Recently, my family and I went on a trip up to our favorite place, Hume Lake. It’s a beautiful lake, in Sequoia National Park, and it’s where Brian and I met as campers one summer, so it holds a special place in our hearts. My middlest — as she likes to call herself — Charlotte, really wanted a milkshake. Not just a portion, an entire milkshake to herself. Now, these are HUGE milkshakes. And, we don’t really give our kids sugar, so this was a giant ask. So, like any kind parent would do, I gave her a giant goal, thinking that, surely, she wouldn’t actually complete it.
The giant goal: run the lake without stopping. A few things to keep in mind: we are at 5,500 feet elevation, running the lake is a 5k, and she’s 7. “No problem, Mom. I got it.” That is what she tells me.
So, we take off. Now, Charlotte has done 3 miles before. But, at sea level, and with some training. And when she runs, she usually does this amazing self-talk. She’s telling herself, “You got this, you can do it, you’re a girl,” and it is the best thing ever to listen to. But she didn’t really have it in her to give herself those out loud pep talks all the way, so I took over for her. And all of the sudden we had this little rhythm.
I would say something, she would repeat it. And then it would switch — she would say something, and I would repeat that. And at the end our little encouragement chat to one another we would always end with “God created me, to do hard things.” We did this for 3 miles. Straight. She didn’t stop. She made her goal.
Hebrews 12:1-2 says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin, which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
YOUR race, your sprint, is about to begin. You are about to meet your families, you’re about to push a wheelchair, and carry backpacks, and play with kids, in 95% humidity and 95 degree heat. You are about to hear really hard family situations. You are about to laugh and cry within seconds of each other. You’re about to have the most amazingly hard weekend. You’ve prepped, you’ve trained, you’ve traveled. You got your race day info last night. You have your shirts and your name tags. Your big, welcoming smiles. And here you are. You’re ready.
But the thing is, some of you first-time volunteers, especially… you might still have that nervous/excited feeling. We do, too! None of us have ever run this particular race before. We have never met these families, or heard the depth of their stories. Each retreat, no matter how many times we’ve done it, there are new friendships forged and new tears shed and new memories made.
Hebrews tells us that since we are surrounded with SO great a cloud of witnesses, run the race set before us with endurance. Because… Jesus did hard things. Jesus endured the cross. And at this point in your life, Jesus has this weekend set aside for you to run THIS race. For you to do THIS hard thing. He knows all about hard things. He’s created you to do them.
Sure, your end goal is different. It’s not a milkshake all to yourself without sharing with a sibling… though each day you might need a milkshake after you’re done. Our end goal is that these families walk away knowing Christ and the hope he has for them. Our goal is that they leave intentional legacies for their families. Our goal is that they make some beautiful family memories. And in order to get there, we sprint through this weekend.
We enter into their lives for this one short weekend. And when it gets hard, and you’re tired, you look at your teammate, or your roommate, or me or any other staff member, and we will encourage you to keep going. Because, just like Charlotte and I found out, your run is actually much more enjoyable when you take your eyes off of yourself, and you encourage the person next to you.
So in this room are your teammates, your encouragers, the people that are going to help you do this hard thing. You have friends and family back home that are cheering you on from the sidelines; they know you can do this, too. And in just a bit, you’ll meet your sweet and precious families.
Yes, you’re running your own race, but you’re also about to start running alongside a family who is in a marathon they didn’t sign up for. You are going to give them a reprieve so they can breathe easy for a weekend. You are tagging in. You’re offering to run this part of their race too. You are their water break. You get to say, “I got this part of your race.”
You aren’t taking away their cancer. You aren’t fixing their problems. You humbly get to be their resting point in this part of their incredibly hard race for these next four days. And you can do it. You signed up for a Legacy Retreat, in August, in Orlando. So, I know you don’t shy away from challenges or hard things.
I’m going to say it to you team, for you to repeat: God created me. To do hard things.
Heidi Benson is Inheritance of Hope’s Families Manager. She originally shared this devotional with the August 2019 Orlando Legacy Retreat® team. Read more Inheritance of Hope blogposts >>