In it for the Long Haul
by Martha Nelson
Are you familiar with that phrase, “In it for the long haul”? It means that some person or perhaps a company isn’t just thinking about short term gains today or what they’re experiencing now – but they’re willing to make whatever sacrifices are necessary to finish the job or reach the goal even years down the road.
When I think of people who have made the biggest difference in my life – the friends or family I am closest to and can depend on – one thing that stands out is that they were “in it for the long haul.” Because, let’s face it, life can throw a lot at you over the years – and we all face decisions about whether to keep going no matter what – or to take what appears to be an easier way out.
The Greatest Generation
My dad was born in 1912, and came of age during the Great Depression. As the eldest son on a poor farm in northern Minnesota, he had foregone high school education to help support his family. Later, like many of that Greatest Generation, he served his country in World War II and returned to Minneapolis to marry the girl he’d stay with for the next 52 years. With little money and no higher education, he started his own excavating business with one bulldozer operated by his kid brother. They mostly dug basements in residential areas or prepared ground for new parking lots and larger buildings.
Dad’s hard work and integrity meant that his business grew and prospered -- just as his growing family did. But it never would have happened without his commitment to getting down to the shop every weekday morning at 6:00 a.m. to find work for his men (who he also felt responsible for). He held on when those many recessions hit, plowed snow in winter when construction was dead – and kept his faith in a God who could see the big picture when he couldn’t. I know Dad worried about money but he kept going – day after day.
Mom was no less committed – cutting corners on our groceries when Dad was short of payroll cash for his men. She sewed our clothes and cooked three meals a day for the six of us. I know that housekeeping routine got monotonous for her too – but both she and Dad were in it for the long haul, and their commitment made more difference in the lives of their kids than they will ever know.
Worth Sacrificing For
Perhaps you know someone whose commitment to your life also made a big difference – a relative, teacher or friend. Someone once said that nothing of value comes without sacrifice. Whether it’s a stable family life, dependable friendships, or a solid business. To succeed it requires a commitment to seeing it to the end. There are no short cuts or replacements for enduring commitment. It seems to be a law of human nature and enterprise.
Our perception of things often is limited to our earthly span of perhaps 70 to 90 years. When my parents were sacrificing for me, I didn’t fully appreciate it at the time. But have you ever thought that the Creator who made you and me was also in it “for keeps”, long before we were even born – and is committed to loving us long after our years are finished on earth?
In the Bible a poet expressed it this way: “My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. “(Psalm 139:15-16) So God’s view of His commitment to us appears to be infinite.
Another part of the Bible says, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23) He makes great sacrifices in loving us always – even when we have turned away from Him.
We may wonder: why would anyone choose to be committed to us for so long? I think the answer has to be the same as for our examples above: that relationships worth having are worth sacrificing for – and therefore God Himself, despite the pain it sometimes brings Him, is determined to love us forever -- no matter how we view Him right now. And conversely, our choice to want to understand Him more and love Him may seem daunting at first. But it could prove to be richer and more rewarding than we could have imagined.