Sometimes you know going in that it will be a stretching experience. This ten-day challenge of camping in the hottest part of the Summer always is, and here I am again, scribbling lists and making piles, mentally prepping as if for a marathon. Because once we head out there is no more time to prepare and train, no stopping till the Finish Line. Whatever comes, we’ll deal with it as we go with the resources that are at hand…and from experience I can say that anything can (and will) happen when you are living and working outdoors with people you don’t know well. The one underlying goal is to be Christ-like in the midst of every unfamiliar, uncomfortable, stressing circumstance; the one thing you can count on is finding Christ’s strength and help in the midst of it all… and sometimes even serendipitous blessing.
Thus the mixed emotions, because as difficult as the next two weeks will be, I can look forward to God making Himself known in ways that I could not see here in the familiar and routine. Marathons are like that: a catalyst for change, an exercise that pushes Who You Are into something stronger, maybe even a tool for transformation in the hands of Someone who knows what He is doing. And when you finish you get that unique mixture of satisfaction and relief for a difficult task completed.
So I take a deep breath and get ready to plunge ahead, to see what it is I have been training for, see what the race will call forth from me this year. Somewhat dreading. Definitely anxious. Maybe a little excited. Thankful that this annual challenge is neatly counted into days.
It’s possible my whole life might be a marathon race like this…one uniquely stretching and transforming event that is both difficult and amazing…except my viewpoint isn’t big enough to see the entirety and I was not aware enough to know it from the start. But I take it by faith that out ahead somewhere there is a Finish Line, and I do see God at work in the good and the bad, showing Himself in new ways as we go. I trust that Someday I will see with an eternal perspective that makes everything clear…that some Morning I’ll wake up with the overwhelming relief and satisfaction of a marathon well-completed. In the meantime, I am still running.
“…I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” (Philippians 3:13-14)
“I believe like a child that suffering will be healed and made up for, that all the humiliating absurdity of human contradictions will vanish like a pitiful mirage, like the despicable fabrication of the impotent and infinitely small Euclidean mind of man, that in the world’s finale, at the moment of eternal harmony, something so precious will come to pass that it will suffice for all hearts, for the comforting of all resentments, of the atonement of all the crimes of humanity, of all the blood that they’ve shed; and it will make it not only possible to forgive but to justify what has happened.” (The Brothers Karamazov, Fyodor Dostoevsky)