Can God use us even when we do not desire to be used? Yes!
Hey everyone, Mitchell Hollis here with Run for God. Run for God recently hosted it’s 9thannual Run for God – Run at the Mill 5K, 10K, and Half Marathon. This is our oldest running race and it’s also my favorite. The different distances always brings out many levels of runners. And it seems that the spring weather is always perfect.
As with any of our races, I like to start the day with a challenge to our participants. My routine has always been to finish setting up on Friday and then find some time to sit down, pray, and formulate my challenge into a 2-3 minute talk which I deliver on race morning as we are giving the final race instructions, praying, and paying our respects to the stars and stripes while the National Anthem is sung. I love this time because it’s the only time where everyone in attendance is giving you their undivided attention.
That was the plan once again this year as we approached race day at The Mill. But if you’ve ever been a part of planning an event, especially an outdoor event, things don’t always go as planned. Rain was in the forecast. In the nine years that Run for God has been hosting races, we’ve only had rain during one event, and it actually came and went before the race ever started.
All day Friday I kept checking the forecast hoping something would change. As the day dragged on it not only didn’t get better, but the forecast continued to get worse. I’ll be honest, this did not make me happy. I knew this would put a damper on the day, at least in my eyes. Race day registrations would suffer, people would stay home, and our signature “blue carpet finish line” would not be possible with wet conditions. As we finished a full day on Friday of setup and packet pickup, I was not in the best of moods.
I walked in the door that evening with a bad attitude. I prepared for bed and the early morning and failed to prepare for my golden race day opportunity. The chance to share Jesus with hundreds of people.
I pulled into the race venue the next morning about 5:00AM and sure enough, the rain had already started. It wasn’t heavy, but it was hard enough for us to have to make changes in our plans. No carpet at the finish, cover all electronics, educate runners about staying off the painted lines on the road due to slickness, and hoping the wind would stay calm sparing our finish line arch.
6:30 rolled around and it was time to get everyone ready to start. Ted Gocke, our event MC, began to announce for everyone to gather for the National Anthem, Prayer, and announcements. It was at this moment that I began to have a bit of anxiety. I hadn’t prepared what I was going to say. I had allowed my poor attitude the day before to distract my time of preparation. Now what? Ted began to introduce me like he does every year, and I had nothing. Was this going to be one of those times that you see an individual take the mic only to freeze in front of everyone in attendance?
As I took the mic, it was almost as if a peace came over me. I really don’t know how I started the conversation, but I vividly remember asking the question, “If you leave here today and for whatever reason you don’t make it home. Do you know that you know where you’d spend eternity?” I remember handing the mic off to my pastor to pray and then two ladies sang the National Anthem.
I remember getting the runners off on their races and feeling an overwhelming sense of disappointment that I had not properly prepared for that moment. I didn’t make the time to sit down and put those words into a format that would better resonate with people. Instead, I just got up and said the first thing that popped in my head. I felt like I had failed God and that I had not done my part. Or had I?
Over the next few hours I stayed busy cheering runners on and just making sure that things were running smoothly. In normal Run for God fashion the finish line was electric as that very last runner crossed the finish line. After that we began the award’s ceremony and celebrated runners who placed in their age group. Over all the day ended up great. We did have a big crowd. Yes it rained, but it didn’t dampen the spirit of our awesome runners like I thought it would.
As we were cleaning up I was approached by a man who made me forget about everything that was going on in that moment. George Williams was his name. George began by telling me that he was a 72-year-old elder in his church from Pennsylvania and that this was his second trip south to run this race. But it’s what George said next that immediately had me in awe of what an awesome God we serve. George began to tell me that he had been going through the motions of being a Christ follower for decades. He is an active member in his church, he’s an elder in his church, and he even occupies the pulpit from time to time preaching. He told me when I confronted him with that simple question, “Do You Know? “, he couldn’t deny what God had been telling him for years. That was, that George was relying on his works to get him into heaven instead of a relationship with Jesus Christ.
George finished his race that day at Run at the Mill, but he embarked on the greatest race ever, and that’s finishing this race here on earth in perfect communion with the one who created him. George bowed his head on April 13, 2019 and accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior.
So why do I tell George’s story? Two reasons.
One, God uses us, but He does not need us. In fact, He’ll often use us in spite of ourselves. I had a bad attitude that morning. Nothing seemed to be going right. I was having a party in my own mind and it was a pity party. God prompted me to ask a tough question no matter how I felt about the delivery. God doesn’t need eloquent words. He doesn’t need a three-part sermon. He doesn’t need us period. But He desires fellowship with us, He desires us to be obedient, and He desires for us to point others to Him. That race morning, I wanted my words to have impact. I wanted them to sound great and be packaged nicely with a bow on top. But that’s not what God wanted, and that’s not what George needed. God wanted and George needed the simple question, “Do You Know?”
Second. Billy Graham was right. He often said in his sermons that many people who occupy the church pews today are lost. They’ve relied on their works for so long that they mistake them for a true relationship with Jesus. That’s exactly where the Devil wants us. Do you know that you know where you’ll spend eternity is an uncomfortable question to ask. It’s uncomfortable because it demands an absolute answer that can only come from the depths of a person’s soul. There are two absolute answers to this question. Yes or No. If the answer is I don’t know then categorize that in the No column.
Let’s be very clear about something. The Devil will never make a person who is NOT a child of God doubt their salvation. If you read or hear these tough questions and you have a sinking feeling in the pit of your soul, rest assured that is a spiritual battle being fought between your sinful nature and a Holy God. Jesus is screaming, “Come to Me” while the Devil is saying “You’re Good”.
Ask the tough questions. Ask those around you, “Do you know that you know if you died today where you’d spend eternity?” Ask it just like that. Don’t beat around the bush, sugar coat it, or add spin to it. Ask it as if their life depended on it, because you know what? It Does!
Maybe you are out there and you’ve noticed my shirt. We designed this shirt for one reason. So people will walk up to the person wearing it and ask the question, “Do you know what?” Talk about an opportunity. If you’d like one of these, I’d like to offer you one for half off. Just follow the link below and use the code DOYOUKNOW at checkout.
I hope this story has touched your heart and challenged your life, I know it has mine.
Friends, I love you, but more importantly God Loves You! Now go tell someone about Jesus today.