At daybreak this morning I was running near my home on the west side of El Paso. The neighborhood near my home is nestled on the lower slopes of the Franklin Mountains, so running near my home has taken a dramatic change from the flat lands of the Texas Panhandle. Now I have to plan my route to avoiding running uphill too much–it is inevitable you will have to run uphill some, but hopefully not too much.
This morning I was running a slightly different route than usual and found myself having to run uphill for approximately half a mile to get home. As I was struggling up the hill gasping for air (I am sure I was a sight to see), and blue truck slowed down and the man behind the hill rolled down his window. At this point I suspected he need directions around the neighborhood or even worse he might be one of the members of my church who caught me on the streets looking a little less than pastoral. However, to my surprise when the window came to a stop he smiled at me, gave me a thumbs up sign, and yell “good job” and then drove off.
I doubt he was an angel, but his thumbs up gave me a burst of energy, and brought a little smile to my face. I was less than half way up the mountain, but with his boost of encouragement I was ready to finish the race. As I finished my run I thought about his simple gesture. In the midst of his busy morning, as he probably was heading for work, he stopped and gave a struggling stranger a thumbs up. I could see a friend stopping to cheer me on, but a total stranger. I want to grow up to be like him!
In the book of Hebrews you find these words:
12 See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. Heb 3:12-13 (NIV)
We live in a world where the weight and pull of sin and its addictive side effects constantly attack those seeking to live holy lives. It appears so much easier to just live into the crowd, and jump on the downhill highway. Running uphill spiritually drains you. Running uphill spiritually is often a lonely endeavor. However, running uphill spiritually is also how you build muscle and develop endurance.
When you see someone struggling to be all God wants them to be, instead of finding fault in their form or even their struggling, stop and give them a thumbs up! Notice in Hebrews the writers says:
Encourage one another daily
Once a week is not going to cut it. So today in the midst of your busy schedule make a point to slow down and give someone a thumbs up! You may never know how much they need it–it may make all the difference in the world between giving up or getting up the hill.