Thursday, October 15, 2009

Aid Stations

In September we planned a family camping trip that got rained out (read about it here), but Jeff still ran the race that was planned that Saturday morning. 17 and 1/2 miles over mountainous trails in the pouring rain. Fun? He said it was! :) He watched as runners dropped out, were injured, or slogged along through the mud and puddles and over the slippery clay. Along the way, there were Aid Stations set up as support for the weary runners who may have felt like giving up many times. The inexperienced ones are tempted to pass up Aid Stations, thinking that they will make better time if they don't pull aside for water, medical attention, or assistance from race personnel. Wise ones, like the 71 yr. old man who came in before my buff husband, have learned to use the Aid Stations along the way as opportunities to refuel and refocus, to get help they need before it's too late and they have to drop out. Jeff used an Aid Station as a place to leave his waterlogged glasses behind, since he couldn't see through them clearly in the driving rain. Support.

Running a trail is a lot like living life, a lot like ministry, a lot like parenting, a lot like marriage. The stuff of life can create a trail that is difficult to navigate, dangerous to maneuver, draining our resources, causing injury, and tempting us to give up. Just like a runner who wants to finish well, Aid Stations in life are for the wise who know when to step aside for help and support.

In the past month we have been standing in the "Aid Station" for many who are plodding along the trail of life. Some have just been tired. More than one has been ready to throw in the towel completely. Some have needed some encouragement, some refreshment, and some counsel. Some have needed a place to rest. Others have needed prayer. Some need help disentangling themselves from the "stuff" (the sin) they picked up along the way. When you man the Aid Station, you love the ones who straggle in and ask for help, or those who just stumble in and wait silently for support. In the Aid Station, we receive people with love and encouragement, and we want them to finish well. We don't criticize them or boast about how we could do better. We come alongside to encourage and help. It happens in a church building, over the phone, over email, at our kitchen table, or at a restaurant. The Body at work provides loving support for the hurting.

Hebrews 12

1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

The end of this week is our fall break, and we are taking off for a couple of days in the "Aid Station." Once again, we planned to camp, and once again ... it's a washout. :) We need to refuel, be refreshed, spend time together, and listen to the Lord. This time others will receive us. A sweet couple owns a home in the mountains and offers it to pastors' families, so that they can come away and rest, so that we can get back in the race and run it well. When I called to confirm the arrangements, the lady prayed a beautiful prayer over me and my family, right there over the phone. I felt so blessed and refreshed, just by her encouraging, faith filled words. I am so thankful for times to step off the trail and be received into one of these places or by one of these people God puts in our lives to strengthen us.

Sometimes we found ourselves in bad shape or wounded, and it can be humbling to pull aside to an Aid Station and allow other believers to go with us and help us take our burdens to the Father. October has given us the chance to watch face after face be relieved and refreshed, though, when they've found hope and help by coming in and saying, "I'm weary. I'm wounded." Jesus extended the invitation and still lays it out there through His own people. We need it more than ever, and so does the world around us.

Tired from time on life's trail or needing help? Don't try to push on to make good time. Step aside and find support in the Aid Stations God has set up for us along the way. I'll be back in a few days ... refreshed and refueled to get back in the race.

5 COMMENTS ~ Click here to leave a COMMENT:

Heidi Pocketbook said...

Excellent post, Julie. I hope you have a blessed time refueling. I am also thankful for the support your blog and emails provide me.

Warren Baldwin said...

Interesting post, where metaphor and real life weave together. You are so right - even those who man an aid station need and aid station! Jesus himself withdrew to commune with the Father; we should do no less. Thanks. Hope your break brings your family the needed repose and refueling. wb

Julie@comehaveapeacew said...

Our time away was just what the Lord knew it needed to be! The gray clouds & cold kept us inside together much of the time, and it was great time to enjoy each other, the quiet, the Lord, and the rest He had for us. He even gave us a few glimpses of sunshine and some deep drinks of enjoying His amazing creation painted in fall colors. We are so thankful for His plans that were better than ours.

Anonymous said...

God is so faithful with "aid stations". They show up even when you think you don't need them. I've learned, the hard way, not to turn down the chance to refuel, because I am probably closer to empty than I realize!

Karen Vogel said...

Thanks for reminding us to refuel!