This week was special. But not exactly special in the way you would think.
I can remember my Lacrosse coach watch me bench my max, walk up to me, and add another 40 pounds and make me lift another set of ten. I can remember running up Quail road from Timpview High to the top of the hill, and back down, and back up again. Picking up a 25 pound medicine ball and running up and down the stands and doing ladders on the field.
Nobody judges a coach because he pushes his athletes to the limit in preparation for the season, for that important game. Nobody thinks to judge him.
Did I not like my coach when I left the gym hardly able to lift my arms? Maybe. It was hard, it hurt, but I understood why. If you don't understand why you will be filled with frustration and anger towards your coach when he pushes you. But when you can see the end goal -- being prepared for the next season -- you endure with patience. The weights aren't lighter, the hill isn't shorter, the only difference is your perception of the trial. You can see the final result. You see yourself stronger, faster. You can tell what your coach is planning for you. He is molding you into something new, that stronger, faster version of you. He knows the end goal, and you know it too. We understand each other.
Most of you probably know what I'm talking about. :)
Who is my coach? The Lord.
I came into this mission field just like a new player joins the team. Knowing nothing, weak, ineffective. My coach has been pushing me, giving me difficulties. But the problem in this scenario is that my perception of these trials and difficulties isn't the same as the Lord's. He sees me at the end of the mission a strong, powerful, filled with the Spirit, efficient, hard-working man. But do I see this end goal? Sometimes. I can always see that end goal when things are easy but once my Coach puts on those extra 40 pounds for a week, can I still see the purpose? When I'm running up a long, steep hill, do I truly understand His purposes? There's the rub. My perspective and my Coach's perspective are not in line. He sees something I don't see. We aren't seeing eye to eye, and thus, I become confused, frustrated, impatient. I just see this hill as a hill, and I am doomed to push my stone up to the top just to watch it roll back down again so I have to push it up again.
But once I come unto an understanding of His great eternal purpose, I can see His hand in my life. We all know that the greatest men went to the top only because of the great resistance they met on the way. My Lord is giving me great resistance in this period of my mission. He just threw on an extra 100 pounds and told me to do 40 reps. My arms are weak, near that point where they just stop working. That point when you look at that bar and it doesn't move, no matter how hard I push, it just won't move. But that is why He is here. Just like my coach, on the ninth rep, when my arms stop working, He puts His hands on the bar and lifts with me until I finish the set.
The beautiful thing is that I can see His purposes. Through prayer I have brought the will of the Father and will of the child into correspondence with each other. I understand why He is giving me trials, and thus I can endure with patience, even joy. Lifting my bar right now is an extremely joyful experience, because I have a near perfect perception of His purposes -- what He needs me to be. So I lift, again and again, with invisible hands adding their incomprehensible strength to mine. I feel like the more I try to come unto Him the more weights he adds to my burdens.
"And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them."
"And it came to pass that they did multiply and prosper exceedingly in the land... Nevertheless the Lord seeth fit to chasten his people; yea, he trieth their patience and their faith. Nevertheless -- whosoever putteth his trust in him the same shall be lifted up at the last day. Yea, and thus it was with this people... And it came to pass that he did deliver them, and he did show forth his mighty power unto them, and great were their rejoicings."
I feel strong. Tired, sore, but strong. But more important I feel humbled. Knowing that it wasn't I who put those weights on to increase my strength. (2 Timothy 1:6-12)