The morning of our January outreach, I played with my daughter at the park, watching her climb a new jungle gym for the first time. She tumbled to the ground, falling pretty hard, as she tried to get down, but after a stunned moment, she climbed right back up. The next time she tried to get down, she hung her feet towards the ground, leaning over the jungle gym on her tummy, holding on tightly with her hands. She lowered her little body a centimeter at a time, trying to feel the ground beneath her which she couldn’t see. She stopped, hanging there an inch above the ground, feeling desperate and afraid that the ground was too far away. I could see how close she was, but she remembered falling the time before and she remained in her uncertainty until she heard my voice, assuring her that she was close.
I was already seeing my own life in that scene throughout the day, and arriving for prayer and worship before our outreach that night put that picture in even sharper focus as we spent time understanding the idea of perseverance.
Perseverance… finishing the race before you whether you can see the finish line or not.
Perseverance… waiting with patience and hope even when the details don’t fall in line or pace with your expectations.
Perseverance… doing the right thing even when no one gives you credit for it.
As we headed out to the East Valley with gifts in tow, we studied our list of clubs. Most of them were clubs that warmly received us, knowing who we were without introduction. One club manager even toured us around, personally interrupting each woman to make sure she received a gift. Last night, he even asked the DJ to announce the gifts over the microphone because he was so excited we were there.
But there was one club on the list that had never let us or our gifts in… ever in all of Treasure’s twelve years. But we never gave up trying to connect with the women in that club. In years past, the bouncers would give no consideration to our entry, and they said very little as to why. “Management…,” they would say, without allowing us to speak to the man in charge.
But this outreach, in the 13th year of visiting this club, a small change happened.
The first person the Treasures volunteer saw when she walked to the club entrance was a dancer she knew from another club. They embraced and briefly caught up. The dancer was so excited to see Treasures that the bouncer was confused as to whether he should ask the manager if we could come in. The bouncer could see how much joy came with us, but he was remembering his orders to decline our gifts and our entry. He eventually accepted one gift in order to show it to the manager.
“There he is!” shouted the dancer, pointing at a man in a sharp looking suit. “There is the manager!” She had overheard that we were trying to speak with him.
After twelve years of trying, in the thirteenth year, the man behind the curtain emerged. The Treasures volunteer welcomed the opportunity to speak to the manager in person and disarm his concerns and answer his questions about us. They spoke, and he still declined the gifts, but our Treasures volunteer had a chance to tell him in person that we appreciate him nonetheless.
And so we will come again to this club, persevering in building a relationship with this manager. Maybe next time is where the change will come… maybe we are only an inch from the finish line, but even if we are still miles away, the finish line is where the women are, and we will keep running the race until they have received a gift telling them how loved they are.
The women who reach out to Treasures tend to share the common theme of persevering: persevering through tricky relationships, through tough financial times, through addiction recovery, through bleak job and housing searches, through wounded confidence…. They know where their finish line is, but many are too worn from the race to go on.
If you are this woman, there is a God who knows your finish line and how wearisome your race has been. He knows whether you are miles away or only one more inch, and He will encourage you even at your most broken point. God loves you. And to help you know that, we stand on your side lines, cheering you on that next leg of the race. Inch by inch. There will be a point where you look back on your race from the finish line, and we want to be there when you do.
Don’t give up. You might only be one more inch away.
Article by Lindsay Hall