No, this isn’t a postmortem on the finale of the baseball season for my San Francisco Giants. Instead, I was inspired by the sermon yesterday at my church. The reference was about the 40th and final year in which the Israelites were wandering in the desert after escaping slavery in Egypt, and just before they were about to enter the Promised Land. As you might imagine, those 40 years presented many serious challenges, and that was after the miraculous task of getting out of Egypt in the first place.
After all they had gone through, they had to defeat two kings and their people as their final challenges. If you’ve ever played video games, well, you probably get the idea of having to go through several different levels in order to get to the next challenge.
When my pastor was reminding us of this story, my head went to the old Bruce Lee movie, Game of Death, in which he had to fight his way up several levels of a pagoda. Each level brought a new and more difficult opponent. The top and final level found him face to face…well, not literally, with a giant who was a good two feet taller than he was. (You can look it up on YouTube if you want to go back and watch the scenes.)
Where am I going with this? Thanks for asking. I find myself at a place in my life where I have gone through a lot of recent challenges. Who hasn’t? But what is unique to me as I look back is that the past couple years have found me circling back to many things which have popped in my life through the years. Old and familiar foes. In other words, I don’t know that I had really progressed to new levels because I never really beat some of the giants it takes to move on to new heights. But now, I look back on several challenges which have confronted me in the past year or so, and I see the carcasses of many old nemeses from my past. Things which would have set me back before, now litter the path behind me, lifeless and defeated.
I believe my personal Promised Land still lies ahead of me, but at the same time, there is that one giant in my way who has kicked my butt many times in the past. Before you get sidetracked thinking it’s some sort of scandalous moral thing, don’t go there. It’s not that. What it is for me is not what is important. The point is, we all have these things in our lives which have been our Kryptonite. It’s that thing that sneaks up on us when we’re sailing along, or that thing that is the “last straw” that breaks us.
The key is, don’t give up! The land has already been promised to us! The victory is already won! You’re right on the edge of the breakthrough! It is so tragic that so many people give up when the promise is just on the other side of the hill. If you look back, you’ll see the remnants of the victories won. Yes, there is a giant ahead of you, but despite his appearance, he’s no match for you and God!
It is a new week. This week will have its challenges for each of us. I know I’m facing my giant. But I also know that there are blessings lined up ahead of me. I can actually see some of the challenges and blessings coming my way, while others are unforeseen. All, however, are in God’s timing and control. Whatever is in front of you, God has given you the land! I don’t know what level of the “pagoda” you’re on. But wherever you are, face it, defeat it, and move on. Don’t sit there and celebrate it to the point that you become satisfied. Enjoy the moment, but move on to the next level. Remain persistent! Remain passionate!
God has more for you, but you have to want it, and you have to go for it!