Thursday, September 27, 2018
Colossians 1:10-12 And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.
Several years ago, when my brother stilled lived in West Chicago, I visited him and got to see the queen. No, not the Queen of England, but the queen of endurance. Anyone that has been around my family for very long knows that my wife thinks she is the queen of everything. But even she will admit that in this category the real queen is our niece.
While I was there, I attended a special breakfast for her at her school. She was receiving an award which recognized her as one of her high school’s students of the month. The teacher that nominated her did so because of her determination and endurance. It’s not so much the fact that she’s one of the top students of the school, or that she excels at competitive sports like soccer and track. What makes her the queen is that she is legally blind. She has Stargardt’s disease. It is the most common form of inherited juvenile macular degeneration. As a result, she has no central field of vision and only limited peripheral vision. But that doesn’t stop the queen of endurance.
When I left Chicago she was loaded up with all of her stuff for school. The night before she had helped her mother bake a king’s cake for French class. I helped her carry it to her classroom. She also had her laptop computer equipped with special magnification programs to help her do her school work. She had her small duffel bag with her track clothes, because she had a track meet that afternoon. She had her book bag filled with homework. She carried everything but the cake, and led me through the halls of a crowded Chicago suburb high school without any assistance. She is the queen of endurance.
I called her when I got home from that trip to see how she did in the track meet. She took first place in two sprint events – the 55-meter dash and the 200-meter dash – and she was on two relay teams that took second place. Imagine a legally blind girl running around a track, staying in her lane, while receiving and handing off a baton to teammates. She is the queen of endurance. It was even more fun hearing about her soccer exploits as she was one of her team’s leading scorers.
Nothing has ever stopped my niece from pursuing her goals and dreams. Today she will rise early, walk several blocks in the dark to the train station, and travel to downtown Chicago. She will walk several blocks again through the traffic and pedestrians to her job, and then return in the evening. In her mind she has no disability. That’s because she knows that her physical abilities and disabilities are not what define her. Her inner spirit is what defines her. She has decided to endure any obstacle and to be her best. She is the queen of endurance.
In spite of her visual challenges, she sees far better than most of us. I know that there are worse things than Stargardt’s that can happen to people. But when anything debilitating happens to us, we think it’s the worst thing that could happen, and endurance isn’t the first word that pops into our heads after they happen. Anger happens. Blame happens. Depression happens. Quitting happens. All those things happen because our eyes are fixed on the immediate. We are so near-sighted. Yet the queen of endurance, who is the most physically near-sighted person I’ve ever known, has the best vision of anyone I’ve ever known. She sees the joy that is coming at the end of the race.
In Hebrews 12 we read these encouraging words. Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Are you weary? Have you lost heart? Is your vision excessively near-sighted so that all you can see are the disabilities of life? Then refocus your eyes on the finish line. Someone who ran a much more difficult race is standing there waiting for you. Start running your race of life with endurance. Jesus did. The queen does. You can.