I recently read a quote by Booker T. Washington, “There are two ways of exerting one's strength; one is pushing down,
the other is pulling up.”
No one could have experienced more the feeling of being pushed down than Booker T. Washington. Born as a slave, Booker T. Washington spent his early years in a slave cabin, his mother a slave, his father a white man from a nearby farm. Booker’s life took an up turn when Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation and the slave boy became a free one. Traveling with his mother to reunite with his stepfather in West Virginia, Booker took a job in a salt mine beginning at 4:00 am so his afternoons would be free to go to school. Down during the early morning in the mine, Booker dreamed of being up in the day the salt of the mines only increasing his thirst for an education.
Thirsting for an education; as a teacher for over twenty-six years, I have had the privilege of seeing students who thirst and the disappointment of seeing students apathetic, lazy, and unappreciative of the opportunity to learn. What about the Word? What kind of a student are you?
Are we the students of His Word, do we thirst for Him, the way Booker thirsted for worldly knowledge? Or are we so bound by the ups and downs of the economy, the news, our work, that the thirst has been lost and we accept that we have become dehydrated, but don’t have the desire to drink?
Where is your strength today? Are you exerting it by pushing down on yourself or on others? Are you down in a pit of apathy, self-centeredness and rather than use your strength to pull out, you just keep pushing down.
Jesus met a woman at a well. She thirsted, she sought out the well. She was not perfect, not even close. She had experienced being put down, pushed around, and pushed down. And then she met a Him, left her water pots, emboldened to look up she became his messenger in a city in which she was the “downest of the down.” “Come; see a man, which told me all things ever I did: is not this the Christ?”
I am reminded of a movie in which one of the recruits for the Naval pilot program was a young lady. In the many set of physical challenges was an obstacle course. On that course was a wall that she had to climb over to pass the obstacle course one of the physical requirements. She had passed and even excelled in some of the physical challenges, but “walking the wall”, kept her from passing the course. When liberty came for the other candidates in her unit, she remained behind, practicing pull-ups to make her stronger for the next obstacle course run.
What are doing to make you stronger in Him? Are you practicing your
“pull-ups”. How can you get out of the pit without the strength? Dedicate yourself to some spiritual exercise. I guarantee if you pull out the Word, it will lift you up and He will make you stronger.
In one of the final scenes of the movie, the obstacle course is tackled by the recruits for final time. As she hits the wall, a fellow candidate who is running for the course record, quickly scales the wall and passes her by. In tears she drops down and it looks as thought the wall will defeat her chances of being a naval pilot. But the young man returns, passing up his chances to set a record, for the sake of his fellow and future officer, he encourages, demonstrates, and together they pull up and over the wall.
Isn’t that just like Him? When we look like we are going down in defeat, He comes along side us and yells, “walk that wall” brother or sister. Like Booker T. or the woman at the well or you and me, He says, I am here to lift you up where you belong.
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