The torrential rains came and the driveway and walkway to the house became a mud pit. Then the temperatures plummeted, freezing everything rock solid. Foot prints, once as soft as frosting, became as sharp as volcanic rock. Walking across them is not too bad when you are wearing thick rubber boots but imagine stepping on them in your bare feet which is what dogs have to do to when they come and go.
The Budster has been having a rough time of it lately, walking back and forth across what used to be mud that is now no man’s land, or should I say, no dog’s land. He tries to navigate to the side into the softer snow but if he happens to step onto the sharp ridges of frozen mud, he crumbles in pain. He can’t walk across the area without obvious physical distress. It hurts and he is immediately down on his knees or elbows or whatever you want to call the bendy parts of his legs.
The dictionary defines a tenderfoot as a person who is not used to living in rough conditions or outdoors. One might think that the Budster’s feet are tender but this is the dog who spent the last nine years of his life braving the elements. He, of all dogs, should be used to walking across anything and everything. We’ve noticed that he doesn’t like walking through puddles or the icky mud. That means he’s smart. He doesn’t mind walking in the snow at all, in fact, he’s a snow eater. As he walks along, he’ll sometimes casually dip his head and drag his tongue across the snow for a refreshing snack. I’ve never seen a dog do that before. It’s just one of the many little quirks he has that are so endearing, but when he steps from the snow onto the rough, frozen remnants of journeys past, he becomes incapacitated. The Budster is not a tenderfoot, he’s old. He bears the scars of hardship. Because of this, we lead him down the gentler path that he deserves.
Until recently, I’ve been known to walk barefoot all of the time. Through rain, heat, snow, across dirt, rocks and seething asphalt parking lots, I traveled sans shoes. I would run barefoot outside in the snow, grab an armload of firewood and dash back into the house. The Missus thought I was nuts but I did that for decades. Once you get the pads of your feet toughened up, you can traverse nearly any terrain, but that was then and this is now. My wife wonders if I might be getting a little smarter in my old age but the feets ain’t what they used to be and neither is my body’s ability to fend off the consequences of reckless behavior. I’m not a tenderfoot, I’m tired. (Did ya notice I didn’t say ‘old’?)
Years of being tough will eventually catch up with us. Enduring constant struggle will take its toll on body, mind and spirit. In my day, I was a force to be reckoned with and I can still stomp a mud hole in yer butt if the spirit moves me but these days I prefer a gentler path if at all possible. I can still cut, split and stack firewood with the best of them. I can move, haul, chop, throw, shoot and ride as well if not better than the young’uns but I don’t want to anymore. The day may come when I am forced to do all of those things again and I think it will, but I’d rather it didn’t. I am ready, willing and able but not so eager.
Jesus warned of evil days ahead.
9 Then they will hand you over to be persecuted and will kill you. You will be hated by all the nations because of my name. 10 Then many will be led into sin, and they will betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will appear and deceive many, 12 and because lawlessness will increase so much, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the person who endures to the end will be saved.
What is already unfolding before us won’t be a short season of deadly hardship, it will seem to go on forever and very few will survive.
The 22nd verse of the same chapter says, “And if those days had not been cut short, no one would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.”
We won’t escape. We won’t be raptured out before tribulation arrives because it is already here. “But the person who endures to the end will be saved.”
Some folks might be willing but they aren’t ready or able. They’re not tough enough. They haven’t proved to themselves let alone anyone else that they can endure hardship, real soul crushing, spirit breaking hardship. They are tenderfoots whether they want to admit it or not. It will take more than willingness and cheerful confidence to survive what lies ahead.
Another admonition to buckle up.
Behold I come quickly. Hold fast that which you have so that no one can take your crown.
What do you mean someone could take my crown? It’s at risk? But Pastor Bob said once saved always saved. What’s with this endure and hold fast stuff? Why don’t you ask Pastor Bob?
You might say that Buddy endured until the end and was saved. He held fast to what he had. He walked through the valley of the shadow of death for a very long time but he didn’t let his hardships destroy him and because of that he received a reward. He is finally home.
I know a lot of us have seen hard times and I mean really hard times, the kind of stuff that would kill most folks. I know you must be tired but we aren’t done until it’s over. God only gives us what He knows we can handle. Just imagine those who have not experienced all that you have. Perhaps there is a good reason God didn’t lead them down a rough path like yours.
With all that is happening in the world today, this is no time to be a tenderfoot. It’s going to take more than prayer, willingness and confidence to see us through. Why else would there be so many warnings in the Bible for us to be sober, be vigilant and be tough enough to endure to the end?
When we finally make it across the finish line, many of us will be completely tore up and worn out but God will be there and we will finally be home.
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