It’s hard to not grow weary of the fight. It’s hard to be faithful, at least faithful as we see it, you know what I mean? To maintain a mindset that is set on the Lord and the things of the Lord, to keep our eyes on Jesus. It’s hard to not get discouraged and not give in to the notion that we must have missed it somewhere, that all our struggle is for naught. It’s hard to be the responsible parent, the loving supportive spouse, the story book endings always seem to be for someone else.
It’s hard because we know what it is supposed to be, what it can be if Jesus is kept the center of all, if the world had not chosen to turn away from God and choose its own path. We know because we have that knowledge planted in our hearts, it is alive in us through the holy Spirit, we have tasted the Kingdom and it is ours but we are still stuck in this one where the Devil still runs roughshod- apparently laughing with glee, as we all struggle with; “Why? Why is it so hard?” -Or maybe it’s just me.
Feeling discouraged a few weeks ago I was praying on my way home from Miles City: “Lord, it seems I have so many promises that have yet to be fulfilled, it’s getting harder and harder to keep trusting the promises, and the struggle to be godly never seems to get easier. Have you given up on me?”
And the Lord answered;
If you don’t give up on me, I won’t give up on you.
Back in 2003 I was doing a job at the Billings water treatment plant. Long story short, one of the things we had to do was to fill a couple of 5 foot square holes in a 2-foot thick concrete wall in the lower level of the pump station to accommodate the new pumps that would draw water from the Yellowstone River. So we drilled holes in the perimeter of the openings for rebar dowels and tied the rebar into place, formed up both sides of the opening leaving a small opening in the top of one side for the concrete to be placed via a concrete pump.
The only way to get the hose from the pump truck into the form was by dropping it down the 30’ deep shaft on the river side of the walls after pulling the hose through the front and rear doors of the pump house. As usual we are on a tight schedule and we have to get this done and get the new pumps on line for the city.
So I schedule concrete for mid-afternoon, the soonest we can be ready. The trucks arrive and we got the 4” rubber hose from the pump truck dragged through the building and down the shaft and start pumping concrete. I had an older hand named Dennis helping me wrestle the hose down in the shaft and to run the vibrator.
Dennis was a good hand and reliable but not a real ball of fire. I used to tease him, “Dennis, you’re not very fast but you sure are slow!” He knew I liked him and always chuckled when I told him that. I liked Dennis because he mostly just kept his head down, his mouth shut and did his job.
Up above I had another hand whom we’ll call Benny. Benny was a good hand, a hard worker and got stuff done but he was ornery and liked to grumble a lot and never stopped talking, mostly about all his concrete expertise.
So we’re filling the hole with concrete. I had to really wet it up to get it to pump through 80’ or so of hose and you know what happens when you add water to concrete? It knocks down the air content. We had a spec that said we had to have a certain amount of air in the concrete and an inspector who never gave an inch on anything and I had told the batch plant to make sure there was good air in the mix.
When the first form was about two thirds of the way full I got word from the tester that the air content was a percentage point or two off so I was forced to reject the load and had no choice but to pull the hose, now very heavy with concrete, out of the shaft, back through the building, pull off the form and clean the freshly placed concrete out of the opening we were trying to fill.
This of course did not make anyone, especially me, very happy. Apparently I said a bad word or two in the process of yelling instructions up to the folks above and arguing with the truck driver while Dennis and I were frantically trying to pull the forms and dig all the mud out of the hole before it set up, because, yes, it is hard to be godly all the time in the construction world.
It was about 4:30 or so by this point the end of a hard day and we just wanted to be done but I was grateful that Dennis had stayed to help me as we ended up digging the concrete out with our bare hands from around the rebar in the hole, having to get every last bit so that it wouldn’t contaminate the rebar when we re-poured it the next day.
It took a while but we got it all cleaned out and scrubbed off the rebar with a wire brush and ready to try again the next day.
I say I was glad Dennis was there because Benny had deserted us. I had called up for him to help and was informed by the pump truck driver that he had left. What!? We’re not done, who does he think he is?
The next day he simply said; “Hey, it was quitting time.” I heard him tell someone some time later that he knew “If things are bad enough for Dan to start cussing, it’s time to leave.” I try not to cuss and I usually don’t, but as I told Donna, sometimes shucky darn just doesn’t cut it in the world of construction where yes, try as I might, it is hard to always be godly. But at the end of the day, the job has to be done, happy or mad, easy or frustrating, is irrelevant. Quitting time comes when the job is finished.
So, who is the real concrete hand here? The one who spend all day telling stories about what a great concrete hand he was yet left before the job was done, or the quiet slow one who was as dependable as the sunrise and stayed till the job was finished no matter how unpleasant it might be? Guess who was still with me a couple of months later when I only need one helper.
At the end of the day, it is not who talked the best game, it’s who is still there, the ones left standing.
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. 2 Tim 4:8
Things will go wrong and yes, it’s hard, and can be frustratingly difficult but it’s not about being perfect and always having a sunny attitude; it’s about being there. The true church will prevail, and the true father, the true mother is the one who is there for their family- no matter how hard- it’s worth it.