A mother and her young son were shopping in a supermarket when a man walked by them. As soon as he passed them his “beeper” went off.
The startled little boy exclaimed, “Look out, Mom — he’s backing up!”
Backing up is often a dangerous thing to do in several ways. When the way of life looks scary we are tempted to back up to the past where we’ve already been. The Bible is full of encouragement to keep moving forward.
The Apostle Paul in the Bible was mentoring his good friend Timothy when he said, “I have fought the good fight” and “finished the race.” He said God sustained him: “The Lord stood by me and gave me strength. …” (2 Timothy 4:7,17)
I have used those themes at a number of funerals for other folks who have “fought the good fight” and “run the race.” Many people have received strength from the Lord to face difficult situations. Lots of folks have responded to life by moving forward and making something very good for themselves and others.
There’s a good real-life illustration from several years ago. An airman’s plane crashed far up the Andes. The crash left him hurt and lost in deep snow and bitter cold. The airman learned the meaning of God’s sustaining help as he fought his way back from the frozen peaks to safety.
More than once he collapsed and a deceptive feeling to give up came over him. But he remembered that a person with God always has strength for one more step. As long as he kept in motion he was sustained.
Again and again he got to his feet after falling to take that one more step. Taking one step, he found he has the strength for another. Half frozen, but still erect, he stumbled at last into the warmth of a village, far below the frozen peak where his plane lay shattered.
Out of such experiences, repeated endlessly in the common places of life, comes the sustaining grace of faith. It may come to a mother, worn down by the toil and care of the day, finding strength for one more step to care for a sick child.
It may be a man, dog-tired, discouraged by a heartbreaking day without a single sale, wanting strength for one more call. It could be a physician, exhausted by a long night’s vigil with a patient, pleading for strength for one more step.
Paul, in the Bible, knew the truth of going forward. He had lived it in times of being bruised and hurt, wondering if he could take one more step. Paul learned, like many of us, we can go forward only with the strength of God.
Prayer: Our Lord, remind us to ask for your help not as a last resort. Give us strength to fight the good fight and run the race.
The Rev. Dan Safarik retired as a full-time pastor at St. Luke Methodist Church in Lincoln and now serves part time at St. Mark’s UMC in Lincoln. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Rev. Dan Safarik serves St. Luke United Methodist Church in Lincoln. Email him at email@example.com