Sunday, October 17, 2010

First Annual Run For New Life 5K - a divine puzzle

I've been so busy lately that I've finally gotten the chance to sit down and write about what culminated in my life to be a rather exciting event. The planning for it felt much like a wedding, with so many small details to be looked over. The day it arrived was much like the same type of celebration and then it was over. Those close to me know I'm referring to my first endeavor as a race director. This blog is about the First Annual "Run For New Life 5K" which was held on October 2nd. It was an incredible success with over 170 participants. So much went into the orchestration of this event; two years of life, tears, and planning. And then it was over. I asked myself, "Now what?" The answer:  Remember! Remember what the Lord did. I believe this is really the purpose for keeping a journal, even an on-line one, in the Christian faith. It is designed to testify and help us remember. The Lord knows we have a tendency to forget if we don't and your enemy will try to take it back. So this is my attempt to summarize the amazing tapestry of this event as the Lord took individual lives, heartaches, struggles, and faith and wove them together into something beautiful.
In one of his most famous lines, Forest Gump prophetically stated, "Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get."  Well, Forest, I'm here to tell you that God's plan is far more organized than that (and hopeful...since I really don't like the strawberry cream ones) and he sees it much more like a huge jig-saw puzzle. The catch is, only the Lord has the benefit of seeing the top of the box revealing the masterpiece that is created when all the pieces are laid down just right. In showing me this vision, I believe I gained a small insight into what the "Lord's will" looks like as it pertains to human choice.

To make this clearer, I'm going to dump out the pieces and start laying them down one at a time.

1. Leanne- My friend Leanne lost her daughter Maitlyn at 19 weeks gestation. Leanne taught me that faith can move mountains. The mountains are events in life that otherwise would become huge obstacles to us in our walk with God and believing what he says is true. Having a child die is a mountain. Leanne chose to believe God. She committed to run 19 races in 2009 in honor of Maitlyn's life here on Earth. In the process she showed countless others that they can keep running in faith too.
2. Lindsey- My friend Lindsey lost her daughter Gabrielle at 22 weeks pregnancy, the week before Christmas. Lindsey and her husband, Sean believed God. They committed at her birth that Gabrielle's life would be about why God sent his Son as a baby to Earth to ultimately die; several people came to salvation at Gabrielle's memorial service. How many of us can say without a doubt that we personally have brought people to Christ? Lindsey showed that all created life is here for a divine purpose and God won't take us home until that is accomplished.

3. Lauren-My friend Lauren discovered that her unborn son Jonathon had a chromosomal abnormality that would not be compatible with life. In a world that encouraged her to terminate his life and negate his purpose, Lauren believed God. She created a blog entitled Jonathon's Journey which honestly revealed the struggles that all of us go through in our faith, especially when the road is hard. Lauren's openness as she poured out her heart to God showed the rest of us it is okay to do the same. Her story was featured in the Northwest FL Daily News.  The day Jonathon was born her blog had thousands of hits to it, revealing that her faith walk along Jonathon's journey was more than healing to Lauren; it was healing for all of us. Lauren showed us all that our faith although intimate is not meant to stay private; it needs to be shared to fulfill God's fully intended purpose.

How do these women and the piece of the puzzle that they hold fit together? You see, at any point they could have chosen not believe God. God's perfect will is the picture on the top of the jig saw puzzle box lid when all the pieces fit just right. If we choose not to cooperate with his will, then pieces are missing or have to be left out.  But by believing him in faith, they allowed him to use their circumstances and create something with new life. Individually one could say they are stories of heartache. But together, when laid down side by side, inter-connected and fastened together with God's hand, they created a picture of the  mighty display of God's splendor for all to see.  God is the re-builder. He takes broken and shattered lives and rebuilds them for his glory. We have the choice any time to believe him or not.  His word says, "I know the plans I have for you; plans to prosper you and not to harm you but to give you a hope and future." Jer 29:11. I know in the moment each of these women had the choice as to whether to believe God; they were challenged to believe whether losing a child could produce hope. I can say this because I stood there right beside them.  However ,when you die to self and surrender to the risen Christ, he will bring you  back to life in a new way. Just like the acorn planted in the ground turns into a mighty oak, so the lives of these women and their children turned into an amazing testimony of hope. God promised these women in Isaiah 61...
"to bestow on them a crown of beauty
       instead of ashes,
       the oil of gladness
       instead of mourning,
       and a garment of praise
       instead of a spirit of despair.
       They will be called oaks of righteousness,
       a planting of the LORD
       for the display of his splendor."
I saw this come to fruition at the Run for New Life. Honestly, it took my breath away.

God laid down several other pieces for our first race. One was the inclusion of national Christian music artist Heather Williams. I had never envisioned that would be part of the puzzle, but God exceeded our imaginations. (Ephesians 3:20) Heather performed her single, "Hallelujah" written as a prayer after the death of her own son and I would say the song became our anthem for this year's race. God revealed her participation was both for us and for her and thankfully used me to speak that into her.

The finished picture was something like this....

The take home message of this particular blog is this: take heart, that when all you can see is a bunch of shattered pieces, God is at work. If you allow him, he will create something amazing. "And we know in all things God works for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28. That is so much more hopeful than searching for the caramel in a box of unlabeled chocolates!


  1. I loved this post, really hit home for more than most know why. I love the picture on the tshirt. The Oak tree plays such a significant role in our story of ayla. Isaiah 61:3 -She is our oak of Righteousness-a planting of the be used as a "display of his splendor"...thanks for this!

  2. I am not even sure where to start.....I am truly speechless.
    Bare with me on this as I try to think between sniffles and tears. This has truly touched my heart. Clearly Jen, you are gifted with the ability to hear the Lord and with the ability to follow His plan.
    The puzzle is the perfect analogy to explain the trials we all face. I am so grateful that my puzzle had a piece for you, for Leanne, and for Lauren, in it. My sisters in Christ, I love you.

  3. What a great message! Thank you for sharing, and I hope to make it out there next year!

  4. I just stumbled on this blog as a runner looking to run that meant something to me, and was excited to stumble upon this! Congratulations on finishing up your first race! Where was it held at? I would love to run it if it's anywhere near family or friends.

  5. wow i would to join one of the races thank you for everything you have done for us:) your the best