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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Eternity (03/10/11)

TITLE: Getting to the End Zone
By Lillian Rhoades
03/16/11


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Getting to the End Zone

Chances are that during a long car ride with children in the back sit, you will inevitably hear the words at least once. I used to think kids had a monopoly on them, or at least held the copyright.

However, that opinion quickly changed when one day I pre-empted their copyright and broke the monopoly. After an unusually long ride, to my surprise, I heard myself posing the all too familiar query.

Are we there yet?

Long trips have a way of testing one’s endurance. Eventually, impatience prevails, and when impatience has its way, that inimical refrain knows no restraint, encompasses all ages, and is subject to pop up under many different circumstances. Much to my shame, I’ve entertained the words more often than my kids have said them, and I'm pressed to consider how many times I've asked God the same question.

God, am I there yet? Have I finally reached the place you had in mine for me?

It’s a question most Christians ask in one form or another.

Lord, when will this trial end?

And who has not said, “I’m so stressed. I just can’t take another thing?”

Recently, I endured a stress test, and I emphasize every nuance endurance implies. A stress test really lives up to its name. When my pulse rate reached 78, the impetus to continue reached an all time high. By the time the rate hit 100 that determination began to wane, and I needed to hear the nurse's words, " You can do it.”

I wasn’t there yet.

The goal was 120.

No one thought to blindfold me so that I could not see how far I had to go. Each time the needle dipped, my will took a dive. Could I hit the intended goal? By “stressing” along, somehow, I did.

In some ways, a stress test reminds me of the Christian pilgrimage. As the years roll along, I’ve begun to center on endurance in my Christian journey, rather than on the goal. Most likely, this idea side steps conventional thought where Christians are encouraged to concentrate on eternity and to view this journey as short-term. While our goal is to reach heaven and to spend eternity there, our spiritual journey often times seems unbearably stress laden. So, to reach the goal, we must focus on getting there. We must first fight the battle before we can gain the crown.

We have to keep driving, or we’ll never get there.

What does it take to reach the place God has prepared for those that love Him?

Perhaps you’ve heard the story of the missionary who had served many years on foreign soil. Now, after many years on the field and having faced all kinds of hardship, sick and weary, and no longer able to serve, he boarded a ship for home. When the ship docked, he debarked and looked around hoping to see a familiar face. After all, most of the passengers had someone there to welcome them home.

He had no one.

Standing there, feeling lost and alone, God gently whispered to him.

Don’t worry, you’re not home yet.

With all the hardship he endured while serving on the mission field, God was still not ready to say, “You’ve arrived, the long ride is over. Welcome to you Eternal Home! ”

In a children’s version of Paul Bunyan's Classic, Pilgrim’s Progress, Standfast is about to enter the Celestial City. “Mine,” he says, “has been a hard pilgrimage, and I have had to fight my way through many troubles and dangers."

The Apostle Paul says, “I press towards the mark.”

He was not there yet.

Is it possible that God’s eye is also on our journey? Perhaps, He wants us to understand that as hard as it may seem, we're driving in the right direction, and we must be ready to accept whatever pot holes of hardship that hamper our journey; and the downpour of unexpected trials that blur our vision. He’s putting us through an endurance test.

We’re not there, yet.

When we’ve reached the goal, we’ll be surprised at how well our journey prepared us to spend an eternity in the end zone.


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This article has been read 588 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Sarah Elisabeth 03/18/11
Great reminder for us all!

I think if you stick with one story, one comparative thought, it would have been a little easier read, and really drove home your main point.

Thanks for the encouraging word.
Michael Throne03/18/11
I found this inspiring. I especially enjoyed the story about the missionary. As they say, it’s not over until it’s over! The point the story makes is a good one.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 03/18/11
This gives me o bet to think about. The next time I'm calling out to God because of my chronic illness/ pain ' I'll remember your words.
Rachel Phelps03/19/11
This is a twist on the topic - I'm not sure what the judges will say. I agree with Sarah that one comparative thought would have made this piece stronger, but you gave us much to mull over. Well done.
Sydney Avey03/26/11
Side-stepping conventional thought is what we as writers should be doing. You did it well. Thank you.
Bonnie Bowden04/06/11
I had a stress test not too long ago myself. It was very grueling. I liked your concept, "Are we there yet." Very thought provoking message.

Congratulations on your EC award.
Carol Penhorwood 04/21/11
Your beautiful words resonated within me, perhaps especially so because I have been reading Brother Lawrence's book again, The Practice of the Presence of God.

He has much to say about illness as well.