Two quick object lessons, and two beautiful song performances to watch/listen to…

If you just want to skip down to the songs, that’s fine, though I think the stories are worth reading, too.  🙂


Just a little farther, he said

When I was about ten or twelve, a longtime dear friend of our family’s, a very kind-hearted, jovial man with an infectious laugh, took me on a day skiing trip to Tuckerman’s Ravine.  Unlike the ski area where I grew up (Gunstock), Tuckerman’s had no chair lift to transport skiers up the mountain to begin the indescribably beautiful descent down its ivory slopes of powder snow.  You had to hike up from the base of the mountain to the top, wearing clunky ski boots that felt like they must have weighed ten pounds each, and carry your skis over your shoulder…for what seemed like several miles.

Being young and impatient, I frequently asked Al, who even in his sixties, was as rugged as he was gentle, “are we there yet?”  I guess that question isn’t limited to family road trips. Each time I asked, he would turn around, and with a smile between perpetually rosy cheeks, would assure me, “just a little bit farther.”

Had he said “oh, yeah, we have a long way to go still”, I might have been inclined to despair.  But each time he said we were almost there, I kept going.

And of course, one last time he said “almost there”, there we were.  We had arrived.  I don’t remember much about it, other than the fact that it was, as any snow-covered mountain when one stands near the top, a breathtaking sight to behold.

And then we skied down it, much faster than we had climbed up it. It was a thrill that was worth the hike, and I’ll remember it as long as I live.  (That was about fifty years ago.)

Harder to stop than keep going

In Marine Corps boot camp at Parris Island in 1978, one of the many things my fellow recruits and I learned was how to march properly, in step, in a platoon of up to 71 other men, at the direction of a drill instructor (DI) giving a handful of well timed commands.  It is hard to describe the feeling I had hearing seventy-two boot heels striking the pavement at the same time, walking by a brick building where the sound would echo off its walls.  (Our platoon won both the initial- and final drill competition against the other three platoons in our series in the seventy-seven days I was there.)

When our DI would yell “Forward, march!“, we all stepped forward, left foot first, and began to march in unison as a finely tuned machine.  Very early each morning, this was the command we heard after being rudely awakened and told to dress and get into formation in preparation for PT (physical training), soon to be followed by “double time, march!”  That was the signal to begin jogging/running in formation, still in step, as long as the DI would call cadence, “left, right, left…..left, right, left” for three miles….in combat boots.

Near the end of whatever distance we were running, generally three miles, sometimes more, the command “quick time, march!” signaled we were to return from a jogging/running pace back to regular marching speed.  (Not having particularly enjoyed running until my late 20’s/early 30’s, this was one of my favorite commands to hear the DI shout.)

By this time, the rhythm of running, and then walking again, had just become so automatic that, when the DI finally shouted “platoon, halt!“, it seemed more of an effort to actually stop than it would have been to just keep going, left, right, left, one foot in front of the other.

This, along with my friend Al’s periodic urgings of “just a little farther”, have been very subtle (but effective) life lessons for me to persevere when things get tough, when things don’t look so promising.

Four verses into the very familiar passage of scripture in what is commonly referred to as the Love Chapter, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, verse 7 says “love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”  To me, this means, among many other things we can glean from it, that tomorrow may be better;  tomorrow things may improve, so keep bearing, keep believing, keep hoping, keep enduring.  Don’t give up today, because tomorrow things could change.  It’s always too soon to quit.

Just a little bit longer…

The songs

The first is Michael W. Smith performing Agnus Dei with the First Baptist Dallas Church choir (5:33)  (Man, I miss singing in a choir!)  Agnus Dei is Latin and means Lamb of God.  This is one of my all-time favorite songs to sing in church (or wherever, really).  It is hard to stay anxious, lonely, or depressed while/after singing this.  (Anxiety, loneliness, and depression are all centered around us, whereas this song takes the focus off of us and puts it on Him.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=db0t_NUq5bw

The second is the band MercyMe performing “Even If”, along with the testimony/story behind the song…(9:31)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O_WSeZh5mWA

Be encouraged.

In Christ,

Fred

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