It’s been a rough few weeks. Mom had surgery a couple of weeks ago. Everything went downhill and she had surgery again. Lots of pain and near misses, frustrations and fears, she has been poked and prodded and kept asleep while we battled to keep her heart rate up, her blood pressure down, and her organs barely functioning. You know if you’ve been through this kind of thing that most of that has been surrounded with prayer. And many of those prayers have been dotted with questions. How long? Why? When? What’s next?
You know our story. My sister was killed on this day 36 years ago. A few months later my parents divorced. Then another sister died with leukemia. I have contributed to the pain in my family with my own dumb choices. And if you don’t know our story you know your own. I’m sure you have had your share of times when you have asked those questions. Why? How long? What’s the use?
If you have celebrated very many birthdays at all you have endured hardships. There are so many things that we go through that bring up questions, offer few answers, and keep us wondering. Leonard Sweet said, “Life is full of an awful lot of moments and a lot of awful moments.” There is a tendency to question all of that and ask, “Why, Lord?” I would love to tell you that it is all apple pie and daisies but it just isn’t so. We all face yukky stuff now and then and wish we didn’t have to go through it.
A couple of weeks ago my daughter-in-law and I ran in a race called the Muddy Buddy, a 5 mile obstacle course that involved scranbling over walls, climbing ropes, and running through creeks. The last 50 yards was a mud pit that you had to crawl through on your belly. Don’t ask me why but we did it. After the race there was a “mini buddy” that Jon-Mical ran in. Jennifer and I ran beside him. He was amazing. He ran with all the 4 year olds and he was blazing. Darting in and out, arms pumping, he passed everybody in the pack and led the race…until he got to the mud pit. Jon-Mical came to a screeching halt and said, “PoppyC, I am not going through that.” Everybody passed us while we talked Jon-Mical into wading into the gunk. I thought about that and came to a revelation. Jon-Mical’s problem was that he didn’t know the prize was on the other side of the yukky stuff. You had to go through the mud to get the medal and ribbon on the other side.
There’s a message here for us. All of that hardship stuff we go through…there is a prize on the other side. I learn patience. I find peace. I discover dependence on the Father. I change my perspective and priorities. I am convinced that for every trial I face there is a wonderful prize on the other side that builds my character and makes me more like Christ.And that’s just the “mini buddy.”
In the “big race” I go through tough stuff knowing that there really is something special on the other side. Paul says, “I have fought a good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith. So, there is laid up for me a CROWN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS.” Listen, life is not just about heaven and that mansion over a hilltop. We have a purpose and a passion here. There is much to do. But part of what keeps me going through the yukky stuff is remembering that this is just fleeting. It’s only a short race with a series of obstacles. The mud washes off. The real prize is on the other side. My friend Ed Irwin wrote a chorus years ago. I hum it to myself a lot.
“For hearts that are bleeding and broken
There must be a heaven somewhere
Where sorrow can never be spoken
I know there’s a heaven somewhere.
A beautiful, beautiful city with the saints that have gone on before.
I want to live in that bright city where we’ll praise Him for evermore.”
I know there is a prize on the other side so I keep running. You keep running too.