For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11
There was a whole gaggle of runners lined up for the Lehigh Valley Marathon in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
Many of those runners were in attendance because this was a chance for them to post a time that would get them an invitation to participate in the prestigious Boston Marathon, which was to be held on September 11.
Understandably, anyone who had such aspirations and had, long before, committed themselves to an intensive training regimen, wanted to do their best.
The day of the race, the weather cooperated and things started out smoothly.
Yes, things started smoothly, but they didn't continue smoothly.
Somewhere around the 11k mark of the race, the runners encountered a rather large difficulty. Both figuratively and literally, their forward progress was halted by a very slow moving freight train.
Although the Norfolk Southern Railroad had promised no trains would pass the marathon route from 7 to 10 a.m., somebody gave permission for the train to proceed. The anxious runners kept running in place for the first minute of the train, then the second minute, as well as the third, fourth and fifth.
Do you remember when I said some runners literally ran into the train? That statement was accurate. Some of the marathoners jumped into one side of an open freight car and came out on the other.
Those who were not so brave (or foolhardy) had to wait about ten minutes for the train to pass. For some of them that wait marked the end of their Boston Marathon aspirations.
I can only imagine their frustration and disappointment.
You know, over the years I have seen the same sort of thing happen to church members. To all outward appearances they were good and solid church people. Everything was going fine for them until something unexpected cut across their path and brought them to a screeching halt.
The "train" that stopped them may have been a death, an illness, a disappointment in another person, a sorrow that rocked their spiritual world. Rather than running the race the Lord would have them do, they grew bitter against God and gave up their dream of heaven.
How sad. That is certainly not what the Lord wanted to happen.
Those who count Jesus as their Savior can rest assured that no matter what may happen to them, the Lord remains in control. By inspiration Isaiah shared the wishes of the Lord who said, "Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand" (Isaiah 41:10).
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, trials and tests are sure to come our way. At such times may we be turned to You who will help us survive and succeed. This we ask in the Name of our Redeemer, Jesus Christ. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries