With a heavy metal bar uncomfortably resting on your tired shoulders, you squat down one more time as your legs turn to Jell-O. A bead of sweat drips over your eye brow and down your rosy cheek. “I can’t do any more,” you tell him through salty lips. “I didn’t tell you this was going to be easy”, he replies, “but I promise you it’s worth it. Now let’s do one more. You’ve got this!”
Have you ever paid for a personal trainer? If so, you probably understand that in order for muscle to grow, it has to be broken down. You also understand that training sessions aren’t always fun and most definitely not easy, but your trainer probably warned you about that. You understand the feeling of being half way through a work out and wanting to quit. You’ve also experienced your trainer come along side you, encourage you, and even push you; your trainer has never left your side. And after your entire workout plan, made up of several grueling sessions, comes to end, you strangely find yourself thanking your trainer. Why? Because they believed in you when you didn’t believe in yourself. They pushed you to limits you never thought you could reach. And you’re much stronger now than you were when you began. You might even say you’re on a high.
Isn’t that the best feeling…when the hard times are over? When you can look back and see how far you’ve come. At times I find myself wishing life was easier and that horrible things never had to happen. Those times usually occur when I’m stuck in the middle of a hard situation. However, when I experience God carry me through a difficult time and come out victorious, now that’s different. Then I feel empowered, and thankfully in awe of all God taught me and the ways He moved through me.
Maybe like me, your current training session isn’t over yet. You’re smack dab in the middle of the sweat and tears. Don’t lose heart. God will not not leave you. He’s not giving you more than you can handle either. He’s in this with you. And if your current session just came to an end, and you’ve witnessed God’s work and glory, then take Joy in knowing He is faithful. Come alongside someone that can’t yet see the end result and offer words of encouragement or even a hand. After all, we’re all in this together.
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
After making my way through Costco and checkout lines resembling the holidays [with both kids], I decided we needed some lunch. I wanted to grab it and go [get the heck out of there], but my three-year-old really wanted to make a date of it and sit there in the food court with our gluten-free, organic, grass-fed, all-beef hotdogs [Ok, just hotdogs].
“Honey, there’s no where to sit,” I sadly [gladly] told her.
Sure enough, she found the one table in the entire food court with people cleaning up to leave. Reluctantly, I agreed to stay. After all, the table was on the outskirts of the food circus [I mean food court] so how bad could it be? If I had to eat lunch with two kids in a super crowded area, it’s the table I would have chosen.
I pushed our cart right up next to the now-empty table, told my daughter to sit still, and hopped in line. The food line was just as long as the checkout lines, but the kids were close and in plain sight so I made sure to keep my eyes on them the entire time.
Right before I finally stepped up to the counter to order our food, I noticed a slightly older lady get up from a crowded table and walk towards our table with food in hand and two little girls, who I assumed were her grandchildren. Surely they weren’t going to steal our [clearly reserved] table, I thought.
Next thing I knew I was getting weird looks from my confused daughter as she watched these strangers shimmy their way into our table. All I could think was, “Oh great, I just waited in line for this long only to have someone take our only spot to sit. Is there any possible way she didn’t realize that the reason the cart [with kids in it] was pushed up [practically over] the table was so that their mother could join them once she returned with the food?”
Maybe I just don’t know all the Costco rules, but this lady had just messed with an impatient, sleep-deprived mother who just wanted to eat her hotdog in peace [or something like that]. I eventually wandered back up to the [our] table, and the lady just kept eating like nothing happened. When she finally poked her head up out of her lunch, I just smiled in an I’m-confused-why-you’re-sitting-in-our-table kind of way. She looked at me, and the food piled up in my hands, and then at the kids in the cart.
“Do you want to join us?” she asked. “We can scoot over.” And she started to move and make room for us [at our own table].
Ok, ok…You get the point. In that moment it was as if God was holding a mirror up to my face so that I could see how ridiculous I was acting. My ruffled feathers started to lay flat, and I stopped pretending to be a toddler whose toy [that didn’t actually belong to them in the first place] had just gotten snagged. Against my desire, I started to uncomfortably set our food down on the [Costco] table with our new acquaintances. I decided to just make the best of the awkward circumstance when suddenly a table nearby opened up. We told them thank you, but we would take the new table and give them their space back.
Sometimes God speaks me to in my dreams or while I’m basking in the sunshine, but other times it’s through a hotdog. I began thinking about the whole scenario, and what may have been going on in that lady’s day- or even life. I thought about the fact that every day we have interactions with various people allowing us to show them [or not show them] Jesus. I gave myself a C- for the day [and that may have been generous]. “They will know we are Christians by our love” the song says. Sometimes, if I’m being completely honest, I’m glad I don’t have Christian stamped on my forehead because I’m not always a good example of that title, and I can fly under the radar on a bad day. [Or can I?] I think it’s important to remember that even if other people aren’t necessarily watching us, God always is. Are we making Him proud?