52 square miles of barb-wire fence surrounds the property at Fish and Cross Ranch. This fence keeps the livestock in the places they need to be and set boundaries for the property. This fence has stood for more years then anyone can count. It is supposed to be strong and sturdy, able to stand against the fierce winters, falling trees, and wildlife that crosses its boarders.
Yet every summer a crew of one to four guys has to go out and mend the 52 square miles of fence. Long, hard hours of tedious, sometimes back breaking work. The fence stood its ground during the winter, as best it could, but low and behold the weight of the snow, fallen aspen trees, and the jumping elk have left it broken and fallen. At times the crew is a full fledged team….four guys out there working the fence, fixing miles and miles in a day. This team encourages one another, motivating each other to keep working and finish strong. There is accountability when three other guys are working along side you. If your section of the fence does not hold up, someone is there to guide you and tell you to fix it so it does not bring the whole thing down. The team brings comfort and encouragement to one another, urging each other to finish what they have started.
Other times the crew is just one member…a lone young man working the fence, feeling alone and overwhelmed with the miles that must be completed. The fence stretches out before him, seemingly never ending. The wire he is mending snaps under the pressure of his pliers. The fence is sagging from the weight of a large aspen tree that has fallen further down the line. He sizes it up, realizing that he is going to have to go full lumberjack in order to remove it. Oh how he longs for someone to come along and help him! But no one is coming. He was asked by his boss to do this job and see it through. He can hear the echo of his boss saying, “always finish what you start.” He takes a deep breath, looks to the sky and prays for the strength to continue on. Although there is no one physically present to keep him accountable he knows that if he slacks off, or walks away there will be more trouble when the fence falls to the ground because he did not finish what he started. He wipes the sweat from his brow, tightens the strap on his gloves and presses on to finish what he has started.
When we have a team of people surrounding us and holding us accountable we are able to “stir up one another to love and good works” (Hebrews 10:25). The encouragement of a mentor, friend, parent, or teammate can make any load seem light. Yet when we are alone the battle seems difficult. Friends, we must take heart in these moments and trust in the assurance that the “Lord will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). As we press on to finish the tasks before us we need to approach them with the mind of Christ. As Paul writes in Colossians, “whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3:23-24).