Most of the time when I decide to write something, it’s because something pops into my head and it plays itself out as a story. Sometimes I have an idea of what I want to say, but I can’t find out how I want to say it. And some of those times, when I’m not sure how I want to say what it is I want to say, I find myself looking at ways to inspire me.

I recently took this approach, and it has now left me discouraged and heartbroken. So instead of writing the story, I’m going to go about this a different way.

My plan was to write something about some of the predictions made by Christians about future events, and interpretations about current events. The point I wanted to make is that even Jesus said that neither He, nor the angels in Heaven knew when His return would be. But He also said that you should be ready, just like the servant should be ready when his master returns. When the master returns and sees the servant doing what is right, then the servant will be rewarded for his actions. He told us of signs of the end of the age and said these things were the beginning of birth pains. He did not say that when you see one event or another that He would return the next day or the next week. He said these things must be so, so be prepared. And from what I have read, I don’t see anything saying that we should threaten or criticize others for not having our same viewpoint. He does, however, warn about false prophets. So to my point, it shouldn’t matter if He returns in ten days, ten years, a hundred years, or a thousand years; just continue to do what is right.

But in my searches to see the reactions of people, and find out how to incorporate this into a story, I confirmed something that I already knew but I think I was in denial about the extent of it. It seems that some of the “warnings” of people has created an enormous division that is way beyond repair. But I wonder if when Jesus said, “The world will hate you because of me,” He knew that this hate of Christians would be the direct result of the actions taken by some Christians themselves. These actions become the focal point of people who do not believe, and become a reason for people to immediately dismiss Christianity as ridiculous. And I have witnessed within my own friends this contempt for the Church. I have touched on this before in previous posts, but I think it has finally hit me with its full weight.

So now here I sit, with a brain full of sorrow. I should be happy that this is one more piece of evidence that Jesus really did know what he was talking about. Anyone who knows me can verify that I am not an optimistic person, but you don’t have to be optimistic to be hopeful. Part of me was hopeful that the love I show toward others would be more powerful than the evil in this world.

The Journey

The other day I decided to go for a jog, but the entire trail I wanted to take was uphill. I knew it would be difficult. I knew I would be sore. But I also knew it would be worth it when I was finished. So I set off on my run.

When I started out I was a little hesitant because of what was ahead, but as I got going I started feeling better about it. I came across many people as I went along my run. Some of them were going the same direction as I was, and some of those people were passing me because they were in better shape than I was. But there were also people I was passing.

As I passed these people, or as they passed me, we would generally say “hi” and continue our pace. Sometimes the slower person would speed up, as if motivated by the effort put in by the faster person. But as I ran, I noticed that some of the people, even though they were running the same direction, would start to hurl insults on me. If they were running faster than I was, they would say that I wasn’t really putting enough effort in, and I might as well have stayed at home. If I were running faster, they would tell me that I was just there to show off and make them feel bad, and that I wasn’t really on this trail to enjoy the beauty of it. But what I found interesting was that I noticed my pace would slow no matter which group was discouraging me.

There were also people running the opposite direction. As was with the group running in my same direction, most of the time we would exchange a polite “hello” and continue on. Some of these people would give encouragement and cheer me on. Some would appreciate the effort I was putting in, and seemed to be inspired enough to turn around and follow me back up the hill.

But the same as with those running in my same direction, I found myself being insulted by a few of the people who were running downhill. Some of these people would tell me that what I was doing was pointless, and that I wasn’t benefiting from running the direction I was. They would tell me that I was wasting my time. Some people would just insult me and criticize me, but didn’t have much to say about the benefit or why they thought downhill was the better direction. They just said that I was dumb for running the route I was. And again, I found that as I was insulted I would slow my pace.

But after I had been running a while I had something occur to me, and after a while I realized that my pace had increased, and I wouldn’t slow down as a result of the insults from others. I spent the beginning part of my run analyzing the possible thought process of those who would criticize me, and I tried to think of responses that could allow them to see my point of view. But I realized that this was of little use. I wouldn’t be able to change the point of view of these people, because they already had it in their mind that I was in the wrong. Instead, I would encourage all of the people who were not insulting me. And I found that it didn’t matter whether I initiated the encouragement, or someone else did, we would both step up our pace, even if it were just very slightly. And the more I encouraged others, the more they in turn would encourage people they came across.

By the time I reached the top and completed my run I felt drained. I was sweaty, I was sore, and I was exhausted. But at the end I knew it was all worth it, even if it was just to help the people running the trail along with me.