Anyone who lives in my part of the world right now knows that going outside comes along with a new dance – “the shoo gnat, don’t bother me” dance. It can be seen everywhere; flailing arms, waving hands, ducking heads. The dance is followed in later hours with scratching the itching bites that cover your ears and head. The good news is that reportedly these lovely critters will be gone in a couple of weeks.
As I headed out on my walk this morning, I donned my hat and my head netting. I had planned to walk 10 miles – the longest walk for me in a few months. I was unusually grateful for the strong breeze, as it tends to keep most of the gnats out of my face. Unfortunately that was not the case today. After a few miles of walking and battling the gnats, I almost decided to turn around and go home where I could walk on my treadmill inside without all of this aggravation and discomfort. But then, while listening to a sermon on suffering, I decided to press on!
God has called me to do this pilgrimage and He will equip me for it. He has lessons for me along the way, and learning to praise Him in the difficult times is a work in progress for me. So I determined this morning to thank God for the gnats. I’m trying to be grateful for all the trials that I am facing as I know that God is using them to shape my character.
About 5 minutes after I reached the half-way mark of my walk (my turn around point), a rain storm swept over me. I walked for about 1 mile in the pouring rain and blowing wind before I took cover under a tree and called my daughter to come pick me up. Soaked through and chilled, with 7 of my 10 miles done, I arrived home, changed into some dry clothes, and finished my walk on my treadmill – inside with no gnats. God knew that I didn’t have to endure 10 miles with them, but I certainly didn’t.
When God calls us to a task, it will generally require some sort of sacrifice. For me this has been a huge sacrifice of physical comfort. I want nothing more than a bowl of ice cream and a comfortable chair. Sure sounds a lot more inviting than hours of pain on the road. It has been a physical, spiritual and mental test, as I continue to struggle toward my goal. While I am in pain walking and pressing on in my effort to train my body in preparation for the pilgrimage, I think of the voluntary suffering of Christ for my behalf and am simply in awe. He suffered because of God’s purpose and call on His physical life. He suffered because of me – to save me. He has done the same for you.
I don’t know what God has asked you to do or what He has purposed you to do, but I do know that it will require that you sacrifice something you value. We must lay our wills down, surrender to His plan for our lives and take up our cross each and every day. He will meet you in the pain and/or the process and equip you for each next step. Look for the lessons and allow His Holy Spirit to mold your life.
Be encouraged. Press on.