I remember a church picnic Tricia and I went to in my hometown of Kamloops, B.C. many years ago. The festivities included a three-legged race. At that time we were still childless (not to mention young and spry), so we joined in. Tricia is not accustomed to athletic competition, so it was just fun for her. As for me, I wanted to win. Sizing up the competition, I thought our chances looked pretty good. Two guys were holding a ribbon across the field about 30 yards away for the finish line. Somebody yelled “GO!” and we were off.
We jumped out to a quick lead. We had perfect sync and rhythm, crucial in three-legged races. We approached the yellow ribbon, victory in sight. But then, just as we were about to cross the finish line, it started moving. Away from us. Little did I know that the guys holding the ribbon had devised a nefarious plot to frustrate the contestants by moving the line just before the would-be winners crossed it. Apparently they thought it was pretty funny. I didn’t, really.
Life can be like that sometimes. There have been several times in the last two years as we were trying to get back to Hungary that it seemed like the finish line was moving away from us. I’m slowly learning that how we respond to moving finish lines is what is important. When God moves the finish line on us, it isn’t to play a joke. It’s to teach us something important.
The first lesson is to remind yourself of what you know and not to worry about what you don’t. You don’t know when God will let you out of your present circumstances, but you do know that He’s at work in your life in the midst of them. Don’t lose sight of that. The second lesson is to keep fighting the battle against discouragement. Discouragement is a tireless and relentless foe. Galatians 6:9 says “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” This is a promise with a condition. We will reap if we do not give up.
It is a lot easier to keep going when we know how long the test will last. But when the finish line starts moving on you, it’s a bit more challenging. The call to faith is the call to trust God that He knows how long it will last. And even when you think you can’t go another step, you still can by His grace.