The Olympics have just ended, so this is the perfect time to share a special Parting Words From The WORD… blog post with you, written by my friend, Lynn Blackburn. I know it’s much longer than our usual Friday posts, but after reading it, I knew I just had to share her encouraging words here. Thank you, Lynn.
Friends, are you weary? Ready to give up? Or do you know someone who is? Either way, this post is written for you.
I love figure skating. Itâs one of my favorite parts of the Winter Olympics, right up there with curling, because letâs face it, curling is cool.
Figure skating has seen its share of drama, some of which led to a complete overhaul of the scoring system a few years ago.
Now, the skater sits in the âkiss and cryâ section and waits with their coaches for the score.Â A voice comes over the speaker and says, âThe score, for fabulous skater from cool country is, 63.7.â
It really lacks the drama from the old days. You remember how it went, donât you?
5.8 (dramatic pause)
5.7 (dramatic pause)
6.0 (wild cheers from the crowd)
5.3 (hissing and boos)
5.8 (skater bursts into tears of joy or grief)
Yeah, those were good times.
I have to confess that I donât understand the new scoring system, but it has one feature I find fascinating.
Skaters can earn bonus points.
Each jump is given a certain number of points, and when they land that jump, they get those points.Â But if they land that same jump after the halfway mark of their program, they get a bonus.
Because itâs a lot harder to land those jumps when youâre tired.
Oh baby, donât we know it.
We take the ice and weâre skating our hearts out, but somewhere along the way, everything gets harder.Â Legs tremble. Breaths spasm through our chest. Arms quiver.Â We try to maintain our form, our speed, because thereâs more to come. More twists and spins. More fancy footwork.Â More jumps.
If this makes perfect sense to us when we think about an ice skating routine, why do we forget it when it comes to this crazy free skate we call life?
We started out great. We opened our hearts to people in need. We sacrificedâour time, our money, our desiresâfor the sake of the Gospel. We knew He had a great plan even when it didnât make sense.Â Then it got harder, and for some reason, this shocks us.
Every. Single. Time.
Weâre struggling to get enough oxygen to our brain to think clearly, and we canât figure out what happened.Â When all that happened is we got tired. Weâve been at this for a while, and itâs exhausting.
This idea has been spinning in my brain for the past week as I near the end of an unplanned free skate. After weeks of demolition and construction, we are in the final stretch. When the last pile of sawdust is swept away, my home will be more beautiful than it was before.
But itâs been exhausting, and even though I can tell from the music that itâs almost over, Iâm faltering. Iâm not sure Iâve got another jump in me.
So when a friend shot me a text this morning, reminding me that this is just a slice of time, that this will end, and that it wonât be like this forever, it came as both a gentle reproof and a much needed boost to my morale.
And it got my mind twisting a little more. Because if you’re reading this, I know you’re in one of two places. Maybe even in both at the same time.
1. Youâre exhausted. Youâve been pursuing the dream, the friendship, the child, the spouse, the number on the scale, or the boss you canât please, and youâve got nothing left.
If this is you today, can I remind you that Jesus is the one who said, âCome to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.â Your fatigue doesnât shock Him, and Heâs not looking down on you in disgust, wondering how you could be so weak. He likes weak, because when we recognize our weakness, thatâs when His strength can pour through us. In His strength, not our own, the jumps we land near the end of the program will be the ones that glorify Him most.
2. You know someone who is exhausted. The friend who gave up her bedroom to care for an aging parent a year ago. The co-worker whoâs wondering if the cancer treatment is going to save her life or just kill her faster. The couple whoâve been waiting a decade to announce a new baby. The family who opened their home to foster or adopt. The people next door who donât know if theyâll be able to pay the power bill. Or maybe itâs closer to home. Maybe itâs the spouse who dreads leaving for work each day, or the child who withdraws more every week as she navigates high school.
They need someone to remind them that itâs okay to be exhausted. Itâs okay to be weak. Itâs okay to need help.
Donât fall into the trap of believing that since theyâve been âhandlingâ this situation so well for so long, that they donât need anything. Recognize that they are operating in bonus point territory. If thereâs a way to provide tangible assistance, by all means, do it. Take them a meal or take their kids for an afternoon or invite them to a movie. Call them or text them with a little bit of perspective, even if it scares you to do it, because it may be exactly what they need.
No matter what, pray for them. Better? Pray WITH them.
Maybe you could pray thisâŚ
I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faithâthat you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:14-21 ESV, emphasis mine)
BIO: Lynn Huggins Blackburn has been telling herself stories since she was five and finally started writing them down. She blogs about living life at the intersection of fear and faith on her blog Out of the Boat. Lynn is a member of the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild and Cross âN Pen Writers. She lives in South Carolina where she hangs out with three lively children, one fabulous man, and a cast of imaginary characters who find their way onto the pages of her still unpublished novels. She drinks a lot of coffee.
(Skate images courtesy of office.microsoft.com)
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