Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Going the Extra Mile

I think our culture has largely forgotten the extra mile. I know it's a hard concept for me to get my head around, let alone my actions.  I have had several recurring dreams in my life. The first one I can remember involved a huge locomotive barreling down the tracks at me - I was probably 6 years old.  Most of them involve school: showing up at school sans clothing - though usually I have a towel and/or underwear (sorry for that mental picture).  And then there's the one about forgetting my locker combination (the other night I had that dream, but I remembered the combination!).  Often I end up on my way to a final exam in a class that I had never showed up for and somehow forgot to drop (and I often don't even know where the class is going to be held). For a long time I had church-related nightmares (those stopped when I got to a place of forgiveness for some hurtful things that had happened).

But one of my frequent recurring dreams is the one about running.  You have to remember that I actually like running, but in these dreams (often I'm running a cross-country race) I can hardly move.  I'm running, but my feet feel like lead.  Kind of like how they felt when I was running the last couple of miles of the Columbus Marathon, when I couldn't lift them enough to stomp on a paper cup.  So I stop running and walk.  But I can hardly move while walking either, so I decide that I'd be better off crawling.  And that doesn't even help.  So I can hardly move.

I know, there are probably other reasons for this type of dream, but it got me to thinking about going the extra mile.  If you don't know what I'm talking about, it's when Jesus was talking to his disciples and the crowds and he told them "If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles." The idea was that the Romans could force their conquered people to carry their stuff for a mile.  That was the limit.  But Jesus tells his followers to go ahead and go way beyond what is required.

I don't know about you, but sometimes just doing what is required is hard.  It feels like those running dreams I was talking about.  My feet are made of lead.  Even when I know I should do it.  But then to go the extra mile... that's like crawling!  Uphill.  In the snow.  And honestly I don't want to do it.

But that's what Jesus is telling me to do.  And he's not just telling me to do it with a "do as I say" kind of attitude.  He lived it out.  2 Corinthians 5:21 is a good verse to take to heart: God made him who had no sin to become sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

That's a good reminder to me... to go the extra mile, because I won't travel it alone.  Jesus already walked it, and He walks it with me.

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