Its six o'clock in the morning. The air is still misty from the morning dew. I get in my car, put on K-love ,the windshield wipers and head to my sister's house to do my morning laps. It's already a balmy 78 degrees out. As I pull into her driveway, I know it won't be long before the morning sun burns through the film in the air. It's going to be a hot one today! I grab my water, put on my earbuds and get steppin'! Around I go, praying and walking, praying and walking. I pray for my family and friends. I pray for our country and our President. Lastly, I pray for myself. "Lord keep me faithful in times of testing." It has been my prayer for a while now. You see I'm a little like Gideon from the Bible. (Judges 6-8) In that I feel like the weakest in my clan. But I pray to learn endurance.
It has always been hard for me to endure in activities outside of work. I am ashamed to confess, even activities for the Lord! I do struggle with health issues from time to time, but so do a lot of people that work with Gates of Hope. I'm thinking about all this as I make lap two!
Roxanne comes with an oxygen tank in tow! Imagine if Priscilla , Sherry or Faith didn't "feel" like working on a given day. People would not have food! So they toil on day after day, picking up donations, sorting them out and packaging food to give away. There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes to make this ministry possible. I am humbled by their commitment and faithfulness to it.
Sweat is now dripping from my brow into my eyes. I don't like sweat. It stings. as I wipe it away. Lap three is in progress. As I near the end of that lap I see I am almost at another cul de sac. My feet are hurting from Fibromyalgia. Do I by pass it and go to my car and call it a day? "No" the Lord whispers to my heart. "Do the last lap. You must learn to endure." Okay Lord, I reply as I head down that cul de sac and back. Here we go, lap four is on the horizon!
As I near the starting point, my car, I realize my head phones are dead. I have to put them in my car. It is so tempting to jump in it and take off! But with determination, I put them in the car and defiantly close the door and walk away! Victory! The battle is already won as I commit to doing that last lap! The testing time is over: God has given me the victory! I finished that last lap with no short cuts. Boy, was victory sweet!
God's word says in Romans 5:2-5 "We have also obtained access through him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we boast in the hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us."
You know we all will face times of testing. God loves us and wants to see if our faith is real, so He allows times of testing. Sometimes we fail at the same test over and over again. God will keep bringing us around that same mountain again and again until we learn to have faith in Him! Then He rewards us with victory!
Jeremiah 17:10 says, "I the Lord , search the heart, I test the mind, even to give to each man according to his ways, according to the results of his deeds." Psalm 7:9 says, "O let the evil of the wicked come to an end, but establish the righteous. For the righteous, God tries the hearts and minds." A Christian doesn't just say, "Oh, I believe" and that's it., life continues as if nothing has happened. No my friends, God wants to grow us in order to see our faith in action!
True faith is not works. But faith itself will produce good works. In other words, we don't work (do good things) to be saved. But when we place our trust in the Lord Jesus Christ and His shed blood alone for forgiveness, that faith will produce our doing good things to glorify our Father in heaven, just as Jesus did while He was walking in humanity.
Will you say as the psalmist David did, "Examine me, O Lord, and try me. Test my mind and my heart." Psalm 26:2 I am! It's a request that the Lord delights in answering. He wants us all to grow in faith!
We live in uncertain times. Things are changing rapidly. It's so important for us all to be reading our Bibles every day! We need to know Jesus Christ to even have a faith to grow! We get to know Him by reading God's word. Don't rely merely on an emotional experience you may have had. It won't carry you through the hard times and harder times may be coming!
Just remember, whatever you are suffering, it may be the hardest time in your life. But when we commit to seeing it through the stretch, God does reward us with victory. One day we will all, who are trusting in Christ, will taste the ultimate victory, standing before Jesus face to face. Whatever happens before that moment , that is the real last lap! Endure it and be one of God's champions!