The Extra Mile

roman soldierBusy today? Many of us are, but I’m trying to learn to leave time to “go the extra mile.” That phrase comes from a single line in the Sermon on the Mount, “If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles” (Matthew 5:41). Back then a Roman soldier was allowed to force a Jew to carry his gear for a mile, gear that could weigh nearly 100 pounds. I think my reaction to such abuse would have been to silently, grudgingly count my steps and drop that gear the moment I met the one-mile minimum. Why would Jesus tell his followers to keep on walking?

Perhaps he wanted those who loved him to learn how to submit to earthly authority in a way that exuded peace and love. Maybe he was teaching us to serve even when it isn’t easy and when it isn’t required. Although none of us will ever be forced by a Roman soldiers to walk a mile bearing heavy gear, each of us will be faced with plenty of opportunity to, metaphorically, go the extra mile. But will we? We’re good at making excuses. Life is full. Maybe tomorrow. But let me tell you about a perfect stranger who made my day by going the extra mile.

Steve and I were in Denmark. Foreign travel is delightful, but also a bit intimidating. We had driven several hours from Copenhagen (without getting lost!) and needed to take a ferry to the island of Aero. We found the ferry, but not the parking lot where we planned to leave our car for three days. A bit perplexed, we parked in what was clearly the wrong place and headed for the nearest building, hoping someone could give us the information we needed (in English). We hadn’t walked two dozen steps before we turned to see a parking attendant writing up tickets in the lot where we’d just left our vehicle. Dashing back, we asked him where we should put our car. He could have pointed down the road and gotten back to work. Instead:

  • First he carefully described the pros and cons of two different parking locations.
  • Then he politely convinced us that we would regret leaving our car on the mainland, as there was plenty to see on Aero. He even drew a little map to his favorite spot.
  • Lastly, he took out his phone and (in Danish) called the ferry company for us and secured a reservation for our car.

We were appreciative and amazed. Later, as we drove around the island of Aero, we reflected back on how different our visit was because we had a car, a car we only had because someone had taken the time to go the extra mile.

Extra miles can be a tough assignment, but sometimes they involve a pleasant conversation with strangers in the sunshine. Both begin with an “I am willing to help you even when I don’t have to” attitude. I’m going to try to adopt that attitude today. Will you join me? And, if you have the time, will you tell me about a day when someone went the extra mile for you?

Extra info: Here’s a quick follow-up to last week’s post. This is from Steve’s recent fortune cookie. (Yes, I know, fortune cookies are made with “the bad stuff.” There’s plenty of room for an occasional indulgence in any eating plan.) It said, “Eat your fruits and vegetables to strengthen your health.” I kid you not. He insisted I post it, so I am being the cooperative wife here. Furthermore, I was delighted with a couple of comments friends posted regarding the way a new eating plan renewed their health. You can read those here: Last week’s comments.

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2 thoughts on “The Extra Mile

  1. In a post that I read from Sarah Bessey this morning, she said – Their lives are a cadence I want to carry:

    others first,

    pay attention,

    open heart,

    work well,

    rest radically,

    open doors,

    live prophetically,

    make room in your life to be inconvenienced,

    challenge,

    love well –

    be brave together.

    That make room to be inconvenienced really “SPOKE” to me, and then I get your post about going the extra mile. I think someone is trying to tell me something! 🙂

    Here’s the link to the whole post if you want to read it:

    http://sarahbessey.com/brave-together/#comment-2455376631

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