Some of you probably know this…but I’m a runner. I love running long distances, like my sweet spot is between an 8-10 mile run. I’m currently training for a 50K (a little over 31 miles) that I will be running on February 8th.
There are three important components to running (in my opinion): 1. Proper training is required (you don’t start out with a marathon). 2. You need good equipment (shoes, etc) 3. You must have adequate hydration and nutrition to persevere.
On one of my recent training runs I was feeling amazing! I was in Minnesota so it was cold, cold enough that my pony tail was frozen stiff and I had ice on my eye lashes, but the run felt wonderful. Until mile 15… when I hit the infamous runners wall. I was losing energy fast and I still had 7 miles to go. In my enjoyment of the run I had not hydrated properly and I had undernourished my body to have the energy to persevere on to mile 22. I completed that run, but let me tell you it was rough! Had my water bottle not frozen over and had I eaten enough during the run I probably would have come out of it on top.
Running in itself isn’t a spiritual experience, but there are some pretty great parallels to Christian life. As we prepare to serve overseas as missionaries we have had to have proper training (schooling etc.), We have needed to be equipped (spiritually), and we also have to tap into our source of hydration/nutrition (abiding) as sometimes the wall hits us as believers too.
This last week we hit the proverbial wall. I truly believe that we are pursuing something for the kingdom, and through it all we made the enemy pretty unhappy with us. It feels like spiritual warfare because the arrows keep on flying.
It started Monday when our 5 year old came down with the stomach bug. She had it bad, but bounced back after about 48 hours. We prayed specifically that we would be healthy enough to get through a ministry commitment on Tuesday and Wednesday, and God was faithful. But right after that our water pump went out, and then the stomach bug hit again with Zion (only no running water). At this point we are still taking it in stride, making homemade bleach wipes and hauling water from the pool to flush toilets. Maybe this is practice for Papua New Guinea?
Thursday afternoon when Zion was trying to recover from the stomach bug something happened with our family dog of 6 years and she ended up biting him in the face. I’m sure he accidentally did something to startle or hurt her, and 3-year old faces are right at eye level, because this was not a typical behavior for this animal. But the bite nearly took his eye, and brought us to the ER for sedation and stitches on his face. The poor kid looks like he was in a fist fight and it was traumatic, and awful but he will be ok. Had it been 1 mm different in location we could have had a very different outcome, so we are rejoicing in God’s protection.
So now our dog is under house arrest by the state of Delaware for 10 days, and we now need to find an adult only home for her. Previously a sweet friend with 3 kiddos was planning on adopting her when we went to PNG, but due to these circumstances everything is up in the air. Meanwhile, Wojtek manages to replace the water pump, so we have water! Praise the Lord!
Friday, the rest of the family went down with the stomach bug and Wojtek spiked a fever of 106.3. It was terrifying, but also logistically difficult to bring him to the ER when two others are sick in the home. So we prayed, and after some serious meds and cooling measures we got it down and were able to stay home. As a nurse I have never had a patient spike a fever that high, so it was pretty scary. But even in the midst of all this, having a kid get a bad dog bite, having no water, 5 sick people and a husband with a severe fever was so ironic that I had a massive laughing attack. Laugh or cry?? What choice do you have really…?
It felt like Satan knocked us on our butt and kept throwing things at us to see what our reaction would be. He wants us to be discouraged, he wants us to give up and stop striving for the Kingdom. He does NOT want us to reach 80% and pursue missions. All these things make him angry, and when he gets angry he will mess with your life.
But in all of this God’s hand was so evident…We got a reprieve in sickness for us to fulfil our ministry commitments. When Zion was in the ER they were planning on shipping him to a children’s hospital but it just so happened the plastic surgeon was at the ER and was able to see him. My very dear friend Elke who never works in pediatrics, AND who is a flex nurse just so happened to be there and was scheduled to be OUR nurse. Wojtek got the water turned on BEFORE he got sick. I even had a co-workers ask to change shifts with me before this all happened, which means I wasn’t working when all the craziness hit. My point is…in the midst of the fire, God’s work and His hand is so evident. We are never alone.
And neither are you! As believers we KNOW there will be trouble in this life. We know from 1 Peter 5:8 “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” but we also know that: “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” Romans 8:37
One of the songs that has just been incredible in this season is “He will hold me fast” by the Getty’s:
We also have tools in our toolbox! Just like the runner who hits the wall could combat it with nutrition and hydration to enable them to finish the race strong, as believers we have God’s Word and we have the spiritual armor. We do need to recognize an attack when it comes so that we fight with the proper tools.
Ephesians 6:11- Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.
Please pray with us for God to continue to use our family, for us to proceed on and hit 80% so that we can go and serve Him in Papua New Guinea. Pray for safety and protection as well. We have no way of knowing WHAT God will accomplish through our work there, but it seems evident that the enemy is fighting hard to keep that from happening, which makes us even more eager to go and see all that God plans to do through us.
Psalm 91: He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day