Going the extra mile

 “If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.”

Matthew 5:41

photo courtesy iwanbeijes sxc.hu

photo courtesy iwanbeijes sxc.hu

“The extra mile is never crowded”

Or so a church sign boasted. I confess, the glib statement kicked up some unholy thoughts. You see at the time I passed the sign, I happened to be running mile 20 of a 22 mile run. I was literally in the extra mile.

During my marathon training, every couple weeks my “long run” got longer. Those “extra” miles are pure torture. It’s like your body and your brain hit a wall.

On this particular day, everything from my waist down was numb. My legs were on autopilot and my brain was screaming “stop!”

The mental battle went like this:

“You know, the lights are off on that house. Those people are still cozied up in bed. That’s where you should be.”

No. This is worth it.

“Really? This much sacrifice? Four hours out of your morning? Most people never do this and they are perfectly happy.”

But it’s such an accomplishment. 

“So is sleeping in.”

I finally just stopped and started singing “la, la, la not listening.”

The thing about extra miles is just that. They’re extra. They aren’t required. They are above and beyond. And if you don’t go them, you’ll probably be quite happy just where you are.

But what if…

What if you could have a grand adventure? What if you could have the satisfaction of doing something you never thought you could do? What if that little extra could change your whole life? What if that little extra changed someone else’s life for the better? What if that little extra opened doors you never could have imagined? What if you just have to push through the pain to see what amazing things are waiting?

When Jesus told his disciples in Matthew 5 to go with people one extra mile, he was probably referring to a Roman law that required a citizen to carry a Roman soldier’s equipment and cloak for one mile if asked. Jesus told his followers, in a sense, don’t just do what’s required of you. Do a little extra. Serve a little more. Unselfishly give a bit more.

This unselfish manner of giving and serving others above and beyond what’s required of you is supposed to be a trait that distinguishes Jesus followers from others.

It’s a way to show love.

Be prepared – it’s far from easy.

It’s painful, exhausting, and uncomfortable. It will cost you your time, your energy, your resources. But your biggest obstacle will be your mind.

Sometimes we see the problems in the world and think there’s nothing we can do. But we can. One extra mile at a time. One phone call, one card, one cup of coffee, one e-mail, one meal at a time.

Do something unexpected for someone today.

Is there someone you’ve been thinking about calling? Maybe she’s on your mind for a reason. Call her right now. Don’t give yourself time to forget or talk yourself out of it.

Write a letter or send a card for no reason other than to let someone know they are important to you.

When you run errands, leave your phone in your purse or the car. Look at the people around you. Smile, say hi, make conversation with the cashier, really see the greeter and say Hi, not just over your shoulder as you walk by.

I think many people are hurting just below the surface, and are waiting for someone to show they care. Be that person.

I dare you to go the extra mile.

Amelia Rhodes lives near Grand Rapids, Michigan and has been married to her high school sweetheart, Kedron, for 15 years. She is also mama to two young children. If she’s not writing, you’ll find her in the garden, at the sewing machine, or out running. Amelia is a contributing author to Chicken Soup for the Soul’s books “Here Comes the Bride” and “Inspiration for Writers.” Her first full-length book “Isn’t it Time for a Coffee Break? Doing life together in an all-about-me world,” takes a humorous and practical look at relationships. Filled with Bible-based encouragement and real-life stories, it is perfect for personal or small group study.

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