This past weekend I was so blessed to be able to take a retreat with my Bible girlfriends to the mountains. We go once a year to Icthus Ministries in Bryson City, NC for a weekend of rest, worship, Bible study, fellowship, and fun together. (And did I mention good food?)
The couple who runs the retreat center, Bill and Edith Dingle, are two of the most loving, Spirit-filled people I know. When we arrived, Bill shared a story with me that I want to share with you because it was a great encouragement for our walk with the Lord.
Edith and their daughter Emma are cloggers. In fact, they are pretty good cloggers, winning the National Championship in Nashville, TN. That’s right, they won a National Championship!
With the title came a huge trophy and all the bragging rights you can imagine. Not to mention, they have now been invited to the World Championship!
What an amazing accomplishment (even though they had no competition)!
No, it’s not that the competitors were bad cloggers. There was literally no competition. Nobody else showed up!
So, even though Edith and Emma worked really hard, put in untold hours of practice, and drove to Nashville for the competition, they won a championship because they showed up when no one else did.
How like our God to honor their faithfulness!
As Bill shared with me, sometimes the Lord will make us champions because we just keep showing up, even when’s it’s a struggle, even when everything may seem to be against us, even when it costs us something.
I am reminded (as Bill shared with me) of the woman with the issue of blood.
“A large crowd followed and pressed around him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse.”Mark 5:24b-26, NIV 84
Here’s a woman who had every reason to not show up. Her medical problem, probably female in nature, made her ceremonially unclean (Leviticus 15:25-33). So she would have been shunned by others and unable to have contact with them.
This sickness had ruled her life for twelve years, but she had not given up seeking help. She continued to seek doctors who could cure her, but they took her money while her condition only worsened.
By the time she heard the rumors about this man who could heal the sick, she could have just decided to stay home. What good would it do to show up for another disappointment? Another letdown? Another hopeless situation?
“When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, ‘If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.'”Mark 5:27-28
She did show up. And when the crowd was too large and pressing all around, she could have just retreated and gone back home. After all, what good would it do anyway?
But she didn’t. She continued to press in and believe that all her hope would be rewarded with just a touch of His garment.
And she was right.
“Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.”Mark 5:29
She won! She took home the trophy–no more pain, no more suffering, no more enduring the rejection of others. Because she just kept showing up. She kept seeking and believing that one day she would be made whole again.
I know sometimes you’re tired of doing church and ministry. You’re weary of fighting spiritual battles. You’ve endured rejection or hoped for an answer to a particular prayer with no result. Sometimes it would be easier to just throw in the towel. But God says you are more than a conqueror in Him.
“No, in all these things [trouble, hardship, persecution] we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”Romans 8:37 (brackets added from v.35)
Keep praying. Keep seeking. Keep striving to be what God wants you to be. He rewards those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).
No matter the cost, no matter the struggle, regardless of the effort–don’t give up, my friend. Keep walking in obedience to what God has called you to do.
“This is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith.”1 John 5:4b
So just keep showing up. At the end of the day, you are taking home the trophy. Because you are already a champion in Him.