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Given, Never Earned

Written by Jennifer Haiducek

I anxiously jogged to the start line of the Oak Island Half Marathon a few weeks ago. I had worked hard to get back into racing shape, post-baby, and was excited to start the race eight months after having our daughter Hudson. I had already run a marathon and half-marathon, post-baby (praise the Lord!), but for this race, I had really trained hard and was going for a PR (personal record).

Being pregnant was a challenging time for me. I didn’t have any complications or health problems - I just didn’t feel like myself and couldn’t run as competitively, especially near the end. Before being pregnant, running was my thing, and I was good at it. As the pregnancy went along, I still kept at it, but I wasn’t as fast, and it was more difficult. This was frustrating at first, but as more time went by (and I got larger and larger), I realized that God was teaching me to slow down (literally and figuratively) and find the joy in the abilities He has given me.

I developed a deeper love for running during this time, seeing it as an ability and gift that God has given me. Most notably, I started to enjoy and praise God for the things I could do and feel the pure joy of praising God as I ran. Running was no longer about winning the race, it was about the Creator and Giver of all gifts.

As I waited for the gun to go off to start the race, I prayed, “Thank you God for this day, for every breath you have given me, the ability to run, my loving family, and most importantly, your son Jesus Christ who died for my sins.” I was teary eyed as I thought to myself that I had done nothing to deserve anything in this prayerful list of blessings - they are all precious gifts from God, and I want to give Him all the praise.

At one point in my life, I would have thought that my ability to race had something to do with myself: my dedication, my efforts, and my training. I now know I am not here based on my own efforts. Every ability, skill, talent, step, and breath is a gift from God, and I praise Him for everything He has given me.

A few miles into the race, I saw an inspirational sign that said, “Earned - never Given.” I thought to myself, “That sign has it all backwards!” It should read, “Given - never Earned.” We live in a world that operates by the phrase “Earned - never Given.” It’s no wonder why it is so easy to forget the free gift of salvation and think that it’s something we have to earn.

Grace is an opposite way of thinking from the world in which we live. All of our gifts are given from God, whether it's running a marathon, fixing a computer, performing surgery, making people laugh, leading a mission trip, you name it. But it is so easy for us to get it all backwards. We can fall into the trap of thinking that we have to do more, give more, or be better to earn God’s favor.

You are enough just the way you are because it has nothing to do with you.

It is a free gift from God; it is “Given - never Earned.”

Every day is a gift from God, every breath is a gift from God, and most importantly our eternal life is a free gift from God. It is given, and there is nothing we can do to earn it! Thank goodness (because I could never be good enough), and praise the Lord!

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