2 Kings 5:9-14
People are out there almost every day; jogging, walking, or both. For some, it is a passion and a commitment. For others, it is an escape from the tensions of their busy lives. And for others, it is a driving effort to improve the quality of their health, appearance, and vitality of life. For me, it may be a little of each. Where they or we are is the walking/jogging trail/track. Sometimes it is just the streets in the local neighborhood. Sometimes it is path along a lakeshore or wooded area. In other topographic locations, it may well be a tail that winds up one side of a hill and down the other. In recent days, my pursuit has been limited to the well paved track that encircles Earlywine Park. It is a one and a half mile track, with markers to help you know your distances.
In these warm spring days, the track has many who use it. There are understandably few in the middle of winter. People of every size, shape, and condition can be seen. I have grown accustomed to some that I see on a regular basis. Some will even ask, “Are you going out there today? How was it today?” At my age, it is a challenge to make myself go and then even harder to keep going. It is so easy to stop. Excuses are many, and it is more challenging on some days than it is on others. Motivation is a common need.
A sign caught my attention the other day. It was placed on the north leg of the track. It was put there by a family named Miller. It is directly in front of a bench that is used for a brief respite by those who are tired. The sign is about two and a half feet tall and about two feet wide. The background is painted black, and the lettering is very light. On the sign is the printed phrase, “You have done harder things than this. Keep running.”
I like the sign. Every time I pass it, I read the words again. It is an encourager along the way. I may pass it as many as four times during a full run, and every time I pass it, it says the same thing to me. When the temperature is less than comfortable, or the wind is blowing far too hard, it is easy to be discouraged. When my legs feel like overstretched rubber bands, and my lungs are about to sue me for infliction of pain, there seems to be plenty of justification for stopping. And then there is that sign. How interesting that they would choose to put it right in front of that bench. Since the sign was put in place, I have seen no one on that bench.
The servants of the commander and warrior, Naaman, challenged him with the thought that he would have done greater things if asked to. We can imagine the things that he had faced in battle and in service to the king. We are told that he carried the physical scourge of leprosy. There should be no doubt that his life was marked by some awfully steep challenges. And maybe it is the challenge of the mind that gives us the most difficult time. For, when it is the mind that is struggling, the ability of the body is often left out of the contention. So, as conflicted as he was, regarding the instructions he had been given, he knew he had faced and would face a lot tougher challenges. He complied.
We all face those moments that call on us to quit. We know the rationale from both directions. We all need a sign that reminds us. We need a reminder that what we are doing has value, it is true. More than the reminder of value, in that moment of struggle, we need a reminder that we have faced tougher things. Then we can rally our strength and keep running.