The first time I went on an overnight back packing trip, some friends and I set out on a short 20-mile hike through Greenleaf State Park just outside of Braggs, OK. Half of us decided to hike and the other half decided to ride mountain bikes. We started our journey leaving the registration booth and set out on the first 10 miles before making it to our primitive camping spot.
About two miles into the hike we had to cross a highway bridge over a lake. Crossing this bridge was exciting. It had an incredible view, but the most exhilarating part was knowing that we were coming up to a point of no return. Now we were on the hike and committed. There was no quitting, there was just going. Over each hill, around every turn, with every bit of perspiration and with every step we were determined to make it to our campsite that evening!
We made it to our campsite, had many laughs, a great meal and an itchy rest due to some ticks. The next morning we woke up early, had breakfast, more laughs, and then we started our journey back. We retraced our steps and rediscovered the beauty of the trail, but as we took each step our legs became all the more tired. So much so that when we arrived back to that highway my fellow hikers decided they wanted to quit. When our friends on the mountain bikes caught up with us after they finished exploring another trail they were asked to ride back to the start and get a vehicle to pick them up. They were done before the end. They didn’t have any more fight in them. Let’s be clear about something. Hiking is enjoyable and the views can be amazing, but hiking is a fight. You fight everything within you that tells you to quit and go back. And sometimes that fight is so compelling that you literally want to throw in the towel.
As my friends were getting ready to drive off they asked, “Are you sure you don’t want a ride back?” I told them, “No, I’m going to finish the hike. It’s only two miles.” I really wanted to quit. I didn’t want to go anymore. That crucial moment reminds me of Paul when he says:
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7-8, NIV).
I have shared this story before. However, this time I want to ask a few questions in the context of Nehemiah 13:
- What happens when we don’t finish what we set out to do?
- What happens when we quit because it is hard? My friends that quit early never went out on another hike.
- What happens when the church quits?
- What happens when we don’t do what Jesus calls us to do?
This week as we wrap up our Nehemiah: Building on the Will of God series we will learn some important lessons. May we never quit and may we ”finish the race” and be ready when Jesus comes back!
Grace and Peace,