Reflections From The Treadmill #8

by Karen Pullano
This is my last lenten post on suffering. Thank you for journeying along with me and I hope you have been encouraged. Stay tuned for more Wisdom from the treadmill! Is there a 5k in my near future perhaps?
CrossTreadmill
Pruning

After six weeks of running on the treadmill it seems that I have a knee ‘issue.’ I’m not sure if it’s officially an injury, but what started as screaming rebellion from many of my joints has now settled into nagging, persistent pain and swelling solely in my right knee. I am trying to get in better shape here, not worse, so it is a little disappointing to have to baby it all the time, but strangely, I am ok with it. As annoying as it is, I feel like it was a necessary price to pay to get myself moving. I wasn’t moving otherwise, so I clearly needed to take drastic measures. I can live with the knee pain if it means far more important gains.

I think God allows and uses our trials and sufferings to prune us if we allow Him to. What feels like a casualty or loss is often necessary in order for new growth to happen. Our sufferings turn us more fully to our need for Him, which is always a far greater good than anything we can suffer here. I don’t exactly like this physical change with my knee but I do like the newfound stamina, muscle tone, and endurance I have gained. Spiritually, we can Trust the Lord to prune us in such a way that we are thankful for the new creations we can and will become, but it takes obedience and acceptance first. If we continue to cry over what we think we have lost, we are in danger of missing the fruit God is trying to grow in us.

I look to my own life, at the loss of my 4 year-old son, and I could question all day long why God let that happen. I remember vividly one particular moment during his illness. I was hiding in my bathroom for some private crying time and, looking back, I can clearly see that I had no acceptance in my heart whatsoever. I was desperately begging God to just let Mikey live and then I would change myself and my life in a million awesome ways. A week or so later, when we got some hopeful news, the first thought that popped into my head was, “Thank God, let’s get back to our regular life.” I hadn’t actually accepted that changes were necessary and good, rather I was focused solely on the outcome I desired. I guess if that weren’t human nature, we would never need pruning. It is only the result of our tremendous freedom and the choices we have made throughout human history that we experience suffering. It is never God’s will. On the contrary, I know the heart of Jesus was broken right along with mine when my son died. Jesus wept with me. His Mother was my constant companion. They both taught me what they knew from experience. All things are being made new.

He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. (John 15:2)
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Reflections from the Treadmill #2

By Karen Pullano

If you missed the first installment click here CrossTreadmill

Love Gives meaning to Suffering

If you have ever run a 5K for a worthy cause then you will easily understand what I mean here. There are lots of organized runs for wonderful causes out there and they are generally intended to raise money and awareness for a particular organization or charitable cause. Forget about the financial aspect for a minute and ask yourself this: how did running or walking in that race do anything for the cause? Why did you do it? Why did they want you to do it?
The answer is quickly obvious. By lending your support, encouragement, and strength, and standing with many in solidarity, you strengthen the cause, right? You get behind something you believe in and are willing to sacrifice in order to do it. It is a demonstration of Love and good.Maybe there is training involved that has taken dedication and perseverance. Think about what got you to that 5K. If it was dedication to a cause, then you know exactly what it is to offer up suffering for Love.

So too, we can make an offering of our suffering for God’s “cause.” I love Him so infinitely that I could never suffer or sacrifice enough for Him. I have only to look at the cross and be reminded of the scourging, the thorns, and the garden, and I know that what I’m going through is only a shadow of what Christ did out of Love. The more I Love Him, the more meaning my suffering takes on.

I further proved this to myself the other day when I was praying for someone so dear to me that I would give my life for them. I set a grueling goal on the treadmill as a prayer offering (okay it was only 2 miles, but I felt I needed some added drama here). As expected, about halfway through, I thought I was done for, but no amount of pain could have kept me from offering up that effort for this person that I love. Like running in solidarity at a 5K, when we offer prayer together with sacrifice it carries more weight. It’s like saying to God, this is so important to me that I am willing to follow your lead and suffer for this cause. We unite ourselves to the cross, which is the supreme act of Love.
I was amazed at my own determination and ability to push myself to my limits. My deep and intense love motivated me like nothing else could have.

When we learn to love God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, more deeply, our burden is lightened. That Love is truly the Yoke Jesus asks us to take.

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Mt 11:28-30)

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And Ladies, it’s not too late to RSVP for the food and faith event in Syracuse.  It promises to be a night full of inspiration and camaraderie! Join us.March3rd Food and Faith copy