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 great joy. When 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 on mats under mosquito tents. 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 the cake came the next morning.
We were up early setting up for the day, when 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 for an hour to get to our camp because she knew that we had something she needed. (And it felt like it was 110 degrees with 100% humidity. It was hot!) She walked up the hill with her paddle in hand. We weren’t quite set up for patient care, but she peaked our interest, and we paused our preparations to take time to get to know her. 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 and 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 examined 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 paddle in hand. She was guarding that paddle the entire time.
A few hours had passed, and I noticed a man carrying her paddle away. I didn’t speak the native language, and couldn’t make the man understand that I was trying to tell him that the paddle belonged to the lady. I recruited a translator, and had the translator explain to the man that the paddle belonged to the little lady we had met earlier. The joke was on us, however. It turned out that the little old lady had high jacked a boat, paddled upstream an hour because she heard that our team would be there. She “borrowed” someone elses boat! We had something she wanted, and she did what she had to do to get it. We all had a good laugh, and arranged 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 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 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!!