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Previous Challenge Entry
Topic: Endurance (03/22/04)

TITLE: See Ya at the Finish Line!!
By Christine Rhee
03/23/04

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Could it be I¡¯m going to make it?
Could it be I¡¯ll make the time?
Could it be I¡¯ll run fast enough
To make the time of minutes, nine?

Faster, Faster
Slower, slower,
I am running out of breath.
If I make it I¡¯ll see the glory
Shimmering down on me.

Such were my sentiments surrounding our junior high nine-minute mile runs, all those years ago. They were held every Friday morning, without fail.

How many times in my life have I been as I was during those treks around the track, laboring to suck in air, aching in every muscle, exhausted, and at times, bedridden with a resulting respiratory infection?

More times than I can count, and this is to be expected. As humans, we are in the midst of a spiritual battle, and life can hit pretty hard at times.

Paul had a reason for encouraging us to run with endurance. This race isn¡¯t easy, and there is a lot to be endured. Every runner can count on that.

If we have to endure the agony, how can we do so victoriously?

First, let¡¯s learn to practice the presence of Jesus. From this we can grow to understand that Jesus is bigger than any burden, sweeter than any bitterness, more soothing than any pain.

Chinese Brother Yun (The Heavenly Man, by Paul Hattaway) gives us the best example of this I know. He said, ¡°Don¡¯t feel sorry for us in China because we are persecuted. We feel sorry for the Western Church that doesn¡¯t know the presence of Jesus.¡±

We, too, can learn to practice the presence of Jesus, when we immerse ourselves in
Scripture, pray about everything, become deeply involved with God¡¯s people, and
reach out to others.

Next, we can watch for the ways God demonstrates His love and care for us during particularly difficult in our lives times, and then boast in the Lord!

We were understandably excited to welcome our third son, Benjamin, into our family, but we were also feeling pretty homesick, being so far away from home. But we asked God to show us His love and care during that time.

And boy, did He ever!! The midwife at the hospital who gave Ben his first bath was
one of the mothers from our school. Our school secretary called the hospital to see
how the birth was progressing twenty minutes after our bundle of joy entered the world! She sent my close friend to tell our older sons that their new little brother was here, and she was able to witness the sheer joy on their faces. Another close friend came from out of town to stay with us and help out for our first week out of the hospital.

Experiencing God¡¯s love, care, and nurture can strengthen our hearts and our resolve to stay in the race.

Finally, the fun part. We need to squeeze all the joy out of life that we can. We can do this if we seek time to enjoy relationships, find simple humor in every-day situations, learn to laugh at ourselves, and share our laughter with others.

Barbara Johnson¡¯s books are full of funnies she tells on herself. One evening during a particularly dark time in my life, I was reading one of her books on the way to church. I got a big chuckle over a story she related, when she had to wear wet panty hose on a plane in order to catch a last-minute flight!

But it turned out that the joke was actually on me!! That night, I was to play my flute
in the service. Just before I was to play, I contracted the hiccups. Try as I might, I
couldn¡¯t get rid of them!

I hoped that the extra oxygen I would be inhaling as I played would do the trick. WRONG!! It soon became evident that it was making the hiccups bigger, not smaller!! I started to imagine that I looked drunk, with the big HIC¡¯s interspersed among the melody. I felt so silly that I started to giggle, right up there on the platform. Thankfully the church saw the humor, too.

So in short, yes, we have a long race to run. But we have the promise of victory at the end (what other runner can say that?) and plenty of geraniums along the way! So let¡¯s run with endurance as we cheer each other on¡¦¡¦¡¦..

And I¡¯ll see ya at the finish line!!


Member Comments
Member Date
Dori Knight03/30/04
and i will be there, cheering you on. thanks for this uplifting piece - it was refreshing! good start, great flow, perfectly timed ending . . . a real gem!
Dave Wagner03/30/04
First, let’s learn to practice the presence of Jesus.

Excellent advice. In fact, if you only knew how deeply this resonated with me…this is the hope that is set before me, in ways I cannot go into here. Perhaps in another venue…

Experiencing God’s love, care, and nurture can strengthen our hearts and our resolve to stay in the race.

Again, excellent advice, and a true key. Well illustrated too.

We need to squeeze all the joy out of life that we can.

This I have a rather substantial problem with. I think I realize what you are trying to say, but making this a focus seems a sure-fire way to achieve a “hit-and-miss” Christian walk. Often, the Road is just plain hard…and searching here and there for joy can quickly distract and lead to compromise, and a longer stay in the “just plain hard” stretch. Not always, I know…but with this one, you need to be very, very careful, since the potential pitfalls are many. Humor and fun has its place, but it certainly isn’t a primary focus, on par with the other two pieces of advice you offer. I’m not trying to sound glum; I’m just trying to be realistic. I’ve had my share of joyless situations where “gritting it through” is required, not searching for a way to take the edge off.

All things considered, I really like the piece. One of the best I've read so far, in spite of the little character glitches with the apostrophes, etc. Good work.
Corinne Smelker 03/31/04
Chris
This was an encouragement to me. Well written, with some solid, sound advice
Christine Rhee03/31/04
Thanks, everyone! It was fun to get up this morning and read these comments.
Dave, I agree with you that if, as Christians, having fun is our focus, we have a hard fall ahead of us. Many parts of life are not fun. That's why FIRST we need to seek Jesus, then watch for His love and care...and after that, look for the joy (which is different than fun). God's joy is present even when life isn't fun. I think this could be something we can truly understand once we've come to the place where the choice is between crawling into bed and spending each day counting the flowers on the wallpaper (B. Johnson), or somehow, finding a way to go on with life...joy (after seeking Jesus and his live and nurture) can help us find the strength to do that. Because there is an end to teeth-gritting strength. I've been there. :) Oh, yeah! And sorry about the alien characters....it's that Korean font on our computer again...
Blessings to all,
Chris
PS: In the end, it was my giggling, and not my teeth gritting, that got rid of my hiccups! heh! heh!
Donna Anderson04/01/04
The JOY of the Lord IS our strength which helps us endure and overcome and reach the 'prize' that brings us joy..............! Joy is not always a 'fun or happy' feeling, it is the jewel that adorns our armour as we face the enevitable battles of life.
V-I-C-T-O-R-Y V-I-C-T-O-R-Y IS OUR CRY! :)
Lynne Cox04/01/04
I'll be waiting for ya, Chris, right at the finish line! And if you have hiccups, we can laugh together. I really enjoyed this article, and it was nice to know that you were surrounded by love and support when the baby was born. Hugs to you from me.
Dori Knight04/03/04
well then chris, what better complement could you ask for, than to have written a piece so thought provoking that it inspires conversation? so very well done!

btw - joy and humor are two completely different animals (so saith the humorist).

when we are walking through a dark patch, it may not necessarily be appropriate to joke about and be humorous, but we darn sure better look for the joy in it.

"my brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials" james 1:2

just my two cents.

this one is a top contender for my vote this week, chris!
Linda Germain 04/03/04
I loved this, Chris! The JOY of the Lord is akin to your blood type. If you have A+ blood flowing through your veins,it sustains you even in the face of mind-blowing pain (physical and emotional...been there, done that)). Humor is the merry heart that doeth good like a medicine. In the article,"Laughteritis", it was my point that no one actually ever died- laughing. (Well, maybe one or two...)Bottom line: The JOY of the Lord courses through us, sustaining even through the pain. While Humor comes and goes,JOY feeds our spirits. Joy is chronic...humor is acute!

p.s. When our dear Chris gets back in the USA, her letters won't squiggle, you'll see!! :0)
Kenny Paul Clarkson04/04/04

Wonderful article. I'm assuming you're chinese?