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Sunday, November 4, 2007

Just Over the Next Hill

Psalm 68:19 (Amplified Bible)
Blessed be the Lord, Who bears our burdens and carries us day by day, even the God Who is our salvation!

I saw this verse today. Lately I have been go through my regular questioning mode. "When God, when will we be done?" It is natural when you are dealing with something that cannot be explained or does not seem to fit in with our human expectations, like cancer, child abuse, the death of a child or spouse. Basically tragedy in general. But God puts up with my questions, because serve a God who knows our struggles.

Psalm 86:15 But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness

I see Andrea each and every day struggle and to help me I place a point on the horizon to shoot for. Maybe a date or an event in the future to make it to. I just need a way to pace myself because I have no way of knowing how long this race is. I need a point an event to say all we have to do is make it to there, like placing a finish line on the horizon to run to. I close my eyes and I can see myself coming around the final turn, exhausted but there in the distance is the yellow ribbon stretched across the finish line. I dig down and find a pocket of strength deep inside and I press on to the end that is now within my ability. As I get closer, my body aching from exhaustion my lungs heaving desperately trying to supply the air my body needs, I push on envisioning the moment my chest breaks that ribbon and I'm finally able to stop running, to bend over and catch my breath. Then I realize the finish line is a mirage of my own making. Placed at a point on the track that was defined by what I saw as my own ability or lack thereof. But the race goes on, without mercy not caring what I think my limits are. The danger is if I don't pace myself mentally or physically I will at some point find myself emptied and unable to take another step.

Do any of you remember the Olympic marathon race where the runner had entered the stadium, trying to finish but so dehydrated and exhausted she entered the stadium walking as if she was drunk? Her name was Gabriela Andersen-Schiess and she was running in the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. She entered the stadium for the final 400 meters of the race so exhausted he could not even walk straight, wobbling barely able to put one foot in front of the other her left arm hanging limp and unresponsive. You watched this human totally empty of all strength horrified, why won't someone just help her. But the rules don't allow any outside help; she must finish on her own. The final lap took her almost 6 minutes to complete and once across the finish line she collapses. That is how I feel sometimes. Those days when you realize you have farther to go but you don't have the strength to finish. I paced myself off the finish line I placed based on the expectation I set. I have nothing more to give, but I'm not done. "How can I go on when it took all I had to get here?" Then I realize I can't make it I just don't have the strength or the ability. There are limits to our abilities and at that point you have two choices, quit or get help. I have told you there is no way I could make it if all I had was my determination or will power. It is when you have no strength to draw from when you come to this logical conclusion.

I have been that runner entering the stadium, in what was supposed to be my glorious entry only to find myself stumbling in from exhaustion.

But thankfully there are no rules that require me to go this alone. Actually the rule is you can't be a solo act in this life. It is like the poem, "Footsteps in the sand." God carries us when we no longer have the strength. What brings God more glory then the display of His strength through us?

2 Corinthians 12:9-11 But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Andrea told me when she was little riding in the car she would ask her Pa Paw, "How much farther to we have to go?" He would answer "Just over that next hill." Then Andrea could see an end, but there was always another hill on the horizon but she was that much further down the road and that much closer to home.

I'm thankful we serve a God who is compassionate and patient with me as I come back to Him and ask the same question again and again, "Lord are we there yet?" It's not that I don't trust Him; I think I just want to hear Him tell me again,

"Just over that next hill Jim, just over the next hill."

"Okay Lord, I think I can make it there."

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