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The Extra Mile
If you happen to talk to anyone who knows me well, they would tell you that patience is not a virtue I have. It is not uncommon for me to deliver birthday and Christmas presents to my loved ones a day or two early because I am just that excited and not patient enough to wait for the right time. You may have heard the saying, “The last mile is the longest.” Whether it’s the physical metric of a mile at the end of a marathon, or the metaphorical end of a significant or long journey, the message is the same. As we approach the end of something, there is a sense of restlessness that many of us may face both physically and mentally. This may be a positive form of anticipation such as excitement; but it may also be a negative form such as anxiousness or perhaps a combination of two.
COVID-19 has certainly not disappeared just yet, and probably won’t for a while, but for many people, particularly those who have been vaccinated, things may start to vaguely resemble a life pre-pandemic. If you’re anything like me, you may be feeling a bit antsy as you’re waiting for the world to be safe enough to wander into again without a mask. Perhaps you’re waiting for your second shot of the vaccine so that you can safely gather with your loved ones. Or maybe you’re nervous about what life will look like in a world recovering from and adjusting to the short and long-term effects of a global pandemic.
As I reflect on this current state of the world as we slowly inch towards normalcy, I am reminded of the story of Job from the Old Testament. Job was a man who started out with just about everything he could wish for: a wife, a house, kids, a job, good health. But just a few chapters into the book of Job, we learn that he quickly loses everything that he loves and cares for. Despite his friends, and even his wife, encouraging him to give up hope on his faith and his God, Job holds on. It is not difficult to see how this story can teach us a lesson about “having faith” and “being patient with God and God’s will.” However, as I spent time reflecting on this story, something else stuck out to me even more.
As I wonder about how Job hung on to his faith even after losing everything, I think about all of our neighbors near and far who have lost similar things during the past year-and-a-half. Many have lost loved ones, young and old. Many have lost their businesses and jobs. Some have lost homes, security, mental and physical health and strength. Some lost many of these things all at once as the pandemic relentlessly spread across the globe. While some of us may be fortunate enough to come out of this journey relatively unscathed, there are those who will struggle for much longer, even after the pandemic has long disappeared.
As we all have probably come to learn, our work as the hands and feet of Christ is never complete. God is calling us to finish up this “last mile” we have left. To continue to make decisions and act in ways that we keep us and our neighbors safe until we are all vaccinated and free. But that’s not the end. As followers of Christ, we are all tasked with running the extra mile to help out those who need some extra assistance. It could be as simple giving a call to a friend who has been feeling lonely or as drastic as offering your time and gifts to causes that will aid those who are struggling to get back on their feet.
I believe that our call moving forward is to be the friends that Job didn’t have. Ones that will support, encourage and be there till the very end, no matter how tough. Blessings to you all, friends. Stay safe and stay healthy.