When am I finished?

Perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did. ~Newt Gingrich

Do you know Frank Sinatra’s famous song ‘High Hopes’ from the 1959 movie, A Hole in the Head? Sinatra encouraged his young co-star, Eddie Hodges, to keep his chin up and keep plugging on through bad times just like the hardworking ant.

Can an ant move a rubber tree plant? Not by itself, but maybe if it has some buddies. One scientist took a photo of an ant lifting 100 times its own weight!

Plugging away through troubles and disappointments is an admirable trait. Keeping your head above water in a storm is what we hope for. But it’s all easier sung than done.

Paul and Silas made it to Thessalonica and started teaching in the local synagogue. All went well, converts were made, and then the Jews got jealous and ran them out of town.

No problem. They headed off to Berea and had great success there teaching about Jesus. But those Thessalonians heard about it and made trouble in Berea as well.

Not to be deterred, Paul headed to Athens and began teaching in the public places there. Paul was quite an ant.

Because Paul knew that it wasn’t about moving the plant.

It was only about working as long as he had life.

Are you still breathing? Then pick up your plant and start moving. There’s work to do.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV

I Don’t Like This Road

Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise. Seek what they sought. ~Matsuo Basho

My mother gets terribly carsick. She has lived all of her life in curvy, mountainous West Virginia, and the sickness has never left her.

There are roads that she refuses to use because experience has taught her that she will have lunch twice, maybe three times. It seems unfair that she should never have relief.

It also seems unfair that she should have beautiful vistas at her every turn when others don’t have such sights. Their rear view mirror reflects dumpsters and street lights. They peer through windshields to see smoggy valleys and graffiti-filled alleys.

Everyone travels their own road.

Maybe that seems harsh to you.

You cry out to God, “WHY!?”

Why do I have to be deaf? Why is my child autistic?  Why does my husband look at other women? Why can’t I have a baby? Why don’t I get a good job? Why am I short, tall, black, brown, too thin, too fat . . .

But what if it is only the road that is making you sick? If you stop the car for a minute, do you see a beautiful vista on the horizon? Is there a sunset glowing over top of the smog?

Jesus asks us to walk down the Via Dolorosa with him, a road that leads to death. Will you go?

People will throw stones. There will be sweat, spit, and blood. Angry curses will be hurled your way. The rest of your life will be affected. Your friends may even turn their backs on you.

But you get to walk beside the Savior of the World. He knows your name and his eyes look into your soul.

It’s worth it, isn’t it?

What if the road you are on now is the one Jesus has asked you to travel? Your deafness makes you notice things that hearing people don’t. Your autistic son amazes you with his insight. You counsel other women, adopt a homeless child, learn to be content, even generous. Do you still want off? Will you still beg for another route?

Or will you idle the motor a bit and see what beauty surrounds you?

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12 NIV


Keep On Walking

We may stumble and fall but shall rise again; it should be enough if we did not run away from the battle. ~Mahatma Gandhi

I was struggling to get to the end of the year.  It had been a class of crazy girls and my last nerve was shot.  I told a fellow teacher what was going on and that I wasn’t sure if I could get to the end of the term. She wondered whether we would be allowed to use the laminator next year.

We were both on a mission, but not the same one.

In Mark 8, Jesus tells his disciples that he is going to suffer and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and teachers of the law. Not only will he be rejected by those in power, he is going to be killed.

Peter takes him aside and says stop talking like that; it’s not good for morale.

Then in chapter 9, Jesus tells his disciples again that he is going to be handed over and killed.

Their response? Which one of us is the greatest, perhaps next in line?

In chapter 10, they are on their way up to Jerusalem. Jesus explains again that he will be handed over to the leaders to be condemned, mocked, flogged, and killed.

James and John ask for the thrones to the right and left of Jesus. Power, they want power.

Jesus was surrounded by distracted and oblivious friends. He was telling them the mission God had given him, and they responded with their own interests and concerns. They weren’t listening, weren’t interested, weren’t capable . . . whatever is was, they weren’t.

What is the path God has placed you on?

Are you headed toward an overseas adoption surrounded by people who want to know why you don’t adopt domestically?

Are you moving your mother in with you while others show you pamphlets of nursing homes?

Are you buying a house on the “bad” side of town to serve others, while your friends leave crime stats on your seat at church?

Jesus continued walking uphill to Jerusalem, knowing his fate, knowing he wasn’t supported, knowing no one else understood – knowing God had placed him on that path.

God places each of us along the road to Him. Our route doesn’t look like anyone else’s, except for the potholes and obstacles. Jesus kept right on walking around them.

We are called to do the same.

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. Colossians 1:9-12 ESV