I went for a run yesterday morning. The sky was clear, the air crisp, the day promising. I set out on an old familiar course, a looping path I often take. I felt good until I rounded the last turn and saw the final mile stretch out before me. I felt the wind blow hard against my face. I resented it. I battled it. I struggled and pushed through that last mile, relieved when I finally reached the finish.
I set out again this morning for that same familiar path. It was another glorious day, and feeling all the wiser after yesterday's struggle, I reversed my regular course, thinking I'd tackle the long stretch first, thinking the wind would push me along, thinking it had to be easier. But from the first few strides I struggled. My joints were achey, my muscles sore, and my mind was a jumbled mess. I didn't feel the wind helping me along, I felt my ankles locking and my heart hurting. And then I rounded that turn, only to realize my familiar course didn't seem so familiar after all. I never noticed the way those winding turns all have a slightly downward slope. Only this time I was fighting an uphill battle. And I was losing. When things go your way, you don't realize that you're coasting down easy hills, taking His provisions for granted. You don't realize that the other side of the street has always been shaded until you have sun and sweat burning your eyes.
It's supposed to get easier.
Like training for a marathon: each day gets a little easier, you're a little lighter on your feet, your gait becomes more natural, your stamina increases. Except when it doesn't. I struggled through my run and I caught myself wrestling with God. Instead of His beloved bride, I morphed into a bitter, nagging wife, bending His ear and hurling accusations. "I cooked dinner! Can't you at least do the dishes?!" What was relational became contractual in my limited mind. "I'm holding up my end of the deal, God! When does it get easier?! WHEN are you going to SHOW UP and make everything BETTER?!" I was drowning in my sinfulness, clinging to my self-righteousness like a flotation device, failing to realize it was a weight pulling me down even deeper. But grace abounds.
He doesn't see me for my faults and my failures. He doesn't see a nagging wife, He sees His blushing bride. Sanctified, a new creation entirely, wearing the veil of righteousness of His perfect son. Your Maker is your Husband. (Isaiah 54:5)
YOUR MAKER is YOUR HUSBAND!
He created the entire universe and He cares for me. He holds eternity in one hand and my hand in the other. (Isaiah 41:13) On my own I am stubborn and indignant. In His sight, I am blameless. (Colossians 1:22) No matter how many times I fail Him, no matter how many times I turn or push Him away, He never gives up on me. He pursues me relentlessly. He reminds me who I am.
So I'm realizing that sometimes it doesn't necessarily get easier. I can't say He didn't warn me. "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33) There's peace in knowing I will never have to figure it out on my own.