Ever thought about your spiritual gifts? Many Christians might overlook spiritual gifts God has given us individually and refer more to them as a hobby, talent, or passion. Any talent or passion that God has given you was ordained in advance by Him and He wants you to use it to further His kingdom.
I am almost 30, and have been running since before high school. I’ve never been competitive or considered an elite athlete, I just enjoy running (or should I say jogging). Little did I know that God was grooming me for His work, even before becoming a Christian at the age of 28. After trying to chase after spiritual gifts/ministry opportunities that other people have been blessed with such as working with children, teaching, etc., the Holy Spirit has been telling me that maybe my passion for running can be used for God’s work. (It’s not that I don’t enjoy teaching or working with children, it’s just that I do not feel particularly gifted in these areas – but one thing I am learning is that God can change our desires to line up with His through obedience and experience).
God has also laid a burden on my heart for orphans. I began to see last year how I could combine my passion for running and desire to serve orphans and prayed about what God would have me do. The Holy Spirit spoke to me through everyday life experiences/circumstances and led me to run the Kentucky Derby Marathon while raising money for orphans. Actually it was an article published in the Southeast Outlook about Wesley Korir that helped confirm that God was asking me to run the marathon. Wesley Korir is a U of L student, marathon runner, and committed Christian determined to use his God given running talent to bring glory to God and serve needy children in his home country of Africa. He inspired me to begin to trust God more completely. I had run mini marathons in the past prior to becoming a Christian, but the thought of running a marathon terrified me. I knew I couldn’t run a marathon in my own strength and needed to depend on the Lord daily to give me motivation, strength, and discipline. I began to view my running time not as exercise or training, but rather my personal time with Jesus Christ. I didn’t agonize over the long-term requirement of running a 26.2 mile marathon, but rather each day I would ask the Lord to give me the strength to make it through each individual run. I did not run with a group or running coach; God was my personal trainer. Through this challenge, I finally realized that my strength comes from Him alone and that whatever He asks of me, as long as I depend on Him, He will carry me. One of the verses I memorized and recited while running was Isaiah 40:31 “but those who HOPE in the LORD will RENEW their STRENGTH. They will SOAR on WINGS like eagles; they will RUN and NOT GROW WEARY, they will WALK and NOT BE FAINT.”
While all of this was happening, I had also been linked up with Orphan Care Alliance (OCA – formerly known as Louisville Orphan Care Initiative or LOCI) after attending an adoption seminar at Southeast Christian Church which OCA organized. I began praying about how God could use me to serve this organization and ultimately orphans. I live in Brandenburg, KY, which made it difficult to commit to weekly mentoring or other serving opportunities in the Louisville area, but gradually in His time, he led me to get involved with the fundraising team for Orphan Care Alliance (OCA), and I discovered they were working on becoming an official charity of the Derby Festival Marathon 2011 event. Finally it clicked that God was asking me to take something that was already a part of my life and use it to serve Him. I know I am supposed to run for OCA this year and that God has finely orchestrated the events of my life which has led me to where I am right now writing this message.
I am telling you all of this to encourage those who might already be runners and wish to use their running for a Higher Purpose. If God has already made you a runner, pray about how He wants you to use running to glorify Him and He will show you. Perhaps God has placed a burden on your heart for orphans too, but you’re not sure how to get involved. Let this be the year that you begin to defend their cause, in whatever way He lays on your heart. You don’t have to adopt to defend the fatherless. Or maybe you know a friend or family member who feels called to serve orphans in some way. Maybe you know someone who wants to run a mini-marathon or full marathon and would be interested in running for a charity – mention OCA to them. Maybe you are not a runner, but maybe you have felt the Holy Spirit asking you to just get in shape, perhaps run or walk a mini marathon or marathon – don’t allow the enemy to tell you that you can’t. Tell yourself “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). This year, don’t depend on yourself for your fitness goals, rely on the Holy Spirit daily for your mental, physical, and spiritual strength and I promise you will achieve victory in Him.
OCA has a goal to recruit 100 runners or walkers to join their team and participate in the Kentucky Derby Festival miniMarathon/Marathon event. It is OCA’s goal that each team member be dedicated to raising at least $100 giving OCA a $10,000 fundraising goal for this event. I know there are runners, adoptive parents, friends, and family out there that would be excited to help OCA achieve this goal. Please pray for this organization and those who join OCA’s team and if you would like to participate in some way, go to http://www.active.com/donate/orphan_care_alliance. You can register to run/walk for OCA or make a monetary contribution. To find out more about what OCA is doing around the Kentuckiana area and how you can help, please go to their website at http://www.orphancarealliance.org/ or check them out on Facebook.
God has a heart for the orphan which means we are called to do something. I close with Romans 12:1 “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-this is your spiritual act of worship” and Psalms 82:3 “Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.” Let running/walking for the fatherless be your spiritual act of worship.