I Corinthians 9:24-25 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.
Ecclesiastes 9:10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.
Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.
I’ve shared this story before, but I can’t help but share it again because it brings me such great joy. When we were nearing the end of our mission trip to Peru, we traveled by boat down the Amazon River to Casa Mi Padre, a boys home. We camped outdoors overnight on mats under mosquito tents right next to the Amazon River! It was a pretty amazing experience, but being in the great outdoors on the Amazon River was just a little piece of cake. The sweet, delicious icing on that cake came the next morning.
We were up early, and I was setting up my outdoor medical clinic for the day, While we were all busying ourselves with preparations, a little 80 year old lady, who was about as big as a minute, came paddling upstream to our site. Seriously, y’all, she was 4 foot nothing and 80 years old. She had paddled upstream, up the Amazon, for over an hour to get to our camp because she knew that we had something she needed! She walked up the steep hill to our camp grasping her paddle tightly in her hands. We weren’t quite set up for patient care, but we were so intrigued that we all stopped what we were doing to meet this lady. She told us that she had 12 children, 8 of which were still living. One daughter brought her food each week but had failed to come the previous week. She was hungry. We had some scrambled eggs, bread, and cold water left over from breakfast, and she scarfed it down. We went through our back packs and loaded her up with as many snacks as we could find so that she could take something back home with her.
I then completed a thorough medical exam on her in my makeshift clinic under an outdoor gazebo. I gave her necessary medications, and she proceeded on to our dental clinic and eye clinic with that paddle still in hand. She was guarding that paddle the entire time as though her life depended on it.
A few hours had passed, and I noticed a man walking by carrying her paddle away. I didn’t speak the native language, and couldn’t make the man understand, but i just knew that I needed to get that paddle! I recruited a translator and had the translator explain to the man that the paddle belonged to the little lady. However, the joke was on us! Turned out that sweet little old lady had high jacked a boat and paddled upstream an hour because she heard that our team would be there. We had something she wanted, and she did what she had to do to get it. We all had a good laugh, and fortunately, we were able to arrange for a family member that was present to take her back home, but not before she had a full belly, medications, new glasses, and new teeth. She praised God for each of us, and wished many blessings over our team.
Now, I am not condoning nor recommending “borrowing” a boat or taking something that doesn’t belong to you to get what you need. But I am recommending that we all strive for that kind of stamina when we are seeking Christ and doing His work. We should paddle upstream if necessary to reach others for Christ. We need to travel to the remote places, go to the hard places, meet people that are outside our daily circle, talk to people that we may not even like, and do whatever it takes to share the Good News. God will open the doors. God will make a way. You only have to be a willing vessel and have the stamina to do it. If a 4 foot tall, 80 year old woman can paddle upstream up the Amazon River, can’t we go right down the street, in the comfort of our air conditioned vehicle, and tell others about Christ? Yes, we can! God will give us all the stamina we need!!