Running Heavy

Running Heavy

Then Pharaoh hastily called Moses and Aaron and said, “I have sinned against the LORD your God, and against you. Now therefore, forgive my sin, please, only this once, and plead with the LORD your God only to remove this death from me.” Exodus 10:16-17

I started running marathons in medical school, but then in residency, I put on a significant amount of weight. Recognizing this, I began running again, hoping to lose the weight I’d gained. I signed up for a few marathons and I did some training runs. I was also growing my opioid addiction at this point though, so my self-control was abysmal. I never lost any of the weight I intended, and on race day, I was always far too heavy. I had no business trying to run 26.2 miles in that kind of shape. Every race, in misery, I’d find myself promising that I’d lose the excess weight before my next marathon. In my discomfort, I promised change. Once the race was over though, I’d go right back to my old eating habits, losing no weight. Then, on the next race day, I’d once again lament my poor choices. I’m really going to change this time. This time I really mean it.

In my addiction, I did something very similar. In my misery, I promised repeatedly that I’d change. I’ll get sober tomorrow. When tomorrow came though, I went right back to my old behavior. When I eventually faced terrible consequences, I asked God to deliver me from those consequences. Having had enough of my foolish behavior though, God intended to use the pain to change me. My focus was always on my misery. I wanted my consequences to be removed, but not my sin. I didn’t really want to change. I just wanted to be free from the self-destruction of my behavior.

Pharaoh found himself here in today’s passage. In the story, locusts covered Egypt in the eighth plague. Losing all crops to the devouring hoard, Pharaoh begged Moses to ask God for deliverance. In his wretched circumstances, Pharaoh once again promised change. Once the locusts were removed though, he went right back to his old ways. He didn’t truly want God. He didn’t truly want to change himself. He just wanted God to change his circumstances.

Most of us have found ourselves here. We go our own way and suffer some consequences. Then, in misery, we promise change, begging God for deliverance. Once life goes back to normal though, so does our behavior. This proves that we didn’t really want to change, we just wanted comfort. Often, we beg God to fix our painful circumstances when we should be praying that he use our painful circumstances to fix us.

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