"They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.  But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near.  I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."
- 2 Timothy 4:4-7

Technology can be a wonderful thing. I remember back in the "old days" when we would set out on a journey and the first thing we would do was pull out the old road map and plot a course. We would find where we were currently, find where we wanted to go and with the help of a pencil and ruler we would plot the most efficient way to get there. Now all I have to do is ask my phone how to get to where I am going and it will plan my course based on road closures, the fastest route and which has the most Tim Horton's along the way (just kidding about the last one - that will be the next thing:). However I chart my course, neither Google maps nor the paper copy can get me where I am going-  for that, I have to participate. I have to get out of my house, get in my vehicle, put it in drive, make sure there is gas in the tank and start driving. Along the way there can be changes to what was considered the best course because of detours, weather delays and road closures. I can decide to stop along the road, make a random detour or just give up on my trip and turn around and go back where I started.

The Christian life also requires us plotting a course to get to our destination. It requires that we know where we are going, create a plan to get there and then begin the journey. There are times when the road is clear, the sun is shining and the drive is easy. We are making good time, enjoying the scenery and nothing seems to be getting in our way. At other times, the road is rough and filled with detours, full stops and bumpy roads which  forces us from the route we had chosen and it may seem like the best option we have is to simply give up, turn around and go back to what we have always knows.

If ever there was anyone who could have decided to turn around and give up it was the Apostle Paul. His litany of misery because of the gospel is legendary and includes, shipwreck, beatings, stoning, imprisonment and mistreatment at the hands of friend and foe alike. While sitting in prison for his faith it would have been easy to look at his situation and at least alter his course if not abandon it completely. Instead he writes this, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race."

There are times for all of us that we are tempted to alter our course, stop our progress or simply turn around and go in a different direction. Maybe today, that is where you are in your life? Maybe you feel as though the way is too hard and it's not worth the effort. May I encourage you to carry on and persevere even through the most severe trials because of what Paul says next, "Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing."

Allow me to leave you with this song and may it echo through your soul as you go about your day.

Valiant soldier, marching to the fray,
Keep in step all the time.
Do not lag or falter by the way,
Keep in step all the time.
You may find the way is long and drear,Many dangers may cause you to fear;
Do not give in but strive and persevere
And keep in step all the time.

Keep in step all the time,
Keep in step all the time;
Don't fall out and rest for a while,
Follow Jesus all the way, and smile.
Keep in step all the time,
Keep in step all the time;
You will find each day your pathway easy
If you keep in step all the time.

Valiant soldier, you must not despair,
Keep in step all the time.
Follow Jesus gladly everywhere,
Keep in step all the time.
March on bravely o'er the battlefield,
In the mighty conflict never yield,
But trust in Jesus, he's your guide and shield,
So keep in step all the time.

Valiant soldier, fighting for the Lord,
Keep in step all the time;
Don your armor, take your shield sword,
Keep in step all the time.
Forward, forward, 'tis the Lord's command,
In the cause of right now take your stand,
Go marching forward to the promised land,
And keep in step all the time.

Mike Hoeft
Area Commander
Prairie West/ Emergency and Disaster Services Director
Prairie Division