Imagine you’re running a marathon. You’re monitoring the situation, carefully maintaining a reasonable pace based on ability and training. You’ve prepared your body and mind for the race; you know the signs that tell you to run faster or slower, when to drink or eat.
You expect the unavoidable ebbs and flows of mental and physical energy. Hills and headwinds will increase difficulty in some places; sunshine and tailwinds will provide a few easy, enjoyable stretches. You’re eager to confront exhilaration and trial as fundamental elements of the competition.
You also know about “the wall,” that point where you’ll be tested nearly beyond your ability. You anticipate that burning muscles and aching lungs will challenge desire and discipline. You expect the urge to give up, to stop and allow the pain to subside. The lure of immediate relief will entice you to cast aside goals and dreams, surrendering the satisfaction of the finish line in return for an end to the struggle.
Then, without any warning, you fall into a hole.
The publicized course didn’t mention this complication. You didn’t train for it, couldn’t see it coming, didn’t prepare survival supplies or pack climbing equipment. There’s no cell phone reception in the hole.
You try everything you know to escape from the hole on your own, but
all of your training, experience, and discipline are useless. No specialized diet or workout regimen could have prepared you to overcome this unanticipated challenge. You simply cannot get yourself out of the hole. You’re stuck. Powerless.
A doctor happens to walk by the hole. You call out, “Hey, Doc. I’m stuck down here. Can you help me?” The doctor writes a prescription and tosses down some medicine. You take the medicine, and you feel better. But you’re still trapped.
One of your buddies walks by. “Hey, can you help me out? I’m stuck down here, I’ve tried everything I can think of, but I can’t get out.” Your friend tosses you a Bible with some inspiring passages marked. You read the passages and meditate on them, and you feel better.
But you’re still caught in the hole.
Then a radical thought occurs to you: Perhaps I should ask God for help. (Interesting that prayer is so often the last thing I think of when I’m in trouble.) “God,” you pray, “I’m trapped in this hole and I can’t get out. I’ve tried everything, but I’m really stuck. Can You help me?”
You hear a faint rustling sound and turn around. Jesus is there! “Lord, I’m trapped in this hole. I’ve tried everything, but I can’t find any way out. And I appreciate that You’ve come to be with me, but now we’re both stuck here.”
Jesus smiles and puts His arm on your shoulder. “Yeah,” He says. “But I’ve been here before, and I know the way out.”
This is an excerpt from
Relentless Grace: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance