This is what the LORD says: “Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the LORD. Jer. 9:23-24
When people travel longer than five hours to get from one location to another, travel weariness is understood. Though most of the trip is spent sitting, it is somehow still exhausting. Perhaps it has to do with the mental and psychological stresses, but whatever the reason, it is not uncommon to feel physically weary at the end of a long trip. My journey over the past couple of years, though no more newsworthy than a long car trip, has currently brought me to this place of travel weariness.
A couple of years ago, a video circulated on the internet of a father carrying his paraplegic son through an entire triathalon (maybe it was an ironman?). The son was secured on the bike, pulled in a raft and I think pushed in a racing wheel chair. Though the son wasn’t having to really do any of the labor involved in the race, it had to be taxing on him anyway. Perhaps a little saltwater in the eyes or up the nose, sunburn, windburn, a gnat in the eye or down the throat, and the pushing and pulling and bumping over each type of terrain would leave most people worn out. The applause at the finish line would be received with a full heart but also a very tired body.
I’m coming to understand this as a picture of the race I am in as God’s child. He is doing all the work, He is carrying me, He is making sure I get from start to finish and am not left on the side of the road or floating out to sea. And at the finish line, the applause belongs to Him and the victory of accomplishment is His alone to claim, yet He invites me to enjoy it fully with Him.
All of the work being accomplished by Him doesn’t mean I am doing nothing. I am moving along with Him, bumping along roads and through choppy waters with Him, getting sunburned at times, dyhydrated in moments, in need of a rest along the way and certainly at the end. But the “with Him”, like the boy strapped to his dad in the video, doesn’t mean He is in any way dependent upon my help in His efforts, but that I am utterly dependent upon Him.
I get to enjoy the applause, relish the crossing of the finish line, feel the love of the Father and the admiration of the fans. But with quiet satisfaction, I feel right and good about the clear reality that He has won the prize and is generously sharing it with me so I can feel what He feels and be with Him in it. I share in His sufferings, even if only mildly, that I may share in His reward.
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” Gal. 2:20-21
I set aside the grace of God when I assume I am the one staying on the bike, staying in the boat or staying in the wheel chair. I set aside the grace of God when I come to believe I am helping Him to win the race, or slowing down the race or that the applause belongs to me and my efforts and perseverence. Do I not matter? Of course I matter, why else would Jesus go through the agony of lugging my dead weight body, so to speak? As Jack Miller was recently quoted, “Your ability to enjoy the Father’s love for you is in direct proportion to your willingness to admit what a mess you are.” The more I begin to recognize my helpless estate, the more I am able to stand in wonder of His work rather than my own.