The Last Six Miles
[Special Guest Blog by Joy Houssney of Horizons International]
While studying Biblical Archaeology in college, I had opportunity to spend a semester in the Middle East. There, I met Muslim women, saw their need for personal relationship with God, and was able to share my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ with another student friend, a Muslim. Unbeknown to me, God used my halting witness to bring this girl to salvation. When he allowed me to find out what had happened to her by allowing us to meet randomly some seven months later and half a world away, it was his clear call for me to follow him to the Muslim world.
In November of 1970, I arrived in Beirut, joining a community of six women from five countries. Half of us had traveled more than 6000 miles to get there, and we had one common purpose. Together we would reach out with the Word of God and the love of Jesus to Muslim women students at the English-language universities. We soon found ourselves relating to Lebanese, Jordanian, Bahraini, Saudi and Kuwaiti women. Just one generation earlier, most of these women could never have gone to school, but now, here they were, at universities in Lebanon. Believe me, those were exciting days!
Soon we had enough contacts to begin an evening Bible study in our little apartment. We lived between the two major universities, about 1.5 miles down a rather steep hill from the women's college. Because some of these friends were protected Arab Gulf women, they would never consider venturing out alone at night. But if we arrived to escort them, they would come. Imagine the opportunity to open the Bible, present the gospel and show our lovely Jesus to these women!
Having journeyed over 6000 miles for the opportunity, those last six miles became the test of our characters. At the end of a full day, which of us would, when it came to where the rubber meets the road, walk up a hill and down a hill twice, for a total of six miles, to share Jesus' love and God's Word with these women? I am sad to say that most of us failed that test of those last six miles. We knew that Christ had gone all the way for us, but few of us, it seemed, cared enough to go the distance for him. Those few who would go carried the burden.
Often, in the years that have grown into being since then, I have pondered the meaning of those last six miles. For me, they illustrate the difference between starting out strong and finishing well, between dabbling at being a runner versus completing the big race. Thinking about doing a job is all well and good, but in the end, what matters is getting the job done.
Those last six miles have taught me about what CS Lewis called "the pang of the particular." There is always something very real and rather ordinary, perhaps even something that looks trivial but is actually essential, something that must be done if one is to succeed. If we ignore that aspect of our work, we cannot accomplish much. Can you put your finger on what "those last six miles" are for you? Will you go the distance?