Monday, March 19, 2007

Hanging In There

Everything is for a purpose. This is what so many different people keep telling me. Everything has its place, and God is working through the situation. Isn’t it funny how those words are so anecdotal when you are in the midst of that situation? Perfectly relevant when you are outside, but meaningless when you’re the one who’s taking the beating. This is what it must feel like to be in the 14th round as a boxer.

You go back to the ropes at the end of a hard fought battle. Three minutes separate you from it all being over. Your legs feel like concrete, your arms like jelly. You can barely see straight because of the blood running down your brow. Your lips are swollen and your body bruised. Some coach squirts water on your face and into your mouth while a doctor applies a strip to your new cut to stop the bleeding. “Hang in there,” they tell you. “It’s almost over,” they say. “You’re doing well, just watch out for the left jab, and keep your feet moving!” As if you weren’t trying to do all those things already. You’re unsure that you’ll even be able to stand up when the bell rings, but it sounds so easy when you’re not the one facing the barrage of punches.

This is not to say any of that advice is not entirely true. It’s just advice that is meant for hindsight, not present times. That boxer knows that he’s going to get paid. I know this is all for the purpose, but that doesn’t make it any easier to get in there for another round. My spirit still yearns for thirty seconds more. My heart wonders if it will be able to get up from the stool. My brain asks what the purpose really is if it isn’t readily available. My soul... my soul says hang in there.

I’ve been here before. I’ll be here again. Never before in quite this way. Never again. But I’ve been here. So have you. That last kilometre before the finish line. Each step drags over the pavement as the sun beats down on your from above, daring you to surrender to its heat. “Forget about the 30 kilometres you’ve run so far, you’ll never make that last one,” it scoffs. Be still, my soul. Be quiet, you scoffer. And you put your head down, pump your arms a little faster and pick up the pace. Each metre a war, each step a battle. But when you cross the finish line, you lift your hands in triumph, your body relieved it can rest.

1 Corinthians 9:23-27
I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings. Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

oh, how I know what you mean. Thank you for encouraging me with that, though it be unintentionally. I am praying for constantly as you are on the last half of your time in Fiji. Take shelter in Him and let Him strengthen you when you feel spent. It may sound cliche, but just ask for it and trust Him to be faithful. He is good!