A cotton candy breeze mixed with the faint yet distinct odor of diesel washed over the sea of humanity. Laughter and screams of excited fairgoers could be heard above the clinging and clanging of the carnival rides and midway games.
The year was someplace in the 1960’s and my parents were on a date. It might have been the excitement of being with a cute guy, or perhaps she was all hyped up on sugar, but my mom decided to try her hand at the sledgehammer game! She had been eyeing the adorable stuffed animal prizes all evening. The attendant yelled “Step right up! Step right up!” So step up they did. Mom paid the man her dollar and turning to my dad, said what countless women have said right before they do something epic— “Hold my purse!” She picked up the sledge hammer and raised her arms high above her head with farm girl grit and determination. When the hammer fell the light meter began to climb… 5 feet… 10 feet… Until it reached the top at 15 feet! Bells chimed, people cheered, and mom eagerly awaited her reward. Her eyes were still scanning the selection of stuffed animals when the attendant congratulated her and handed her a tootsie pop. Yes, a mere sucker which she and dad thought appropriate because they felt like one as they laughed and walked away.
The next day at church there was a woman passing out candy, which happens at small rural churches more often than you’d think. She gave everyone – you guessed it – tootsie pops! Dad leaned in and whispered to mom jokingly how she had had to pay a hard-earned dollar for hers the night before!
Life’s not a county fair or even fair, but there is a place with no disappointments. Ephesians 3:19 and 20 tells us “…Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that is at work within us.” Be encouraged how God gives us exceedingly more, above and beyond what we ask or think.
One could say He goes the extra mile, a well-used phrase we get from scripture. In Matthew 5:41 Jesus commands us to go the extra mile. He was referencing a law in which a Roman soldier could make a Jewish person carry their heavy gear one mile. Jesus told his listeners to go two! The first mile is obligation; the 2nd mile is a personal decision.
My husband Jeff provides me an example. He mows our lawn every week and often mows our neighbors’ as well. Once he was mowing four lawns because of sprained ankles or sicknesses. And just this week he drove me home to West Virginia on a work day going the extra 292 miles! We all have people in our lives that go the extra mile and we are called to do the same. Imagine what that would look like in our marriage, our jobs, and our friendships.
There was a woman in the Bible who went above and beyond. Rebekah was at the well and when asked for a drink of water she offered to water the man’s camels too. He had 10 camels and if each one can drink 20 to 30 gallons that’s a lot of water! On that day Rebekah‘s actions rewarded her more than a tootsie pop— a place in the lineage of Jesus’ family tree (and some pretty cool gold jewelry.)
You never know how God will use your extra mile to bless you or others. Just like on that fair date long ago if we listen we might hear someone prompting us to “Step right up!” And maybe it’s about time to turn to someone with new found energy and say “Hold my purse!”
Janet Cowger- Fliegel