I knew I would know when I saw it. Ya’ know?
First, the waiting.
I was waiting to find just the right picture for my living room, and I didn’t know what I wanted…but I knew it would all make sense when the right thing finally presented itself.
The other evening when meandering through a home goods department I saw it, and I knew.
When I triumphantly called my family together to help hang it in place, pure joy followed! It was exactly what I wanted! (Even though I hadn’t had any idea what I “wanted.”)
In the waiting, the blank wall annoyed me.
Look. When I took pictures of the room to show friends and family what the room looked like for our first Christmas in our new home, I even lowered the camera to try to minimize or hide the blank space above it.
(How many times, by the way, do we try to veer everyone else's line of sight away from our imperfections or the things we feel we lack? It's like we say, "Here! Look at the rest of the pretty things! Please just don't notice what's missing!")
No matter what others said about the room, I knew it needed more. I wasn't content. I just didn't know what exactly it was supposed to be, and it annoyed me every time I looked that way.
Every. Single. Time.
Ever feel that way in life?
I tried to imagine things that would work, but no matter how many ideas I played with in my mind, nothing fit. I kept waiting for the right thing to present itself, hoping I wouldn't have to stare at a blank wall forever.
Waiting isn’t easy, but I have good news!
Isaiah 30:18 says,
“Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!”
If you’re waiting on God for justice, hang in there! If you’re waiting on him to show you compassion or be gracious to you, hang in there! When the timing is right, you’ll know, and you’ll be so glad you waited!
Also, the running.
A friend asked me how I knew this particular item was the one for my wall.
First, I provided some easy immediate answers:
1. It passed the test of correct size/shape I knew I wanted.
2. The colors worked perfectly for what I was going for.
3. Slowly but surely, I'm transitioning my decor in this alpine chalet to "Modern Rustic," and horses combined with clean lines definitely fit that bill.
And a more specific reason:
4. The eyes of the horses and the intensity on their faces gripped me upon first glance.
Like, I couldn't stop staring into them, and, yes, it was a little weird.
And the big one.
The one that flashed across my mind and heart the moment I saw the picture. The one with a biblical emphasis that that triggered my sense of the Holy Spirit's leadership all hit me at once...because my brain isn't that big, but the Holy Spirit is, and God tends to use His Word to make a point. [Insert one gigantic wink.]
5. I immediately thought of Jeremiah 12:5 which says,
"If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?"
This reminded me of a women's conference message I heard a few years back in which someone referenced a Eugene Peterson book called Run With Horses: The Quest for Life at its Best. While I hadn't even read the book (yet), the point brought out in the sermon I heard coupled with my understanding of that passage from regular study said everything I needed to know...
Let's look at God's Word together.
Jeremiah's ministry began, as it does for many of us, with a Call that confronted his insecurities. In his case, he felt too young and did not know how to speak.
“Alas, Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young" (Jeremiah 1:6).
How was he to speak to men older and more learned and skilled than he?
Not long into his ministry, Jeremiah realized the older and learned were not so mature and did not follow their own teachings. Hmm...I've found that to be true a time or two (or more) myself.
By chapter 2, he was calling them out for forsaking God. Jeremiah, a mere youth himself, called Israel to "remember the devotion of their youth" (verse 2, emphasis mine).
His prophetic ministry continued to uncover layer upon layer of corruption in the people he may have once admired and whom others certainly admired. By chapter 12 he was worn out from contending with purportedly pious people.
Who could blame him? That's exhausting!
He felt ready to throw in the towel despite God's encouragement to him early on not to fear in his obedient proclamation, that he would be fortified by God to stand up against the disobedient, and that though they would fight against him, they would not overcome in the end because God would be with him and would rescue him.
Check it out:
“Get yourself ready! Stand up and say to them whatever I command you. Do not be terrified by them, or I will terrify you before them.18 Today I have made you a fortified city, an iron pillar and a bronze wall to stand against the whole land—against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests and the people of the land.19 They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord" (Jeremiah 1:17–19).
Jeremiah 12:1 begins with Jeremiah's complaint which goes something along the lines of, "God, you say you're just, but what in the world?!? They're so wicked!!"
In short, I've been there.
I, too, (like many) have wondered why the wicked seem to prosper and the faithless seem to live at ease (12:1). I, too (like many ministers) have faithfully proclaimed God's word only to have "purportedly pious people" prove themselves remarkably immature and unfaithful to their own teachings (hypocritical).
Many of us know how nasty supposedly "godly" (but not actually godly) people can be as they desperately attempt to maintain control by digging their own cisterns (2:13); deny their sin (2:35); cling to immorality and idolatry (3:6–13); stubbornly refuse correction in their backsliding (3:18, 22); and I could keep going...
Yes, such people once loved God but now deceive themselves and despise anyone who the Lord sends to test their hearts and the genuineness of their cordial front.
This one really gets me:
"Their tongue is a deadly arrow; it speaks deceitfully. With their mouths they all speak cordially to their neighbors, but in their hearts they set traps for them" (Jeremiah 9:8).
Yep. I've seen that too.
The reputation of such people does not match what God sees, and the minister who peels back the covers of corruption can find him or herself exhausted with disillusionment if not careful.
So why does God draw Jeremiah to that place at all? And why would he do that for any other minister?
The answer is most definitely not that the once insecure minister who attempted to serve from a place of integrity would be destroyed by those more crafty and cunning (with some bones in their closet too), but that God would exercise his or her spiritual muscles for a greater task.
However uncomfortable one situation felt (what was supposed to be "safe country" 12:5), God needed His servant prepared to move on to the "thickets by the Jordan" (12:5). In such a scenario, Jeremiah or [fill in the blank of the ones God calls] would need much thicker skin, fortitude, and resolve.
Many of us could easily say, "No thanks! Why would I ever expect to run with horses anyway? I'll take an easier route and stay out of the thickets, thank you very much."
However, as Eugene Peterson makes the case in his book, God has more for his people!
Our best life is always to live the life God has for us, and that means faith, adventure, and getting to partner with God to do more than we could or would ever do on our own––including work our way through the thickets with Him! We get to be where He is doing what He does and get to share with Him in the reward of His accomplishments!
That, to me, is running with horses.
The intensity in the eyes of the horses and the flex of their muscles should mirror my own, just as it would for the many Giants who have also partnered with Him to bring Him glory and advance His kingdom.
Romans 12:1–3 says,
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."
No growing weary and losing heart here! Too much is at stake! Too many people need Jesus!
Finally, I have one last reason I knew the picture for which I had waited six months was the one.
6. I hope that every time I see those horses, hung right at eye level so I cannot get away from their eyes, I will be reminded of all this which flashed across my heart and mind in a moment when I first laid eyes upon them and that I, too, am being prepared and strengthened to "run with horses." Because that's what Giants do. To God be the glory!