The Lure Of The 1-Mile Marker

Jeff Endurance

There is something healthy and helpful with the concept of “go a little farther”.  It is not something I am always conscious of, but this principle really does guide so much of my life’s philosophy.  When people, hard circumstances or a diminishing of your abilities all tempt you to stop trying, stop continuing, stop sacrificing…then we need to remember the teaching of Jesus when He said,

“And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.” – Matthew 5:41

Nearly every time, we desire to quit because it brings some form of immediate relief.  We are tired of the years-long tug of war with our spouse so we make an appointment with a divorce lawyer and get the paperwork started.  Our boss is frustrating and our current work adds nothing to our hope of a future at the company, so we scratch the itch and write a premature letter of resignation to escape the challenges at the office.  The place where we worship has changed and we are no longer comfortable there because it is not quite how we wish it would be but, fortunately for us, the church down the street does it our way so we begin to scope it out and ultimately start attending there. College is much more demanding than high school was, and we feel hemmed in by the thought of another four years of education which may or may not yield a decent job after we receive our cap and gown. We choose to drop out.  Being single has been the bane of our existence for far too long so we decide that the next person who shows a moderate level of interest in us will serve as a supernatural sign from Heaven that it is now the ordained time to wed.

Waiting things out is a rapidly vanishing character trait in our hypersonic culture.  That’s too bad because scores of breakthroughs are experienced only after the waiting period hits its most intense level.

You need to commit to that second-mile-marker mindset today.  I am not referring to some boy-scout doubling up of a day’s work.  My words are endeavoring to pull back the curtain on reality and to remind you that the greatest war you ever wage is with your own will.  Quitting is regularly the decision made when the flesh cries out ‘No more! No more!’  The desire for present relief overwhelms the discipline of going a little farther. Unfortunately, when the thrill of relief fades and intoxication of escape passes from our senses, we awake to find a whole new set of different challenges.  We are back at square one, but we are merely playing on a new game-board.  So my counsel for you is to press on and press through.  It is nearly always too early to give up on people.  Sensing that some of you may be subconsciously fantasizing what life would be like if you were released from a difficult marriage, I want to ask you to take those thoughts captive because they do not reflect the wisdom of God.  Barring the extreme of abuse, marriage vows bind us to that commitment of enduing for better or for worse.  Infidelity by your spouse indeed is a scripturally legal escape clause but that does not mean that you have to utilize it.  Sometimes that breakthrough is waiting for you if you will…go a little farther.  Equally, your faith may be greatly tested at your place of employment.  A fallacy of our culture is that your job helps identify who you are.  If you have a difficult job, a dead-end advancement ceiling or a hostile group of co-workers, it is natural for you to want a different scene because you desire to feel better about who you are. Your concept of who you are has become intertwined with what you do – we are all susceptible to this.  Maybe God wants you to stay a little longer at that job and to go a little further there so that you can fully secure your identity in Christ and not in what you do to earn a living.  What about your local church or the ministry you have poured into?  Most of you reading this have some level of commitment to Jesus.  Many of you have spent years worshiping and serving at the same church but are lately experiencing unease with some of the changes you now see at that house of worship that was one so easy and predictable for you.  Resist that urge to leave because of some lack of validation for your personal preferences.  Churches which do not change are eventually the most unhealthy churches of all.  The Gospel does not change, but methodology and ministry modes must change or we will fail to reach the very people for whom God has left us here. Assuming that Sundays are not the only days you experience authentic worship of Jesus, then allow for changes to happen at your church and find out how you might retain your focus on Gospel priorities at your church instead of personal preferences.  I worship God according to my personal preferences and inclinations six free and full days a week.  Yet, on Sundays I worship alongside of others and it would be arrogant of me to assume that everyone else should conform to my tastes.  Most people leave the church where they are committed, not because of a Scriptural reason, but because they could find something more aligned with their comfort zone nearby. In my opinion, this kind of activity is a shame. Comfort zones are an enemy to Gospel advancement and a danger to our finishing our races well. Comfort zones are presumed by many but promised to none – we should remember this in our marriages, our places of employment and in the houses of worship we attend.

Jesus taught His followers to go a little farther than what was required of them.  It was not because He was a cruel teacher who wanted to arbitrarily wear us out.  He told us to go a little farther because it is at the end of ourselves where we encounter the greatest treasures that He has for us.  Those treasures are in His hands and He always went a little farther.  He still does, and He asks us to go with Him.  If we will go a little farther we will encounter Him in ways that we cannot if we continue to choose to turn around at the mile-one marker.  Press on.  Press through.  This is an aspect of your faith that Jesus is developing and you will be so happy that you committed to that next leg of endurance.