Due to an old Boyz II Men fascination, I wanted to call this the “End of the Road”, and although that fits, I thought End of the Rope was better. You know, that day, that moment, when you feel like you’re hanging on to the last bit of the rope you have with the last bit of strength you possess. And you have no idea what will happen when you can’t hold on any longer, but you’re terrified of it. I think most of us have been there. And I think some of you, like me, live there. I keep wondering, “God, when is the break coming?” There is always something else to do. Always another load to be carried. Another challenge to be attempted. Another trial to be endured. Being a husband doesn’t take a pause for refreshment. There’s no halftime to parenting. Careers don’t take into account what you have left to give. Bills don’t take months off, even if your career does. I understand that God is shaping me, but it seems like some rest might shape me, too.
So for some reason, I remembered this song today. I heard it playing at a DNow we led in Batesville, MS, this spring. I had to go ask the sound guy what it was. It’s called “Worth It All” by Rita Springer. Now I’m a cynical guy. And when I’m in the midst of a tough time, and someone says something like, “It’s going to be worth it,” I just look at them and say, “Really? Is that the best you could come up with? Please go find someone who falls for your cliches, maybe you can help them.” It’s like when you’re going through a break-up and people come up and say, “This just means God has someone even better out there for you.” That may be true (it was for me), but it doesn’t change how I feel right then. It just makes me want to punch them. And sometimes that makes me feel better. But I have to admit, there is something about this song. It’s a worship song that somehow takes those old words and wrings the truth out of them. Somehow it takes an overused phrase and reminds me that it really will be worth it.
We weren’t created for 80 years. We were created for eternity. So why do I always think that I will find the finish line here? Why do I think I will be fulfilled here? That’s what heaven is for. Can I believe that God intimately knows every struggle I have and purposes them for my good? Do I think He has forgotten me? Do I think He doesn’t care? Doesn’t notice? Because that’s not the God I know. But the God I know may let me fall so that I will learn to run. Imagine holding your child’s bike up straight as they were learning to ride. Or your friend’s bike, if you’re a kid. But now imagine that as they get older, you continue to hold their bike; you keep them upright. Always. They get so good that finally they enter the Tour de France. But there, due to rules and such, you are not allowed to help them. And while they have grown up and their legs are strong, they have no balance. So they crash 5 yards from the starting line and are the hit of YouTube for that week. The question is: Did your protection of them help them or hinder them? Was that really love? I think God really loves me and cheers me on, even when I fall.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” – Hebrews 12:1-2 (ESV)
Right now, there are many days where I don’t think I have the strength to take one more step in this race. I’m going to have to lay down. To quit. And I don’t even know how to do that. But this summer I was reading Martin Luther and he said that when we study the Bible we have to understand the terms. We have to know what the author meant by that word, not what it means in our culture. For me, one of those words was “faith”. I’ve read the beginning of Hebrews for years, and I always read the word “faith” as religion. The Christian faith. Jesus is the author and perfecter of the Christian faith, Christianity. But that’s not what the writer of Hebrews meant. He meant “faith”, like trust, dependence. I’ve been trying to learn dependence. To do a better job of leaning on Jesus. But I’m still the one doing it. This verse clearly says that the start and the finish of my dependence is Jesus. Not me. Even when I’m trying to hold on to the end of the rope, the start and the end of my holding on is Jesus. Jesus is the author of faith; He created it, He made it up, He started it. And He’s not just the author of faith in general, He is the author of MY faith. And He is the perfecter of my faith. It was never up to me to perfect my holding on, it was up to Him. (Trying to avoid a “Still Has A Hold” reference here.)
So when you get to the end of the rope, remember that the One who is holding on to you made the rope. He knows how strong and weak you are. And He has a reward for you beyond anything you can imagine. And with no cliche, it will be worth it all.