Have you ever walked hundreds of miles in the desert, with no shoes on your feet, and no water in sight? Have you ever looked in all directions, seeing nothing but the sun blazing down on the sand? Have you ever closed your eyes for two seconds, then accidentally walk into a cactus? Have you ever been crushed by words so hard you feel you’re forced to shrink into the corner? Have you ever felt that your willingness to help others is pointless? Do you compete in cross country running, or do you run laps on a track? Have you ever been inches way from the finish line; tripped, twisted your ankle and thought you couldn’t go further?

Are you a freshman in high school, who just moved to a new town? New school, new friends, new teachers . . . you feel out of place. Then you accidentally bump into someone and they give out a loud burst of anger. Next thing you know, you’ve developed a nick name that’s related to your incident in the hall. Eventually you walk around with a brick on your head, arms wrapped around you for protection; never looking up at anyone. Then one day the author of your nickname bumps into you. When she blames the incident on you, you smile and say, “It’s okay.” While you help her gather her books. Afterwards, you walk away with a twinkle in your eye, because you know you went the extra mile.

Have you ever helped someone over and over, and have never received a word of thanks? After two years of helping them you feel like what you’re doing is pointless. With no sign of appreciating from them, you give up. You go home, throw your bag on the counter, sigh, shake your head and start with the dishes. After an endless day of sorting through old clothes you feel empty inside, like a peach tree with no peaches. The next day you roll over to the right side of the bed, smile to yourself, pray for strength, and start your day off helping others. They still fail to appreciate your helping hand, yet you feel fulfilled, because you went the extra mile.

Or are you a runner? You may be inches from the finish line when you’re knocked down. You’re lying there, watching everyone race by you as you struggle to get up. Then someone runs by you but trots back. Then quietly helps you up. Knowing her chance of winning is lost, she does it anyways, no matter your protest. As everyone races to the finish line, you and your new friend toddle to the behind them. As you cross the finish line you raise your new friend’s arm, because she scored higher by going the extra mile.

When you’re walking in the desert with no shoes on your feet, and with no water in sight. When you feel you can’t go further, and you’re knocked down to the ground . . . that’s when you walk the extra mile. That’s when you get up. We all get knocked down sometimes. We all rise up, then fall at times. But that doesn’t mean our journey stops there. It’s only the beginning. With God directing the wagon train, there’s no way we can fail. Ask, listen and believe.

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. 2 Timothy 4:7-8

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