Monday, October 5, 2009

Everybody Hits "The Wall"

Marathon runners call it "hitting the wall" - that moment when the body suddenly decides it has had enough. Everything, every muscle, every organ, every fiber in the runner's body cries out to stop. Please, not another step. Runners know if they can overcome"the wall," their bodies will adjust and get a second wind. Often, they can finish the race stronger than when they began. They just have to get past "the wall."
In the ministry, everybody hits "the wall." It is that moment when the pastor and his family are tempted to think they cannot go on any further; when the burdens have become too much; the stress too great; the heartache more than the heart can bear.
I read a letter like that just yesterday. It came from a young missionary wife and mother in Africa. She and her husband are on the field for the very first time. Being away from home is one thing, but they are thousands of miles from everything familiar to them. The adjustments are astronomical. They are not so alone from people, but they are very alone from ordinary things. Now the husband is sick, very sick and his situation has not improved as of this moment. His wife writes, "I'm having one of those 'I hate Africa' moments." In reality, neither of them hate Africa. In fact, they have been willing to change their entire lives just for Africa, and the opportunity to reach Africans with the gospel. But they have hit the wall.
We all hit the wall. The ministry becomes work, a burden. It's not fun anymore. The headaches are too much. People are too much. The sacrifices mount to the point that all we can see are our problems, and we are tempted - very tempted - to cave. One pastor I knew became so frustrated with his church that he told another pastor, "You want 'em? You can have them" and stomped out of the ministry entirely.
We have to remember that if we refocus on the Lord, we can get past "the wall." Life will go on, not always better, maybe not the same, usually not what we expected, but life will go on. Often, I have found that some unexpected blessing will come if I just do not quit. It is part of that "reaping if we do not faint." There is life beyond "the wall" - a second wind, a harvest ahead, and the finish line. The preacher's life is never a sprint, always a marathon.

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