Running my race . . .


Safe . . . protected under the shelter of God’s wings.

Those were the phrases that surfaced in my mind and the feelings that settled deeply within my soul when I awoke at my parents’ home yesterday morning – a Sabbath morning. Certainly the fact that I was with them and under their watchful care had something to do with the peace that I felt. Even more so, knowing that I was under God’s watchful care and firmly attached to his will and his strength, well this was a great grace for me—to know that I know that I know that all is well with my soul and that I could firmly and forcefully approach the day with certain confidence.

And so we went, Jesus and me together, sowing kingdom seed during the three morning services at Garner UMC. This is a big week for the folks in Garner. Their annual Relay for Life event will take place on Friday night at Lake Benson Park. The community will come out in force, none more so than the community that gathers each Sunday at Garner UMC. Their hearts are passionate about Relay, about this race for life. In a small way, my preaching was to be a rallying cry of sorts—a central meeting point for the saints to begin their intentional steps of pilgrimage toward Friday night’s festivities.

By the time the noon hour rolled around, I had a strong feeling that we had done what we came to do . . . God and me. His call to me to go and preach grace and my obedience therein—a corporate venture toward kingdom multiplication. A call not to solely reflect on my cancer survivorship but, more importantly, to address the issue of my soul survivorship. In doing so, in talking about what it means to survive this life with Jesus as my compass, everyone who made it out to Garner UMC yesterday morning was able to find their place and mark their paces in the survivor’s lap of the most important relay they will ever run—a relay for everlasting life with their everlasting King.

Safe . . . protected under the shelter of God’s wings. There we stood yesterday morning, linking arms for the kingdom cause, and I am undone with the memory of it all, unable to fully reflect in a few words what it meant to me. What it meant to my family—daughter, sons, husband, and father on the front pew, mother in the choir loft. What it meant to the congregants. I just know that it meant something special for all of us, and on this Monday morning, I am exceedingly grateful for yet another undeserved blessing from my Father’s heart and for the privilege of joining him on the front lines of grace.

I leave you with a few words my father wrote to me last evening; forgive me if they seem self-indulgent. Perhaps I’m not writing them for you. Perhaps more so, for my children and for their children for a season yet to come so that they, too, can hold this memory as part of their spiritual heritage and remember a day when Faith Elaine took to the pulpit and rallied the troops in the name of soul-survivorship and exclusively for the name and renown of Jesus Christ her Lord.


It isn’t very often that a preacher gets to sit at the feet of another preacher; especially when that preacher is your daughter. I sat on the front pew this morning—watching, listening, and feeling some very deep and heart-warming ‘moments’, as I heard Elaine preach. Tonight, to reflect or write on what I experienced would be fruitless—some things are too deep, too precious, and too sacred. Silence is often the best response to the ‘deepest of things’. One of these days I might be able to, but not tonight. So, let me offer a prayer instead—a prayer that I keep nearby and use it often. While the author is unknown, it comes out of the 17th Century, entitled, A Nun’s Prayer.

“Lord, thou knowest better than I know myself that I am growing old and will someday be old. Keep me from the fatal habit of thinking I must say something on every subject and on every occasion. Release me from craving to straighten out everybody’s affairs. Make me thoughtful but not moody; helpful but not bossy. With my vast store of wisdom, it seems a pity not to use it all, but thou knowest Lord that I want a few friends at the end.

“Keep my mind free from the recital of endless details; give me wings to get to the point. Seal my lips on my aches and pains. They are increasing, and love of rehearsing them is becoming sweeter as the years go by. I dare not ask for grace enough to enjoy the tales of others’ pains, but help me to endure them with patience.

“I dare not ask for improved memory, but for a growing humility and lessening cocksureness when my memory seems to clash with the memories of others. Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally I may be mistaken.

“Keep me reasonably sweet; I do not want to be a Saint—some of them are so hard to live with—but a sour old person is one of the crowning works of the devil. Give me the ability to see good things in unexpected places, and talents in unexpected people. And, give me, O Lord, the grace to tell them so. Amen.”

Goodnight, Elaine, sleep well, and when the morning greets you with the rising sun, you will hear music, the kind of music we all heard this morning. Keep singing that Song! 



18 Responses to Running my race . . .

  1. So glad you had such a blessed day yesterday, Elaine. And the note your father wrote you — what a treasure! I’d never heard A Nun’s Prayer before so thanks for sharing. So much wisdom in it!

  2. Your daddy’s note….not a bit of self-indulgence. In fact, we all need assurance that we have done well. We need it from our earthly parents and our heavenly Father. I believe you got it from both…through the pen of your Daddy. I know you blessed the socks off those precious people at Garner UMC. I wish I could have been there to be blessed right along with them.

    You are a might woman of God, my friend. I count it a privilege to sit under your teaching, even if it is not in person. Praise Jesus for the internet. We, your online congregation, bless you!

  3. What a beautiful bow your earthly father tied on the package you delivered on behalf of your Heavenly Father….. I know that as you carried and transmitted “the seed” that there will one day be a harvest!

  4. Oh how wonderful to receive such a note from your daddy! I LOVED it! And I don’t consider it a bit self indulgent! I consider it a privilege to have it shared with us. Soo glad it all went well yesterday. I just know everyone was blessed!

  5. Oh, this was special. Elaine, I just know that your presence and your words reached many hearts. And isn’t it just like the Lord to bless the preacher, too?! Your dad’s words were so precious. And I loved the prayer. I am learning new grace in a season when I am having to take on greater responsibilities with my aging parents. It’s tough – but I pray for patience and kindness…

  6. wifeforthejourney:

    What a blessing it was to sit with your Dad on the front row at Garner UMC this past Sunday. You have such a story to tell and shared a message that we all needed to hear. As I have said many times, lots of people can speak, and many will write on the subject of suffering BUT few have as much credibility as those who have actually suffered. Like the one dear cancer survivor who sought me out after the service and said, “What touched me about the message was that I knew the messenger understood me.”

    For me, what I see at work time and again when you get a chance to share the gospel with others is that your’s is a message that is effective with anyone. Cancer is just one form of suffering; in this life, not everyone will have cancer, but everyone WILL suffer. Whether people know you through your writing or your speaking, the best thing any of us can take away from your story is that Jesus has again proven himself faithful in all seasons of life. From the start of this race, to the finish line, I’m glad we’re in this together!


  7. What a day of abundance! I know you were blessed to be there and share, and the audience doubly blessed to hear you. I just KNOW that!

    Your dad’s nun’s poem, and words… beautiful and wise icing on the cake. Just wonderful Elaine!

  8. I LOVE your dad. He managed to make me cry. I’ve heard it said, “Tears in the writer, tears in the reader.” If I was weepy, my guess is that you brought him tears of joy as he wrote this. Now I see where you get your gift of writing from. It’s as clear as day now. From your incredibly gifted father.

    His heart put into words to his precious baby girl was like, well, I have no words. You’re dad would understand.

    • He’s a gem, Joanne. The first man to ever hold me and love me – solid footing for my receiving God’s love.

  9. I like your thought of being not just a cancer survivor but a soul survivor. it sounds like you are Ina really good place in your life. that’s great!

    • Exceedingly blessed to receive these words, Brenda. Both my mother and father have sown encouraging seeds into my heart over these past 47 years, none more so than in the last 3! Praying you are well, sister.

  10. Dear Elaine, I came by here a few days ago and just wanted to say what a blessing to read your father’s words and witness his love for you.

    ‘I had a strong feeling that we had done what we came to do . . . God and me.’ Is not that the best feeling in the world? Rest well tonight knowing that the Father is glorified through you. xo

  11. I had never seen the Nun’s Prayer either. It’s something that I really should pray everyday also! And I don’t mean this to come across in the wrong way, but, as in other times, I was just a little “jealous” when reading about you waking up under your parents roof and feeling so enveloped and secure in their love!! I do so crave that as an almost-60-year-old woman! But both my parents have been gone a long time. Never pass up a time to enjoy that feeling Elaine. As a parent, I…..and I’m sure you also….always love it from the other side when I can give my adult children loving, watchful care in their times of need.
    I do love you my Faith-ful friend Elaine!

  12. Hi Friend~

    What a special post about all that took place last weekend and also I loved the comment from your hubby! What a JOY to read what he wrote about ‘being in this together’… isn’t that what it’s all about? God gives us the privilege of partnering with what HE is doing in His Kingdom agenda and He places those all around us to get the work done [together] His Way! So beautiful! I’m so glad He has let your voice be heard! Because it’s always His message that comes through!

    Miss you and love you. [[HUGS]]

    Choosing JOY, Stephanie

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