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Written by: Abigail Atkins
My mother in law and I recently went to a Joyce Meyers conference out of town. My mother in law loves the teachings of Joyce Meyers, so for her birthday she wanted so badly to attend the conference. Excited and full of enthusiasm, we packed our bags and drove about four hours to go see Joyce. The show was to start at 9:30 a.m. We arrived at about 8:00 a.m. Much to our surprise, there was a big sign in the church parking lot that said, “Filled to capacity”. There were police officers directing traffic, and we noticed that some people had begun to park in an empty parking lot across the street. Still full of hope, we followed the crowd, and parked across the street as well. We gathered our things and as we were walking toward the church, we were stopped by a gentleman that said, “They’re filled and they’re not letting anyone else in. May as well get back in the car and save yourself that long walk.”
We noticed that a crowd of people were returning to their cars across the street as well. I stopped one of the ladies in the crowd and asked her if they were turning people away. She confirmed that the church was packed and no one else could get in. My mother in law was so disappointed. It was her birthday. This was the only thing she had wanted for her birthday, we had come so far, we had arrived so early, but still, it looked like we had missed out.
We went back to our car, and just sat there for a while. I searched my phone, trying to find something else that she might enjoy doing while we were here, out of town. And, she searched her phone trying to find out what the earliest time they would start letting people in to the 1:30 show later that day would be. After a few minutes of defeat, a sweet little lady tapped on our window.
“Hello. I noticed you all were sitting in your car. My name is Juanita. Do you know what time we can go in to the 1:30 show? I would guess we would need to be here pretty early.”
We chatted with sweet, loving Juanita for a few minutes, when a couple more ladies passed by. “We’re going, whether they let us in or not,” they said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen, but we’re going to get in that line.”
A glimmer of hope flashed across my mother in law, and Juanita’s face. “Do you think we should go too?”
Those two ladies renewed our hope, our faith. We jumped out of the car, and marched across that street with our three new friends. Along the way, we were stopped by an officer that was directing traffic.
“Look,” she said, “They’re full. There are still people waiting outside in line as you can see, but no one else is getting in right now. There is a 1:30 show later, but since the people that are in there now are not required to leave, there’s no guarantee you will get in to that show either.”
Another shot to our confidence…
We looked at each other, and discussed our options.
“We might not even get in at all today… Look at that line, there must be 100 people still standing in line…”
About that time, two more ladies crossed our path. One said, “I don’t care, I came this far, I’m not turning back now.”
The other with determination said, “I don’t care if I don’t get in, I’ll have church myself standing right out there in that line.”
On we marched, with our growing posse!
At this point, I was thinking to myself, even if we don’t get in, this has already been the best experience. Everyone that we had come across was so kind and loving and accepting and happy. I wished that life was like this every day and everywhere and all the time. What a world it would be if we all opened our hearts to love one another as we did that moment that day.
We made it all the way across the street, all the way up to the church, all the way to the back of the long line, and it began to rain. But, we talked to one another, as if we knew each other already, as if we loved each other already, as if we were sisters in Christ. And, I kid you not, we may have stood in that line five minutes when they opened the doors and let us in.
I am reminded of the Bible verse from Matthew 5:41, “If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.”
That day, we were surrounded by people that were not only willing to go with us that one mile, they inspired us to go on a little further, and a little further still, until we all rejoiced together when we arrived at the door and it opened for us all.
There is a story in Mark chapter two about a man that was paralyzed. His four friends brought him to see Jesus, but there was such a crowd gathered to see Jesus that they could not get him in to see Jesus. But these four friends didn’t just go with him one mile, they went with him two. They didn’t give up. They climbed onto the roof, dug a hole in the roof and lowered the man down to see Jesus. His sins were forgiven that day, and his body was healed.
I don’t know about you, but those are the kinds of friends I want in my corner. Those are the kinds of friends I want carrying my mat.
I was having a talk once with my dad about how a friend had done me wrong. And, he said to me, “When those are the kinds of people you surround yourself with, those are the kinds of things you can expect to happen.”
Choose your friends wisely. And not only that, but I am convicted to question myself by asking, what kind of friend am I? Could my friends count on me to carry their mat? Could they count on me to encourage them? Could they count on me not only to go one mile with them, but to go two?
There are times when I am tired, and life gets overwhelming. But, when I think of the times when people have been there to carry my mat for me, to dig through the rooftops for me, I am truly grateful. I don’t know what I would have done without these people in my life. They inspire me to try harder, to do more, to love better, and to be more selfless.
The message today is simple. Let’s try harder to be good, loving friends to the people that God has put in our life. Let’s strive harder to be more encouraging. Let’s choose wisely the people we would trust to carry our mat.