Matthew 5:41-42 (NIV) 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
The passage above is from Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount. He is speaking regarding the custom of Roman soldiers requiring Hebrews to carry their gear for them. Jesus says, if they want you to carry it only one mile, carry it two, go the extra mile. Following this, if you keep reading, He goes into the “love your enemies…” This is life in the second mile. Why? Because, it is challenging to do. I see life in the second mile, as the true walk – the intimate relationship with Christ. But we’ll get there later…
Let’s talk about the first mile. I was in the Army. For our physical fitness test, APFT (Army Physical Fitness Test) we had to run 2 miles. That first mile was no sweat! They would have people standing at each quarter mile, unless we ran around a track (I hated running in circles around the track), and if you wore a watch, you could time yourself – helped with pacing. The first quarter, your legs are warming up, you’re like, I’ve got this! The second quarter, still feeling good, maintaining that easy pace. Third quarter, when will this be over? Am I slowing down? Last quarter maybe a burst, but this sucks! The turnaround…
The first mile. So, you have given your life to the Lord. You love the Lord and call yourself a Christian. The beginning of your walk with Christ isn’t half bad! In fact, it feels good! You are happy, things are falling in line, life couldn’t be better! Then, one day you wake up, and realize some of those issues that you used to face BC (Before Christ) are there, waiting for you. But wait, what’s this, being a Christian has its own set of values and teachings for you to learn. Not to worry, these teachings will help you through your circumstances. The first mile can be challenging, but you barely scratch the surface. You could have run faster, and here is where you realize the race was not given to the swift, nor the battle to the strong… But, hey, you’ve been changed! You’re living for the Lord, trusting in Him, sometimes things are tough… One step forward, three steps back, no big deal – first mile life. You are just settling in, developing your relationship with Christ… For some, it’s a testing of the waters… Believe it or not, you can remain here for years upon years… I did.
Then, hooah! Second mile. The second mile on an APFT is the worst! Whether it’s the turnaround or the circles on the track, I don’t know? But, you have surely slowed down or gotten your second wind because it’s the last push. Why is the second mile so challenging? On a normal cardio day during PT you run no less than 4 miles. So, what is so challenging about 2 miles? It’s graded? It’s timed? Who knows? For all of it’s challenges the urge to stop running, the desire to give up, when those that make it to the end reach the last quarter mile, they give it their all and sprint it out! My final APFT I ran my best time ever – 13:42. I nearly puked at the end. That was my best APFT ever – 80 push-ups, 82 sit-ups… That was a great APFT. I pushed myself because I was going to the Promotion Board. Which I rock-starred! (Won “Soldier of the Quarter” and became Promotable! Was a great day!) That’s second mile living – where you see miracles take place!
Living life in the second mile for Christ… That’s the real test – that’s where He wants us. This is were you begin to get closer to Christ. You allow Him to become your everything. You develop an intimate relationship with Him. You let Him in, and He pours into you. And let me say, that is where the miracles take place. No, the second mile is not easy, by any means, but it is rewarding. When you can see yourself as He sees you – WOW! It still blows my mind! In my second mile walk with Christ, I have learned to lean on His unfailing hand. Through the dips and elevations along the road in the second mile, He leads me along the way. He guides me. He is with me. I have seen things happen that I never thought possible, as I have allowed Christ to lead me farther than I ever imagined I would be able to go. That is second mile living. You see when He puts His super on my natural – something out of this world happens – a supernatural occurrence that I could never even dream up! I have seen my own heart change, bitterness erased, wounds healed, forgiveness given and received, memory restored – it still amazes me. Though I am still a work in progress, I see how far I have come… I no longer look to the past with regret, only to the future and where He is leading me!
Christ calls us to go the second mile. How do we do this on a consistent basis – when times are tough, when life is hard, and in turn believing can be hard? He never promised that life would be easy. But, one thing I cling to is the promise that they that endure to the end will receive a crown of glory. I have tried other things – and those things let me down. I tried to walk only that first mile – 2 miles were too much – it was tiring! But, there was always that feeling that something was missing. I knew that I could do more! Going that second mile proved to me that I could go the distance! I could stretch, I could expand, I had so much more in me! He had given me so much more that I hadn’t tapped into! I had gifts to explore, talents were added. The trials – oh yeah, they are with me, and so is my Lord, a very present help in the time of trouble! I realize this more now in the second mile than I ever did before. But, “the name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous run into it and are safe.”
I heard it said like this: “Second mile life is where faith really happens. It is intentional. You don’t know what you are stepping into, the Lord is your strength. You are yoked up with Jesus, the burden is light. You get stretched in the second mile and praise God anyway.” -Pastor Mark Garcia
When I consider the above statement, I look at my own life in the second mile. We know that faith without works is dead. I have been intentional in my faith and trust in God. Intentional that He has a plan and purpose for my life. Although I may not see it and may not understand how the pieces are fitting together, especially when it hurts, I know that all things work together for the good of them that love the Lord and are called according to His purpose. So, for that, I can praise Him through the good and the bad. I can praise Him through all my circumstances. He deserves all of the praise.
Now, going back to loving our enemies… Looking at the placement in the scriptures and even the context surrounding the verse (and my own life, especially to date) I have no doubt in my mind that this requires second mile living. Now, don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t say that I have all-out-go-to-battle-enemies, however there are those who dislike me – I daresay strongly, at times. Second mile living is the ability to look them in the eye and give them a genuine smile tell them you are praying for them, because you truly are, although you can see the hatred in their eyes. Second mile living is caring about the soul rather than the thing that was done against you, or the words that were said to you, about you – because you care about the soul.
I didn’t even realize I had made it into the second mile until I was too far invested. No more one milers for me, because when I wake up and face each day, I am going the distance, I am living my life in the second mile. No matter the hills I have to climb, no matter how low the valleys into which I must descend, for I know He is with me every step of the way. My legs may become tired, I may grow weak, but blessed are they that endure until the end…