me for not staying in bed, but I was too the point where I could maybe get in one good swing if anyone tried to forcefully put me back into the bed until I was READY.
Somewhere around 1 a.m. early Saturday morning, they still couldn’t promise me an MRI. I demanded to see a head nurse, (if they had one - I'm being cynical now, but I had my strong doubts at the time). A nurse eventually came in and asked what my problem was, and I told her that if she couldn’t give me anything definite about getting an MRI, I was either going to call 911 and ask for a policeman to come and get me and take me to another hospital that COULD promise me an MRI … or if that fell through then I was going to crawl out of that emergency ward if I had to and CRAWL to the next hospital, and I meant it.
Around 2 a.m. they wheeled me in for an MRI. “We’ll get a read out on it as soon as a qualified doctor to read the MRI results comes in at 8:30 a.m. Meanwhile, just try to relax and get a little sleep.”
If ONLY sleep was possible! The pain in my lower back took more of a toll on my nerves. To make matters worse, my lower stomach began to swell accompanied by acute pain. I kept complaining about it but it seemed that many of the nurses popping in and out couldn’t be concerned. Maybe they thought I was exaggerating matters. Somewhere around 4 a.m. someone wised up and realized my bladder had completely shut down. Thus I got to experience my first catherization. (As a sidebar, it was an oriental nurse who spoke broken English who did the catherization. I asked her if emergency medical care was as bad in her homeland as it is at this hospital. Her sharp reply: “We don’t have emergency care from where I was raised!”)
She had me in a vulnerable spot (privates) so I thought it was best to say no more.
Because they wanted to get true readings on my heart, they did not want to give any heavy pain nor sleep medication; only a mild muscle relaxant, which did little good as far as I could tell. Yet somewhere around 5 a.m. I believe a young nurse had compassion on me and asked me if I would like a small dose of morphine for my pain. I told her I might be alergic to opiates as far as I knew, although I had never had morphine before. I assumed from that she wasn’t going to give me any, but after several days with talking to others, they felt what I experienced was an adverse reaction to morphine.
Shortly after that conversation with the nurse, I did what I felt I needed to do, which was turn over on my ride side to try to get my legs un-numb. (I found out later after daybreak I twisted the IV needle going into my vein when I turned over on my side, and I was very lucky I didn’t do severe damage to that arm. Oh well … thank you Jesus!).
On my side, I began to totally focus on constant praise and giving Him thanks, hoping God would have mercy on me to lesson my pain or allow me to drop off to sleep so I wasn’t so aware of it. I engaged myself intensely in worship for at least a half hour. THEN I began to experience a putrid smell entering my nostrils and mouth with every breath of air I was taking in. The only thing I can think of to describe how putrid the smell was … it was like I had been tossed into a 1,000 old open sewer pit about a mile below ground. The smell became so bad I could even TASTE it.
After a few minutes of that hell, I had had it. I began to cry out to the Lord, “Take me home, Lord! I can’t take this hell anymore! Take me away from this pain and hell and take me to heaven, please!” Over and over I kept asking ... actually BEGGING and PLEADING ... yet feeling as though I wasn’t being heard. That’s one of those moments "when your leg has given out and God is asking you to crawl to the finish line," some imagined bazillion miles away.
Dealing with that mind battle with God I’d never wish on anyone … instantly I was standing like in a football stadium. It was a flash – not a bright flash – but a clear instantaneous image in my mind of standing on some football field. I didn’t have football gear on, so it was a mystery to me why I was standing there. Instantly I looked up above the stands of the stadium, and I saw myriads of angels all motioning with their left hands, yelling: "Don’t quit Norm! Don’t give up! Keep running! Run to the goal line!" They kept repeating this in unison over and over.
Then I lowered my head and saw the same thing in the stadium stands. There were multitudes of people all waving with their left hands as well, motioning me to keep running and not stop -- to not give up. They were shouting the same things as the angels, and it total unity with the angels of waving their left hands and arms ... pointing me to the right direction to make the "touchdown."
Then I looked out to the bench in front of me on ground level. I assumed it was a coach I was looking at, but then realized it was Jesus. He was several yards away from me so I couldn’t tell you what any of his facial features looked like. His clothing was white and shining, though not brilliantly. Jesus was doing the same thing as the angels and the “great cloud of witnesses” in the stands. Yet He was shouting louder than all of them: “Don’t quit, Norm! Keep running! Don’t stop! Don’t give up! Get to the goal line!” Over and over He kept shouting this.
Yet I’m still stymied in my mind.
I have no football in my hands.
I have no football gear on.
I have no mean ugly opponent guys trying to rip my head off.
I couldn’t figure out the point of it all … UNTIL suddenly the putrid
smell instantly went away! Awwwwhhhh
how wonderful it was to breath normal fresh air again.
And then the light bulb when on.
It wasn’t time for my race to be over.
I was still to stay in the race of this life until I crossed my finish
line, and God would determine when that was to be, not me. In one
sense it was a huge letdown, yet in another sense, I realized I was most likely
being consumed with selfishness due to my pain. Intense pain can do that
to a person, can't it?
In one sense it was a huge letdown, yet in another sense, I realized I was most likely being consumed with selfishness due to my pain. Intense pain can do that to a person, can't it?
[Not that it matters – they were finally able to get a readout on the MRI early Saturday afternoon. They found no cracked vertebras. Some bone spur stuff and some intensified arthritis, which still remains as of this writing. Several days later, the Holy Spirit revealed to me the reason why my heart was messed up. It was due to the withdrawals from the sleeping pill Ambien. Wonderful to sleep by: wicked once you get off after you’ve been on it awhile if you're vulnerable to rebound insomnia like I am - until the Ambien gets sufficiently out of your system and your mind can reset, which can take many days for some, as it does me. I've come to realize I am greatly vulnerable to the side affects of rebound insomnia].
I learned a long time ago my race to glory is to help snatch as many lost souls from hell as God wills to use me to help accomplish that task ... and perhaps help bring a little comfort and encouragement to others with writings or videos like this from time to time to help my fellow soldiers in Christ stay in the battle. I am not my own ... I have to constantly keep reminding myself. I am a willing soldier to what my Master desires of me, but solely through His strength -- certainly not mine. He's a trusted coach to keep me motivated until I've crossed my finish line.
So dear one ... keep running your race. Don't quit. Don't let your frustration and anger and impatience with God remain long. Keep asking and trusting Jesus for more overcoming - sustaining - grace to get you to YOUR finish line. You will be rewarded for doing so throughout eternity which none of us can fully imagine, let alone comprehend, on this side ... as we each run and crawl if necessary to cross the finish line of life God had/has planned for us from the foundation of the world:
For eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor can it be presently comprehended ... what Jesus Christ has prepared for those who love Him.
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