Many parents are familar with the ever-energetic child who always is running ahead of the rest of the family. Those little "monkeys on their back" where you hold the tail to keep track of a child prone to wander is a wonderful solution, in my humble opinion. We used "hand holders" in the 1980s - you remember, they velcroed on the child's and parent's wrist and had a twisty cord in between - when my daughter was young. I loved it in airports when she and I flew, as well as in shopping malls.
Running ahead in the adult world takes on an entirely different meaning, however. By "running ahead," I am thinking of those of you who have been through difficulties, trials, heartaches and loss, but have kept your spirit and survived. You are survivors. My friend from college sent out a note this week on Facebook, "We are Survivors." This dear woman's husband took his own life this past year. Without giving the details, please know this was a traumatic and horrible experience, loss and adversity to face.
However, I've seen her face it with courage, transparancy, faith, determination and yes, even joy. Instead of allowing this huge loss to defeat her and her two children, she is determined to bring joy into their lives as well as their friends' lives. She has reached out for help, but she has given it along the way, too.
You see, it is when we are weak, that God is strong, and He shows his strength through us. I know for a fact my friend traveled many, many miles on the spur of the moment to support a friend who had a major crisis in a far-away city. Is she taking time to grieve? Oh yeah! But is she already "calling back" and helping others. Absolutely.
There is nothing like walking in the woods and being lost, I am told. It is a bewildering experience, to say the least. Trying to decide which path or direction to take can overwhelm a person; however, when you are lost in the woods and you hear voices calling out in front of you, "over here," "this way," "follow my voice," follow them. Oh, the relief that washes over and saturates your entire being. You think "oh, OK, that is the way out, thank God!"
My friends, many of you are "running ahead" right now. You are facing a major catastrophe, burden, heartache, sickness or loss, but instead of cocooning your life away in mourning your situation, you are blazing a trail and running ahead, calling, "OK, I've made it and so can you." Taking time to grieve is good and right. However, wallowing in self-pity or lying down to die is not.
You simply must get back up and run ahead. There are people in your "now" as well as your future that need to be taught what you are learning. The old saying, "What doesn't kill you will make you stronger," has some truth in it. We must keep running ahead and calling back. By that, I mean living and making others your focus instead of
Sometimes, we go through things we think no one in the world ever has or will ever go through. Many go through secret trials and circumstances and think no one ever has walked this way before, but I am here to tell you at this ripe ol' age that the Bible is true when the writer penned, "There is nothing new under the sun." There will be people in your path who need your experience, resilence, character and faith to follow when they go through what you are going through or something entirely different. It doesn't seem to matter the exact situation, but what matters is suffering has a purpose and one of the purposes is to comfort others with the same comfort that we are comforted by God.
When I taught in the Christian school when I was in my 20s, and after my husband died, I made others my focus - no brag, just fact - lest I drown in my sorrow. Others became a catharsis for me, and God became a husband and I had joy. I had joy that I can not explain or even understand. I taught in the school and had a bus route for church. I loved my bus kids. Kristin - my then-3 year-old daughter - always said some of her favorite memories are of she and I visiting these kids, bringing them food, toys at Christmas and singing songs on the bus on the way to church. Running ahead, I was running ahead of these kids and did not even know it. My spritual mentor was running ahead of me and calling out, "You can do it, Kim. I'm proud of you. You're going to make it, and God's going to use you." And she prayed diligently, too. You may not think calling "back" to someone today has much effect on their life, but prayers, words of encouragement, a life well-lived before them, a kind touch, a listening ear and a sensitive heart, may mean the world to someone who is hurting. It also teaches the next generation how to live. We can teach and talk until we are blue in the face, but running ahead and calling back to them as well as by living a godly life before them is where true learning comes into play.
I remember now the story of an army officer who was in the thick of battle. He surveyed the bodies of young men lying around and saw his very own son lying dead.
His heart literally broke as he longed to drape himself over him and weep.
However, the battle waged on. He bent over and kissed his son and ran to fight on.
George Matheson said, " There is no burial of sorrow so difficult as that; it is the 'running with patience.' Men ask for a rainbow in the cloud; but I would ask more from thee. I would be, in my own cloud, myself a rainbow-a minister to other's joy."