Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Straining to the End - Martin Wiles

I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. Philippians 3:14 NLT

Every step brought pain, but she stepped anyway.

Flat Laurel Creek Trail, near the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina, is appropriately named. Trails over 5,000 feet aren’t usually flat, especially in the mountains. This one meanders above 5200 feet in elevation and maintains an almost level path. And my brother, his girlfriend, my wife, and I planned to hike it.

Although the calendar said November, the weather was mild. We donned our packs, hiking sticks, and shoes and headed out. Recent rains had swollen the main creek, along with its tributaries. The hike started badly for my wife when she missed a rock crossing Bubbles Creek and landed with both feet in the water. Rocks and mud littered the trail, making walking difficult.

As we inched along, I observed my wife’s face. Pain etched its mark with every step she took. Tears fell, sweat flowed, and feet stumbled, but she kept going. While an easy hike for three of us, it wasn’t for her. Degenerative arthritis makes her walking painful—and even more so when the steps are uneven because of rocky terrain.

Due to my wife’s tenacity, we made it to the end—just as Paul intended to do. Since God had called and commissioned him on the road to Damascus, he had pressed on with fervor. His goal? Making sure everyone he encountered heard about the saving grace of Jesus Christ.

Jesus said His yoke and burden were easy to carry (Matthew 11:30), but it doesn’t always seem that way. The call to serve often involves walking over rocky and uncertain surfaces. What makes the burden of doing so easy—and what gives me the ability to keep pressing on—is the power of God’s Spirit in me.

Nor is living the holy lifestyle God commands always convenient. Temptations abound. Ones that would draw me into choices and lifestyles better left alone. Only by God’s power can I press on without giving in.

God empowers me to reach the end, and to do so without injury or depletion of energy. My willpower plus His Spirit ensures my pressing on will be rewarded. With prayer, guidance from His Word, accountability partners, wise choices, and encouragement from others, God’s children can press on to the end successfully.

Don’t let anything or anyone hold you back from straining to your appointed end.

Prayer: Father, we desire to make it to the end and hear You say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

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