A lady whose house was in the path of a hurricane had heard on television that God answers prayer. Although a nonbeliever, she prayed that God would spare her house. After the hurricane swept through, she found that her house had been completely destroyed. She was devastated and angry that God had not spared her home. She wrote to a newspaper that she could not understand why God had not spared her home when Christians had said, "Just pray — your prayers will be answered." She wondered where God was. The editor responded, "I am not sure where God was, but He was probably responding to His regular customers."
We laugh because we are God's regular customers. Yet the Bible teaches that even regular customers will suffer difficulties. Remember several years ago, when the Dallas Cowboys were in the Super Bowl (well, more than a couple of years), one of Dallas' linemen recovered a fumble and raced toward the end zone. Before he crossed the end zone, he started dancing a bit and showboating with the ball. One of the opponents ripped the ball from his hands, and there was no touchdown. Do you remember his name? It was Leon Lett. The moral of the story — don't "let" up.
How do you not let up in the storms of life? Realize that life is not a sprint; it is a marathon, and that there are hills, curves, and detours. Hurricane force winds can knock you down. You can be going too fast or living recklessly and lose your balance. Fitness experts say that most injuries occur when running downhill, because people are moving too fast and lose their balance. Sometimes, we can even be knocked off balance by the regular customers.
Right before two young boxers began their championship match, the announcer called out the names of some former champs. "Mohammed Ali," he shouted, and Ali ran out while the crowd clapped. He shook hands with both contenders and waved to the crowd. "Smoking Joe Frazier, Sugar Ray Leonard!" And each ran through the crowd, waving and shaking hands with the contenders. These champions had gone before them. They had been there, bloodied and beaten, but now they were champions.
Hebrews tells us that the cloud of champion-witnesses have walked where you walk and have made it. You will, too. There are also those who are going through the hurricane now and will walk with you. If you have been through the hurricane, help those who are in the center. If you are going through it, there are those around who have been there. And if you have already experienced the winds and downpour, be there for someone else.
One Thanksgiving, my wife ran in the Dallas Turkey Trot. I didn't. The Cowboys play on Thanksgiving Day, and I didn't want to miss the boys. It was a long race, and I asked her when she returned if it was hard, difficult, awful, and exhausting. She told me no, that it was exhilarating and fun. There were thousands of people running together with boundless energy. God calls His people — who are running the race together — the church (which also comes with its share of trotting turkeys). We are to race together with boundless energy, encouraging each other. That is what it's about.
You may remember a championship football game a long time ago that became known as the Ice Bowl. Jerry Kramer described what it was like to be on the Green Bay Packers team as they drove down the field for a touchdown. He said that every play became more and more difficult. He was so weary and tired that he didn't think he could take another step. He was cold and could not feel his feet touch the field or feel his hands blocking. His body was telling him that he could not make another play. A time-out was called to plan a play to carry the ball into the end zone. Bart Starr called the play — a quarterback sneak right over Jerry Kramer. He said it was like his heart stopped. He wondered how he could make the block. He couldn't make another play. Then he heard from the people on the right yelling "Go!" Then the people in front yelled "Go!" Soon the whole stadium was reverberating "Go, Go, Go!" He said that all of a sudden his body was rejuvenated, and he knew he would make the block. If you are a Cowboy fan like me, you know he made that block.
There are a lot of discouraged and weary pastors in church land. Satan is whispering in their ear. "No, No! You can't finish. Don't run this race. Give up." Remember to listen to the great cloud of witnesses who are saying "Go, Go! You can make it." This Thanksgiving, people will cheer for their football teams. Let's remember our team and become a great crowd of witnesses.
Find discouraged regular customers battered by a church hurricane and help them get their Power back.
Charles Lowery is founder and president of LIFE, Inc. and is in a fulltime speaking ministry. You may contact LIFE, Inc. at 469-892-0098 or www.charleslowery.com.