a fixed gaze: icy-hot for the soul

After 2:00 this morning, some random alarm went off in my bedroom (Seth said it was imaginary), and as alarms tend to do, it woke me up – heart pounding, feet-kicking woke me up, and now the sun is peeking its head up over our side of earth, and I have to be a Mama. I mean, I get to be a Mama, which is to say, “Good morning. Today you get to run another marathon, sleep or no.”

And Mama or not, aren’t we all running?

So I am at 4:00 AM in the living room trying to pray, already giving in to coffee, scrounging for clarity, and I’m thinking how glad I am that He tells us from the beginning that we are winning the race, because in the running, with all the falling, all the wandering off path, the stopping to gaze long into others’ paths, with all the tired, I can start to think I’ll never make it to the finish line. 

And let me be honest about how I feel about this race: it feels like running on top of an earthquake – like when the three year old thinks it’s funny to hide so long that I flail my arms in the air yelling his name and going crazy-eyed in the front yard. When the mommy vertigo whirls in (imagine the disciples in that storm-beaten boat) and the ants invade my pretty bowl of cherries, and my inherited worry-wort syndrome hones in on Mother’s Day Out and the Swine Flu, I feel like I run in a room of Carnival mirrors.

This is why I’m glad He tells us, 

“since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 12:1-3)

Oh, but I get weary with my wandering eyes, my lustful heart, my lack of joy. If Jesus had JOY when the cross was before Him, how much more should I run as naked as I can stand it until I get home? (and I don’t mean naked, of course. I mean, run unencumbered. Run with our fig leaves thrown to the side. Run without trying to cover up God’s righteousness with a cute sweater set and a fancy house. Put down sin. Put down pretense. Put down works for the eyes of man. Forgive.)

Three days it took the creator of the Universe to battle what leaches my soul, and He won, finished it. Our trophies already have our new names on them. Why wouldn’t we get up, re-fix our gaze, and RUN? 

See there? At the end, not long from now, so close that we’ll laugh looking back,  there’s a wild bunch glowing, in whose arms we’ll breathe those deep relieved sighs, those arms and arms and arms passing, from faith to faith to faith, and then finally, that one hand there on that low dull pain in your back, the years of it from running, and another hand cupping your face, and the sweat, He’ll wipe with His fingers, and there we get to stop.

Won’t the running be worth the final rest, AWE and JOY-filled shouts of finally home?


See a Joy Pursuit: my Tumblr ~ Tweet with me? I’m Amberrunsamuck.

About me


What do you taste?
November 08, 2016
Wild in the Hollow Book Club: an Introductory video
August 28, 2015
What I Knew In My Dying Day: a Wild in the Hollow Guest Post by Tara Owens
August 19, 2015
How Right Living Was My Brokenness: a guest post from Kelly Smith
August 11, 2015
Standing Among the Flowers at Midnight
July 13, 2015
Marriage Letters: On Home
July 06, 2015
Condemnation on the Molehill
June 08, 2015
Tools for the Highly Sensitive Mother: An Introduction
April 27, 2015
A Final Haines Home Companion: a Secret I’ve Kept
June 06, 2014


Reply August 31, 2009

oh joy. i'm fixing my gaze this monday morning, grateful for this post and for the joy set before us. thank you!

Reply August 31, 2009

Oohhh i just LOVE LOVE LOVE this!!

Thank you!

Reply August 31, 2009

The joy itself was set before Jesus, to be given after He endured the cross. I think He fixed His eyes there, on what He hadn't yet attained, what He couldn't be given until He had been crucified, for the living doesn't come 'til after the dying. It is in the dying that joy is made for living.

You're so right; the running is worth that final rest. Don't despise yourself for the tired. He doesn't despise you. He wept tears and dropped blood at the thought of His own suffering. He knows how MUCH obedience requires. And He knows how weak we are. The joy for us in the running is that He bears us up, never leaving nor forsaking us.

Jane Anne
Reply August 31, 2009

I am going to come back a couple times today to read this- I just know it. I am tiiiiiired. I hab a coold and it's wearing me out when the day has just barely begun. Thanks for reminding me to focus.

Reply August 31, 2009

Such a perfect reminder to fix my gaze. Thank you for the descriptive interpretation of the long running marathon! And for the reminder of where the final destination is.

Reply August 31, 2009

Oh, I echo your struggle...thank you for inspiring, to just run it.
On the thought of running, thought you might like to see a sweet precious little one, running his race. (River Run for the Orphans) on Linny's blog. IT is so awesome.....watch the uTube....and just think, that would be us, so crippled by our brokenness but full of His life and running none the less, until we cross that finishing line with Amazing Love, ringing in our ears. http://aplacecalledsimplicity.blogspot.com/2009/08/isaiah-walks-publicly-at-5k-run-for.html


Reply August 31, 2009

Amazing, Amber. I have always loved that verse..."for the JOY set before him..."

Those things that hinder can be so tempting and even so good. Yet you're right--cast them aside. They still hinder.

Your last sentence made me feel like I do when I'm really worshipping...I guess because I was.

Cassandra Frear
Reply August 31, 2009


Lora Lynn
Reply August 31, 2009

Ooooo, this one is good stuff, friend. A seriously good read. Even if it did come out of a 2am wake-up-call.

Reply August 31, 2009

This is what one of our preachers spoke about yesterday at church, this scripture and everything. I had been in bed for a while thinking about it and was so frustrated to not be able to go back to sleep. I wasn't really processing what I had heard. BUT when I got up to write about it, I finally worshipped within my whiny circumstances. Sometimes it's the doing that gets our heads on straight.

I always feel weird when I get blog preachy. Thank you for the encouragement.

Emily M
Reply August 31, 2009

You go right ahead and blog preachy whenever you want. This is the best sermon I've heard in years.

Adventures In Babywearing
Reply August 31, 2009

Amber, I have a request. Will you please move up here and be my teacher?


Reply August 31, 2009

I am so completely encouraged by this. Yes yes, OF COURSE the running will be worth the final rest. "For our light and momentary troubles (blisters, fatigue, side splitting breathlessness) are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all."

Shaunie Friday
Reply August 31, 2009

Oh Amber,
This is special. You have captured so much in so few words and offered such profound hope! Thank you! I know I'll return to this one again and again.

Reply September 1, 2009

Don't worry about being blog preachy! This is great! Thanks for reminding us to fix our eyes and run!

Heather of the EO
Reply September 1, 2009

Beautiful. I too will come back to this one.

I worry about being blog preachy too. I guess I don't want someone who doesn't believe what I do to feel isolated or confused. That said, some things are just simply inspired, like what you've said here. These things just MUST be shared because they're pouring out of your heart and soul and it's your blog so your heart and soul should be seen here. Your very lovely heart and soul.

Kari Kounkel
Reply September 2, 2009

Amber! If you're moving, come here to MN and be MY friend. I'm telling you: between your posts and Seth's I get FOOD FOR LIFE!!!

Thank you. I'm glad you found each other!

PS: MN has great health care etc, but it's SO COLD here! I'm not really thinking YOU'D like it!

the scooper
Reply September 2, 2009

Oh, am I ever running hard right now. Every word of this post, it's where I am. Beautiful encouraging words.

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