Running on Empty

Running has never been my strong suit, but to graduate with a 4.0 GPA, I needed to
finish strong in a final PE class and run a set distance under a certain time. Half way
through the run, I was fading fast. Feeling discouraged and defeated, I had a sudden
flash of inspiration: I remembered a Bible verse I had learned in our youth group,
Philippians 4:13. “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.” I repeated
this to myself over and over as I found that second wind and finished in my personal
best time!
Then, life goes on and problems get bigger and more complicated than an A in a high
school PE class. Broken promises, broken hearts. Death, disease, heartache. I coped
by doing, by working, by giving. Running, running, running. My new mantra was no
longer centered on what Christ could do, but on what I thought I should be doing: “My
faith should be evident by my works, right?  I know, salvation is not earned, it is given,
but I have to do the works!  Shine my light!  You know, God, I can’t be hiding under a
bushel!  So, let me have that strength so I can do ALL. THE. THINGS.”
Despite all the “good work” I was doing, I felt empty and unsettled. My tank was so
empty. All of my running, my good works, they weren’t helping me navigate this race of
life. But Jesus, in His wisdom, is teaching me a better way. Now, when I’m tempted to
work myself into the ground dealing with life’s problems, I remember these two words:
grace and contentment.
Grace:  Defined as unmerited favor, or in other words, undeserved kindness.  Smiling
and being kind to the rude store clerk = grace.  Hugging your husband and offering a
kind word when he comes home grumpy from work (and your day hasn’t been so easy
either) = grace.  Helping that co-worker who hurt your feelings last week = grace.  We
all face situations where someone “deserves” less than our kind favor. But Jesus died
for you and me while we were still sinners.  While we mocked and cursed him.  If God
can give us that kind of grace, surely, we should pass that along to others. When we
stop to remember how undeserving we are of kindness and favor from God, it makes it
easier to show grace to others.
Contentment:  In the original language “things” can also be translated as “this,” so
putting Philippians 4: 12 and 4:13 together changed things in a beautiful way for me: “I
know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the
secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether
living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through Christ, who strengthens me.” It is no
longer about doing all the things, it is about finding contentment in Jesus in all
Friends, when life gets hard, remember that Jesus is all we ever truly need.  He fulfills
our every desire.  He lavishes His love and peace on us when we seek Him.  He doesn’t
need our works, but He is full of grace (undeserved kindness) toward us, and because
of that, we can always be grateful and content!  I am still learning to rest in Jesus, but by

His help, we can learn to be content no matter what, and we can Him in all
circumstances, because He is good.  All. The. Time.
Father, thank you for teaching me how to be content in all of life’s hard places. You
have given me grace in abundance, and I know that I can find rest in you. Help me run
this race in a way that draws me closer to you and brings you glory. Amen.

In His Love,

Dr. Allison Key