Beyond My Strength to Endure

Published April 4, 2017 by Dawn

This past weekend was EXHAUSTING. It was really good, but really exhausting. So exhausting that this blog took me four hours to write because I took a nap in the middle of writing it.

I took the youth group on a weekend glamping trip to a nearby theme park (and by nearby, I mean a four-hour drive … and we camped near the park … in cabins). We left on Friday and came back on Sunday. It was hands down the best extended trip I have ever taken a group on and I would do it again in a heartbeat. But it was long and took a lot out of me. Travel back with me to when it all started and see if you don’t come out exhausted too:

I woke up Friday and took the kids to school. Came home and went on a three-mile run before getting ready to go because I knew I’d not have a chance to run all weekend. Showered afterward and then left to drive 40 minutes north to pick up the rental van. Brought it home, packed our things into it, went shopping for weekend supplies (that took an hour of fast-paced aisle hopping), and then headed to grab the kids from school and meet the rest of the teens at church.

Our adventure began with a four-hour drive, complete with a concert at the top of our lungs and other shenanigans. We arrived at the campground, unpacked the van and while they all went off in every direction to “hang,” I sat down for a few minutes to unwind … I get uptight after extended periods of nonstop action.

An hour or so later, I started the campfire for dinner. We roasted hotdogs. I kept up with the trash and micromanaged a bunch because I didn’t want the messes to get out of hand. It happens quick with kids. Dinner done, they headed up to the gameroom for some evening fun while I enjoyed the peace and quiet of the fire. I know you think I should have been well-rested and not exhausted, and truth be told, I was at this point. Friday, after all the early hassles, turned out really awesome. I had a lot of down time. But then we stayed up until eleven, and I had to share a bed with my daughter and niece. I don’t share a bed with anyone, so this part was really hard. They were laughing, bouncing around on the bed, refusing to go to sleep … I was tired and there was way too much noise for me to sleep. I finally fell asleep at midnight and got a total of five hours of sleep before I was up for Saturday. Saturday, we left the campground at 8:00, so we had to wake the teens up at seven and have them breakfasted and on the van ready to go by seven thirty. We arrived at the park, waited a bunch and while they all rode rides all day, I ambled around the park talking to a friend who went with us. She wanted to ride a few rides, so I sat for an hour or so in a chapel there and read a hymnal until it was time to leave.

We went to dinner, played games for a few hours back at camp and then headed to bed. I finally fell asleep around 1:00 a.m. and managed to stay blissfully unaware until 7:00 a.m. If you are adding up sleep hours, that’s eleven in two nights. We went back to the park for a few hours before heading home, and then four more hours crammed into the van got us home. At this point, I was sooooooo done. But I really wasn’t done. I still had to wait for parents to pick their kids up (waited an hour for one), then I had to drive the van back, which took another hour and a half. When I finally made it home, I had to turn around and leave again because it was my son’s birthday and we hadn’t properly celebrated (or eaten), so we headed out to his favorite restaurant.

Back up just a little and I will let you into my head: On the bus on the way home, as the second Top-O’-The-Lungs Concert was happening right behind the driver’s seat, I started thinking about that drive to take the van back. I wanted to be home so bad, relaxing before bed, knowing I had to go to work today. That drive to take the van back was taunting me. I didn’t want to do it! I nearly cried for most of the drive home because I just wanted to be done. I wanted to go home at the same time as everyone else. I wanted to sleep!

I started praying for strength to endure. The same prayer I pray while I’m running. “Help me to make it to the end. Your word says you are strong in my weakness. Be strong in me!”

This truth became painfully obvious while I finished the long evening ahead of me: God’s calling has nothing to do with convenience. He’s not always concerned about us. When we submit to being His vessel, He uses us faithfully, but His ultimate concern is the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the lives of others. The “job” isn’t always over when we like for it to be. It may require more of us than we would give on our own. It may require all of us. It may not be easy and God doesn’t necessarily apologize for that. Our comfort is not His main concern. Paul recounts this same truth in 2 Corinthians 11:27: “I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. God’s calling in Paul’s life had one aim and that was to use Paul to the fullest for God’s glory.

God’s aim in and through us is the same. We cannot allow our needs and our desires to dictate our usefulness to God. We cannot allow our comfort to keep us in a place where God can’t use us fully. If He is going to have His way through us, we have to be willing to be used beyond our feelings. Beyond our fleshly abilities to endure. We have to allow ourselves to be weak and still persevere through what God wants to do, being made strong by His Holy Spirit. The finish line isn’t dictated by our feelings. It is dictated by the Father, and He has promised to sustain us.

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