Running or Crawling

Do you ever have those days (weeks, months…) where you feel like saying, Enough Lord. Is the race over yet, I’m tired….

For some reason those days come more and more for some of us. There are days though where that fighting spirit is feisty and I am ready for running the best I can, but then the next day I find myself crawling, bloody knees and all, just trying to make it around the next bend.  Every day whether I’m tired or feisty,  I pray my way through just to  be able to do what I have to do and sludge on hoping things will work out.

The church God led the boy and I to is an amazing church – I’ve described it to folks before, and they really are a walk the talk bunch of folks who are active in and around the community where we live, and also very involved in missions.  We’ve sent a few folks out, raised money for trips and support many mission groups who minister to people in the US and around the world.

Yesterday a couple spoke who are in deputation trying to raise enough for their ministry, The Well International.  This older couple are well known to many at our church, as they were teachers and dean at a Baptist college where many of our families have or still attend.  They have been active in the mission field for a dozen years now and “go ye, into all the world...”

Their simple motto is that they don’t go to a county with their agenda, they go to help local pastors, churches, outreaches and missionaries with theirs. Whatever the local needs, they come to aid and share the Gospel in whatever ways they can.  Some of the places they’ve been to are either closed, or hostile to Christianity, but they have described how God still opens doors when the way seems shut.

The lives of the least of these- outcasts, lepers, widows in India, the poorest in South America and Africa and the persecuted in the Middle East.  Those people on the other side of the world know that they are in a race that they will win, but at a sacrifice that most of us would never believe, understand or experience.  Being taken, and murdered, not being found for years… being sold into slavery… having your family slaughtered before your eyes, your church torched.. It seems almost as if they are living in a hopeless situation in the world’s eye- when and if the world even notices.  Yet talking with them, they are full of hope and joy unbounding, praying earnestly for the Gospel to spread and the persecutors coming to Christ. It’s incredible.

These folks  don’t look for the next bend in the road, they focus on where Jesus has put them in the race and count it all joy-no matter how they arrive at the finish line.

Lawngren sent me something the other day that I want to include here, because he described things pretty well about how I’ve been for a while… simply put- Tired.  He understands and I think a lot of folks do, but he has a good way of always reminding of the flip side….

“I know you’re tired all the time, Duckie. I’m tired all the time too, but last night a very cheering thought struck me. By keeping on when we’re tired, when it’s a struggle to drag ourselves out of bed every morning and a struggle to stay out of bed until late in the night, we’re doing it right. Living our faith, I mean. It would be easy to make excuses and not do things like you, Duckie, working on HB when you have a headache. All of us face struggles. All of us are tempted to quit, or at least to take a month off. But we keep on, in spite of not knowing if we’re really accomplishing anything much.

I watched “Facing the Giants” last night, and as every time, I felt my blood surge as I listened to Coach Taylor yelling at Brock, “Your VERY best! Your VERY best! Don’t you quit on me, Brock Kelley!”

Then I thought, we’re not quitting. You, Faith, Heather, Suffer, TXBullfrog, sjmom, CarFan, Wahoo, Walt, BruceWV, akpapa, Pflichttreue … we’re all hanging in there, with a desire to accomplish something for God’s Kingdom. Maybe nothing more than encouraging each other. We may not be impressive in the eyes of the world, or even in our own eyes. But I hope, I think, I believe, that sometimes God points to us and says to some of the angels, “You see these believers? They really believe! They don’t quit! They honor Me and My Son even when their lives are rough, when there are no apparent results, when there is opposition, and they’re tired and discouraged and have headaches and more on their plates than they can easily handle.”

A few years back, I had a book about PJs – the Air Force’s pararescue jumpers. There’s an incident where the PJs have just rescued a bunch of Marines, and they’re all back on the carrier deck. The PJs helicopters are shot full of holes big enough to see daylight through. One Marine nudges another, points to the shattered, battered helicopters, and says, “These guys don’t bail on you when it gets rough.”

Neither do we. Right now we’re not facing anything nearly as bad as our brothers and sisters in the Mideast are facing, but we’re in training. If [God forbid!] serious trouble comes our way, we will handle it. It won’t be easy. It won’t be fun. It may break our hearts or destroy our bodies. But we will handle it. Because we are embracing the training routines. We pray for each other. We share our struggles. We encourage each other. We don’t let our differences divide us. We research and write articles. And we do all this in a hostile world, while we have to earn our living at the same time.

I think we can take a break for a minute and thank God that we have reached this point, that while we have our fears and even our doubts, God has developed our faith to the point where we Are. Not. Quitters. Thank You God, for the grace just to get to this point in faith. Grant us that we may not fail. That we may finish well. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Those missionaries ask such simple things of us, realizing that not everyone has the abilities, time or finances to go with them. But they know that if we can’t help fund them, then our prayers will go with them, then they will be encouraged and so will we.

On those days that  we’re tired and have no more left remember, that’s when God’s strength shows up, just when we need it.   His strength is what will continue us in our race while encouraging each other, no matter what lies ahead.  If we can remember that, then we will also remember the joy that comes with it.

Have a blessed day all, and don’t quit!