Birth Pangs, Scoffers and the end of the Age

I am not one to overreact and I don’t throw out warnings lightly, but recently a person quoted a passage out of Matthew 24:3-8 that made me respond with “I think we are dilated to about an 8”. I would not be so bold in this except that almost every pastor and biblical scholar I have listened to in the past few years have been saying the same thing. We are seeing signs that the Bible has warned us to watch for, lining up at an alarming pace.

“And as He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”

And Jesus answered and said to them, “See to it that no one misleads you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will mislead many people. And you will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pains.”

Again, looking at another passage in 2 Timothy 3:1-5:

“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people”.

We cannot ignore 2 Peter 3:3-9 either:

Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue just as they were from the beginning of creation.” For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed by being flooded with water. But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly people.

But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not willing for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance.”

These are passages that a theologian would take much care and detail to unwrap in a series of sermons but I will give a brief overview of them in light of current events.

When Jesus spoke about many coming and saying they are the Christ, I saw that come to pass especially in the ’70’s’ when cults were abounding during the days of the “Jesus” movement. How tragic was the “Jonestown” massacre and the rise of many followers of the Reverand Sun Myung Moon. In our very humanistic culture today, we see people proclaiming themselves to be God.

It is no secret that nations are rising against one another as has always been the case throughout history. However, one must certainly take note of the historical, record breaking weather patterns in the past decade and even recent few years that leave us scratching our heads as to what has brought about such changes.

We are in a definite period of people being lovers of themselves. Arrogance abounds as many remove themselves from being created in the image of God that He has chosen for them and decided they will recreate themselves in the image of their own making. As far as they are concerned, God can meet them on their own terms but they will not be meeting him on his.

Loving pleasure, no self-control and disrespect towards parents or authority is a very clear description of our cultural norms. Working with youth these days, I am appalled at the language and attitude a child or teenager will speak towards their own parents or teacher. Few in previous generations would have dared to curse in front of or at an adult or spoken to them with such bold defiance.

Jesus went on to talk about lawlessness increasing and the love of many growing cold in Matthew 24:10. As we have watched the riots and disrespect towards the laws of our country disintegrate with even political leaders demanding that we defund the police all the while looking the other way as looters burn buildings and destroy public property, we have to wonder what is going on here?

Those who hold to a traditional view of marriage as being ordained by God between a man and a woman that has for centuries been upheld not only by the church but by the culture at large are now deemed as haters if they will not accept it to include various other partners.

Finally, we have scoffers and they are many.

I have always loved looking forward to the second coming of Christ. The passages talking about Him coming like a thief in the night, (1 Thessalonians 5:2), the virgins keeping their lamps full of oil for the bridegroom who will be coming when they least expect him (Matthew 25:1-13), the Lord returning with the sound of the trump and the shout of the archangel (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18) all encourage me to be full of hope and ready for his imminent return.

Yet, many of us are mocked and scoffed at like we are little fools believing in fairy tales when we are waiting for the fulfilled promise of the one who always keeps His word.

A day is like a thousand years to the Lord and He delays coming so that every single scoffer has a chance to humble themselves and turn to Him in full repentance, so that they too, can be taken up with Him when He returns to call His children home.

I am no prophet, but these scriptures were not written for prophets but for all who would believe that every word written in His book will come to pass. He wanted us to be prepared and to watch for the signs of His return and to warn others to get right with Him before it is too late.

Consider this my warning!

He is coming soon!

Maranatha! Come quickly Lord Jesus!

“Ya’ll Need Jesus”

Recently, Dad wanted chicken, and so of course being the dutiful wife and daughter that we are, mom and I ducked into the grocery store deli and grabbed a bucket of it to go. We arrived at the only checkout in the store seconds behind a couple of men who had a boatload of groceries to unload! (well, actually it was a cartload but you get the idea!)

Behind us stood a woman who had only one item as well.

Typically, as a common courtesy, the person ahead would let the ones behind check out first.

However these men quickly took note of us and diverted their attention to the task at hand as we patiently (or not) stood there waiting to check out.

I am not sure whether their lack of manners annoyed me as much as the fact that one of them had on a cap that said, “Ya’ll need Jesus”!

It is true that in that moment I most definitely did need Jesus but I was really questioning whether he himself didn’t need a bit of Jesus to teach him some good old southern manners for crying in a bucket!

I mean seriously! As they used to say in my school days, “Ain’t you got no home train’in”?

There were three women standing behind him with a total of two items between them and he had the audacity to boldly wear his “Ya’ll need Jesus” cap all the while he was making us stand in line for at least half a day! (I might be exaggerating a bit, but it did feel like a few hours anyway).

As the line continued to back up behind us, the checker called “Fred” on the intercom to please come up and open the next cash register.

We all waited and waited like a line of rejected girls at a dance just hoping to be asked out on the floor but Fred never showed. However, finally “Laura” did and I am certain every last one of us wanted to applaud her loudly and rise up and call her “blessed”! Laura most definitely had a bit of Jesus in her, I was just sure.

Meanwhile, under my breath, I was creating a “come to Jesus meeting” for the men in front of us. If there is anything that gets under my skin it is people who have bumper stickers that say, “honk if you love Jesus” while they are road raging down the interstate or wearing Christian apparel that doesn’t line up with their actions.

I had this great speech perfectly thought out and rehearsed in my mind (well maybe just a comment or two!)

“Hey, do ya’ll know Jesus? What would He do in the checkout line?”

“Can ya’ll tell me how to find Jesus? I’m not seeing Him here!”

As I gleefully basked in the abundance of wonderful comebacks that seemed perfectly appropriate in that moment, it suddenly came to my attention to remember the t-shirt that I had chosen to wear that day.

In bold letters it said: “Faith, Hope and Love will not be cancelled”.

Can anybody say, “ouch”?!

Everyone behind us had left to Laura’s checkout as the men in front of us wheeled their stash out the door and we followed next in line.

The checkout lady sheepishly scanned our chicken and declared, “I’m so sorry about the wait, we have to take each person in the order they come.”

“That’s o.k.” I replied.

“Have a nice day.”

As mom and I walked to our car and the two men drove off in theirs I thought to myself:

“My, my, indeed we do, ALL need Jesus”.

And me, most of all.

Smiles

You never realize the impact of a smile until you are in the absence of one.

For our precious little grandson who is wrestling with Lennox Gestaut Syndrome, we have been without his since December. We are now into July.

It hasn’t always been this way.

When he was born in May of 2020, he was progressing as any newborn would. He had a sweet nature and for all practical purposes, everything in his little world was fine.

I remember staying with his family in August and taking him quietly downstairs early in the morning to let mommy and daddy sleep in a bit.

As we sat on the couch, I began to talk to him and a sweet little smile curved up on his lips, as his eyes looked straight into mine. What joyous connection and contentment we had in that moment.

It was one of those pictures that seals in your memory to be pulled out when you want to think of something good.

I saw him briefly in September again and then shortly thereafter, his world started to unravel with one health issue after another until the diagnosis came.

His progress came to a sudden stop as he was rocked with infantile spasms and trials with medications, all which of course, would create chaos in his little body and especially his brain.

Smiles quit coming and progress slowed down. To be quite honest, all of us who loved him were having a hard time smiling.

Babies should go through stages of development that propel them forward into a world of discovery and awe. They laugh, crawl and increasingly engage in their environment.

When this becomes stunted and progress slows, those who love him begin to watch for anything that shows baby is going to be ok or at least not battling such an onslaught of intense suffering.

In December, for my birthday, I asked God to please let our sweet grandson smile.

Adults may fake their circumstances and smile through their sorrows but babies and children are sincere. They wear their emotions on their sleeves and there is no hiding them for long.

So imagine my joy when his mother reported that he had smiled! My prayers and so many from others answered! Happy Birthday to me!!

After another lapse for several months, a switch in meds and continued prayers have rewarded us with yet a few more smiles!

What is it about a smile that means so much to us?

A smile is like an upside down rainbow that represents hope, promise and a future.

It reminds us that at moments in this fallen world, we still can find joy, there is an oasis, a calm and a normal.

It reminds us that God has not forgotten us. He hears our prayers and we are not abandoned.

He knows when we have had enough and we need the encouragement of a smile.

It is a day by day journey with this sweet little boy and no doubt, there will be more obstacles along the way.

But for today, we have a smile and that in and of itself brings one to me as well.

Separating the Men From the Boys

June is a month full of testosterone in our family.

Not only do we celebrate Father’s day but both my dad and my hubby’s dad have June birthdays leaving us celebrating 3 events in the last couple of weeks of the month!

We don’t mind, because although our dad’s would admit they aren’t perfect, we honor them because they are true men and we respect them for that.

Both of our dad’s grew up in rural Kansas and came from hard working families. They both took jobs at early ages and kept up a good work ethic their whole lives.

When they took wives, they were serious about providing for them and any children that they would have. Although both of them were married to women who worked on and off in various seasons of life, it never crossed their mind to make her be the main bread winner, so he could sit at home unemployed, letting her pull all the weight.

I remember stories about my father-in-law climbing telephone poles in bitter cold weather, to fix broken lines as ice froze on his face. My own dad, as an insurance salesman, would drive for hours sometimes to meet with a prospective client, only to be stood up and his trip to be in vain.

My husband tells me that his dad would go to all of his sporting events and stay up late afterwards just to visit with him about his games. He was an involved dad who was his son’s scout leader and spent hours teaching him how to take care of a vehicle or learn a practical skill.

He not only did that with his own son, but he took that same investment of time with the many foster kids who called him “Dad” and came to live in his home.

My own dad, traveled a lot with his job, but I never doubted I was loved. I remember him being at several father/daughter events that I have no doubt, drug him away from an evening to relax at home after many long hours on the road.

Both of our father’s were viewed by us as protector’s and provider’s for their families. They were faithful to their wives and taught values to their children. Their sacrifices were numerous in ways that we didn’t always notice as kids but now that we are adults, we realize just how much they must have given up to provide for us.

Faith in God and a commitment to Christ were important to our dad’s and they took many opportunities to point us heavenward.

As we look at so many families where the father’s have left and have little contact with their kids, or choose not to meet their physical or emotional needs, we realize with great gratitude all that we have had.

Our dad’s separated the men from the boys.

Two of my sons are fathers now themselves and I am proud to say that they have grown from boys to men as well.

As I watch them with their wives and children, I am so pleased when I see the way they serve in their marriages and as fathers.

One of my son’s works over time on Saturdays in order to provide for his wife to be the main caregiver of their two boys, one of whom is struggling with serious medical issues. In the evenings, he helps care for them and spends time being a daddy.

My other son is just as involved with his new little one and works to make sure his wife can be a stay at home mom as well.

My sons are this way, because their Dad did the same and has handed down to them what his dad modeled to him; the characteristics that separate the men from the boys.

No men are perfect and the men in our family would be the first to admit where they have their flaws and feel they fall short, but I do think that there are some qualities that separate the men from the boys and this is the list of a few things that I think are worth noting.

When it comes to:

Money – boys make it to spend, men make it to provide. Boys spend it on today, men invest it for tomorrow.

Women – boys view them as objects for pleasure, men view them as a life partner and treasure.

Children – boys view them as an inconvenience, men see them as a heritage.

Faith – boys live only for this world, men are looking to build for eternity

Work – boys don’t care if someone else takes care of him or his family, men take responsibility in taking care of their own.

Morals – boys will blame or shame. Men take responsibility for their own shortcomings in their character.

When I look at this list, I realize the important role that men have in life and especially father’s.

Television sitcoms seem to so often portray them as stupid dimwits with their children rolling their eyes at them or their wives one upping them in every other comment.

It is easy to point at men and make them the problem, yet I feel we all must take some responsibility when we criticize and condemn men for being the very thing they are wired to be as providers and protectors.

After we have beaten them down enough, they will just throw in the towel and decide it is easier to remain a boy, if that is what society wants.

Women are unique and have their own strengths and gifts as wives and mother’s, we should love that and not see ourselves as inferior to men.

However, we need to commend and encourage those good qualities that separate the men from the boys.

I am so grateful for the men in my life. As I look back over the years, I realize that they have contributed much to my life as I have observed their strength, wisdom and leadership.

I have heard it said, “what this world needs are a few good men”.

I am thankful that I know a few. Hopefully, you do too!

Pushing in Chairs

It is not uncommon, in my job as a school librarian, to have a class land in the library for me to supervise. Often times, it is the last 25 minutes of the day during the class advisory if their teacher has a meeting or responsibility elsewhere during that time.

Recently, I had a group land with me, who having nothing to do, asked if they could play cards. It was fine with me, I said, as long as they put back the chairs they had pulled away from the other tables.

After about 20 minutes into their game, I realized that the end of the day bell was soon going to ring, so I reminded them, once again, to please put the chairs back.

When the bell rang and I was wiping tables, I turned to notice that they had run out the door without doing the one simple thing I had asked.

I must admit that I was more than just a tad bit annoyed. I started mumbling to myself about how I had been nice and kind to them by letting them play a game, and instead of being grateful, they couldn’t even take the time to be considerate and push the chairs back where they belonged.

As I stewed in what I felt was very justified annoyance, it dawned on me that this is exactly what I do to the Lord.

How many times do I see His kindness towards me in the day, and stop to thank him for it or respond obediently to something I know He wants me to do?

How often am I in too much of a hurry to acknowledge him or what He has done for me?

In what ways do I take advantage of His goodness, His mercy and His gifts?

When I feel dismissed, ignored or disrespected, do I ever think I may make God feel the same way?

What regretful thoughts flooded my mind as I wiped down the tables and pushed in the chairs, thinking of all the times that the Lord has been generous to me, cleaning up my messes, as I run on to the next thing.

So it seems the imperfect students reminded imperfect me that I do the same things to a perfect God . Nonetheless, his long suffering, patience and loving kindness continue to sustain me day in and day out despite my many shortcomings.

I wonder how many chairs in my life over the years, has God pushed back to the table?

I hear He doesn’t keep track of those things.

And neither should I.

Regrets

They say hindsight is always 20/20 and I can testify that from my own experience, this is true!

Unfortunately, my 20/20 left when I hit somewhere around 40 and everything else has followed suit as well!

Maybe like me, you have a “wish list” or maybe a “woulda, coulda, shoulda” one. Sometimes I pull it out and remind myself of what I might have done differently, if I knew then what I know now.

I wish I would have listened to my very light skinned friend who used to warn me about laying out to get a suntan as soon as warm weather hit. “You’ll get cancer!” she would chide as I happily slathered myself with another layer of “Coppertone”.

Her words come back to haunt me now, when I put on my morning makeup and see how hard it is to conceal the sun damage of my youth and the spots I need to keep an eye on.

I wish I would have taken my studies much more serious than I did. I wasn’t the worst student in the school but I do think a bit less ‘socializing’ with my friends and more application to the books could have served me much better in the long run.

What scholarships could I have gotten and what degree might have helped us out when finances were especially tight?

I wish I would have taken voice lessons. I love to sing but never learned correctly, so I don’t have the vocal control now that I had when I was younger.

How much I would enjoy having the depth and richness that my husband’s full voice still has due to the excellent instruction he received at Friends University as a Singing Quaker!

Yes, those regrets tend to sneak up on me at times until I remind myself of the flip side of that coin.

There are many decisions in my life however, that I don’t regret.

I came to trust in Jesus as my Savior in my early teens right as I was at a crossroad with what choices of friends and influences I was going to listen to. My love for Him and desire to know him more, set me on a trajectory that totally transformed my life with purpose and a love for others that I hadn’t experienced before.

Beauty, talent and intellect could not have filled the empty places that I felt deep inside of me that only Jesus could fill. The freedom, peace and wisdom for life He gives are all a product of His immeasurable love that can’t compare with anything this world has to offer.

I have never once, regretted that I am a Christ follower. The abundant riches of His love and faithfulness are a wellspring of living water that never runs dry. It is not always easy and I am far from perfect, but He always makes a way. He is my purpose in life.

I don’t regret marrying my husband and serving in ministry with him. He is a good man and I know God brought me exactly who I needed to balance me out.

I don’t regret having made the decision to be a stay at home mom. Every sacrifice involved economically, emotionally and physically to invest in our five children has been worth it in immeasurable ways. Each one of them is a gift and the opportunity to pour into their lives and watch them grow into the wonderful individuals they are has been a joy and I am grateful to be called their “mom”.

I have no regrets about the hard times and trials that I have faced in life. They have shaped and strengthened me into the person I am today, which would not have been the case had my life been cushioned from sorrow and struggles. Romans 8:28 has played out in my life in amazing ways.

The regrets in life keep me humble. They remind me that I am human and I don’t know everything nor will I, this side of eternity. Nonetheless, they have purpose and meaning if for no other reason than to give me a retrospect of wisdom for future decisions, or to pass on to someone else.

At the end of the day, whether I have regrets or not, really doesn’t matter when I consider that all of these things have served a purpose, not just in shaping me into the person I am today but also in the one I will be tomorrow.

“For we know that all things work together for the good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

Just a Little Taste of Heaven

Easter was different for me this year.

With my parents and single daughter in Branson, and not having been there since Christmas, I knew I needed to head that way.

This would mean leaving my husband to preach in Kansas, missing the celebration with our church family, but only having a 3 day weekend occasionally available, it was now or wait until June.

I left after work on Thursday and as I drove, I reminisced about the times when as a family, we were usually together. With four of our five adult children married now and spread apart, it was happening much less often.

None of them are in the same vicinity of each other. Branson, Idaho, North Eastern Missouri, Nebraska, and Kansas have called all of them in different directions, making it a stretch to get together more than once a year.

I must admit that this causes me to envy my friends who live within a reasonable range of all their families, where they will fill a weekend with multiple family gatherings, enjoying the food, worship, Easter egg hunts and building memories.

It isn’t that I regret my life or choices. Ultimately, I know that all of them are about God’s sovereign lead and call. He has a plan for each of us and it is not always the same. Nonetheless, at times, I must admit, I miss my whole tribe being together!

So, with my parents staying put, my daughter and I headed to an outdoor Good Friday service with her church that was being held at a ranch. Many people were there and it was a treat to sit with some of her friends and share in the service.

After some worship and prayer, the girls and I made our way to the barn area and as I was waiting for them to return, someone grabbed me for a big hug and I realized it was a friend of my daughter’s who happened to notice me standing alone. I hadn’t seen Nathan for awhile and it was such a surprise to have him find me in the crowd.

As a part of the service, we were asked to find our way to a table of twelve where a host and hostess would serve us communion. It would be a reminder of the last supper when the intimate group of Christ followers shared in the breaking of bread and drinking of the cup before the crucifixion that was to come. It was to be a family feel in a small intimate setting as we reflected on these last hours leading up to the cross. I hadn’t thought about the table we were sitting at until I realized that I was being served communion by two friend’s of my kids, who were on staff at the church. Out of all of the tables that were there, and we sat at the one where they knew our names!

It was a special time as another friend joined us and our table was full with familiar faces. Call it an epiphany or what have you, but the Lord seemed to be opening my eyes to realize that someday, in his kingdom, every face will be familiar and everyone will be family.

There will be a day when we are no longer separated, lonely or missing our loved ones, but all who are in eternity with us, will be a loved one because they loved “the One”. They will know our name, we will know theirs and we will have a familiarity with one another because of the spirit of Christ who unifies all believers.

We will be one big, happy family, under one roof, sharing a banquet table that will seat us all.

Until that day, when I am finally home, it is a comfort to know that God is able to meet my every need right here and right now, even if it means providing a family in the absence of my own.

“And my God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19

MY OWN HAPPY, MEDIOCRE LIFE

Simply Shelli

My life now, in some ways, does not look like I thought it would when I was young.

After reading this great blog that a friend posted titled, “What if All I Want Is a Mediocre Life?”, I stopped to ponder that this is pretty much the life that I live but not the life that I thought I wanted, but have found now that it is exactly where I want to be!

There was a time when I thought I would do something more with my singing, my speaking, my writing, my impacting the lives of others. After all, we are always told to dream big, right?

Somewhere along the line, life got full of little people, household responsibilities, being a pastors wife and trying to keep daily life moving forward as sanely as possible.

I thought to myself, “this is just a season, someday, it will look different…

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Rick and the Battle of Rats

“What on earth was that?” I asked out loud as I sat upright in our loft bed, almost hitting my head on the ceiling.

We had our newborn baby daughter in the crib below us, and I knew that although she made all kinds of little infant sounds, she didn’t make one that sounded like a high pitched squeak!

Hubby, Rick, had heard it too and having worked on farm settings and familiar with all kinds of critters, he knew instantly that there were rats in our small apartment!

Having moved into tiny, seminary housing in downtown Dallas, it wasn’t uncommon to find ourselves beseiged by cockroaches but this rat visitation was a whole new level of horror as far as I was concerned.

Hadn’t I read that they would gnaw on babies toes, and run across people’s beds as well as carry all kinds of diseases?

Count me out, I am taking my baby and we are going to a hotel!

Knowing he would probably never get his wife back to the apartment again, Rick announced that he would take care of it right then and there.

I grabbed the baby and sheltered high up on our loft bed as the battle between Rick and the rats began.

First of all, hearing Rick banging about, the rats went scurrying under the kitchen stove where they decided it was safe to hunker down for the night.

Rick, determined that there were two of them, grabbed my butcher knife, turned the oven on high and prepared to “smoke” them out.

Smoke indeed! It didn’t take long before I began to smell singed hair and hear more of the squeaking sounds, although they were albeit a bit more frantic.

The battle of the rats was in full swing!

The first rat made a run for safety, away from the heat and was immediately stabbed.

The second one, waited a bit longer, weighing out his options; “let’s see…shall I burn at the stake or die by the sword?”

Risk taker that he was, he didn’t learn from his friends’ demise and making a run for it, the knife found him as well.

Rick, the warrior, proud of his victory, triumphantly marched into the bedroom to show his distressed damsel, his prized trophy, only to find I wanted nothing to do with the sight or smell of the tragic, dead rats!

Rick, the warrior, proudly walked into the bedroom with two singed smelling, dead rats to brag on his victory, only to find me loudly proclaiming that I did not want to see them, smell them or have anything to do with them!

Having conquered the enemy, his battle over, Rick decided to dispose of them in the alley dumpster behind our apartment complex.

He no sooner got there, opened the lid to toss them in, before a cat sprang out of the trash, grabbed the rats and had the finest cat BBQ in the neighborhood that night!

Rick came in and found the hole that they had entered through, which led to the run down apartments next door.

The hole was plugged, the baby put back to bed and the battle weary warrior and I went to sleep.

I must have eventually recovered from the trauma because my son and daughter-in-law currently have 4 domestic pet rats and somehow I haven’t disowned them yet!

Run With the Finish Line in Sight!

I never knew exactly when it would happen but I always knew it would.

We called it “the Seth kick” and it made every track meet an exciting one!

When our kids were in high school, four out of our five ran but two of them loved it and stayed with it until they graduated.

Our son’s Seth and Luke each had their own style of running and both of them excelled in distance.

They came by it naturally, given their dad was a runner and loved to give them pointers and encourage them to give it their best (unbelievably, he still holds the record for the mile at his high school!)

Luke typically ran a consistent pace that I dubbed “the putt putt”. He would find his stride and keep it, giving it all he had until he crossed the finish line. He would usually have no more and no less than the pace that he found about mid race but it served him well and I can’t remember a time that he didn’t come home without a medal.

Seth was a different story altogether. He would start with the gun and take off, often with a group of boys breaking away and taking the lead.

Seth would stay a ways behind them, find his stride and run his pace as the boys ahead of him would continue in the front.

At some point, towards the last two laps, we could see Seth start to get a second wind, mustering every ounce of energy and determination he had, digging into the track as he began to gain ground on the runners in the lead.

We would go wild with excitement, cheering and screaming for him as the gap between them narrowed, closing the distance.

Sometimes I would think he had waited too long to get that kick but then it would come just in time.

One by one, he would begin picking off his competitors until he would cross the finish line, more often than not, in first or second place, depending on the team.

I could get so excited watching my boys run that I had to work out my jitters down by the track fence.

It wasn’t uncommon to hear a coach yell at his team in the lead, “Rehmert is gaining on you, go, go, go!”

This mamma loved it!

The most important thing for a runner to know is that he wants that finish line and he will give it 100% until he crosses it, no matter the cost.

“No pain, no gain” as the saying goes and distance runners feel that one deep.

I have never seen a runner get close to the finish line and decide to slow down unless he/she had an insurmountable injury (I actually saw a kid pull a ligament in his leg once and still finish strong!)

They see the goal, they smell that medal and even if they are in last place, everything within them says, “I started this race and I am going to finish it.”

Their coaches train them to have grit, perseverance, drive and desire to win. They are drilled day in and day out to increase their stamina, discipline their bodies and finish the race.

I can’t help but think of how much we need the encouragement to do the same.

Life is much like a distance race. Sometimes we can’t find our stride. Other times we see the finish line but it seems so far away and we are already feeling depleted of our energy. Maybe we see others that seem much further ahead and we wonder why we should bother.

The worst thing we can do, when we see the finish line in sight, is to take our eyes off of it and slow down or quit the race.

Whether we run with consistency or get a kick at the end, the goal is to finish strong.

For those who follow Christ, there is a crowd watching and cheering you on, so you can do just that!

“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

Whatever your stride, find it and keep running that race!

I can’t wait to see you at the finish line!

I can’t wait to see you at the finish line!