Some days I feel as if I'm in the test of my life. Sometimes you realize you're dealing with stuff that originated before you were even born. In addition to your own stuff, you're directly affected by other people's issues and beefs; secrets and lies; failures and indiscretions, but you still have to keep things moving. If you're like me, the test is difficult people. An old friend admonished me to "stop running and confront". I took the advice, found my voice and even at my age, am still learning how to use it. I knew if I didn't, I'd be avoiding difficult people forever, and possibly missing out on God-ordained opportunities, and personal and working relationships.
That flight spirit is real. It's too easy to say, "I'm out", but sometimes ease seems like the best choice. You adopt that Jonah spirit, and conclude that everything will be alright if you just get off the ship. God, however, has such a marvelous sense of humor. He'll find you a nice big fish that will ferry you right back to where he wants you to be--where he wants you to represent him in ways you never did before, and speak in ways you were too afraid to because it didn't seem ladylike, respectful, or nice. He'll redirect you to the places where you can heal, mature and prosper. You'll find yourself in an unending cycle of the same test, but with different players and scenarios, until you surrender your anxiety and fear to him, and let him help you navigate the difficult spots.
I like the Message Bible translation of Philippians 4:13---
"I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am."
We are in a marvelous state of grace! We have access to God's forgiveness, mercy and charity. In spite of difficulties, we can steady ourselves and just keep going! We're like super heroes walking around with force-field capability, but we can't allow our energy to be tapped out. We can't leave ourselves vulnerable to attacks.
My faith is not based on whether or not I happily go along with everything that comes my way. It's not based on me being so worried about offending someone that I fail to speak the truth in love, or ignore what no reasonable person should. When the cause is righteous and just, how can you keep silent when everything in you is yelling "speak up"?
Having been hurt, even deliberately and repeatedly, doesn't mean you no longer have some fight in you. Other people's experiences, to me, are the best teachers. My parents used to say "Don't just go along just to get along". In this season of identifying everyone who disagrees with us as "haters", are we missing, rejecting, or hesitant about sharing some really good advice and direction?
As I was thinking about perseverance vs. throwing in the towel, I wondered about the conflict between other factors like humility vs. fear, and service vs. selfishness. My Christianity doesn't render me impaired or mute, or a pushover. It demands that I love my neighbor. How can I say I love God, though, but not love His people? Even the seemingly unlovable, abrasive, rude, mean-spirited ones are not exempt. The theologian, Matthew Henry wrote: "It is essential that the service of God's people be performed with a willing mind. For LOVE is the only genuine principle from whence all acceptable service of God can spring".
Love doesn't hurt. As much as we say so, neither does the truth. So what's the origin of that weird pain you feel when you're on the verge of throwing up your hands and saying, "You know what God? I don't want to do this anymore."
When you realize you don't really want to love, like, agree, respect, help, work, cooperate, with, cosign, or support a thing or person anymore, it's usually after you feel you've done your very best, and it got served back to you all mangled and misused. The good news is that there's a loving, strong, and capable God whose arms are open to embrace us when we run out of steam.
Psalm 55:22 reminds us:
"Cast your burden on the Lord, And He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved."
The song, "There Is A King In You" moved me to tears the first time I heard it. It is an arresting song. The words literally snatch your soul out of complacency, and remind your identity in Christ. It stirs something that may have been dying on the inside--some abandoned dream, forgotten idea, or lost plan. I remember a local pastor saying something about revisiting a heart's desire---going back and dusting off a want or wish that you gave up on because it seemed like, after a long period of waiting, it would never materialize.
Some situations just make you want to go somewhere and sit down for a very long time, because you gave it your best shot and missed. Some things just seem to lose their worth and importance. We tell abused people to flee and never return to the scene of the crime, but what about folk who just feel beaten up by the ordinary stuff life brings? Some things are exhausting, and freeing yourself of them seems like the best idea ever. Sitting down and shutting up and disengaging lulls you into a wonderful, perhaps false sense of ease.
Jerry Savelle said," I was a quitter going somewhere to quit". If there was pressure, his solution was to walk away. He said that his lifestyle was quitting. One day he said he got tired of being a failure. When you finally get to a place in your life when you're fed up, desperate, and done with your present situation, it's up to you to change it.
He said, "Determine that giving up is unacceptable and don’t even give it another thought."
A habit of quitting has to be broken. II Corinthians 4:16 reminds us not to lose heart. If I only excel in the things I like, and am comfortable doing, am I really a warrior? Am I a success? A champion? Am I where I belong? Is the place I go to every day the place where I am supposed to be, or is it just safe?
Is the unrest, or conflict I experience a sign, a warning, or a challenge, or just a distraction? Who is orchestrating the daily attempts to intimidate and discourage me? Does it go toward some heavenly account every time I stick and stay? What about people who are itching to push your buttons? Does that ever ease up? If I am always running from a challenge maybe my legs will be stronger, but my mind and heart won’t. I have to know the difference between God's challenges and the enemy's nonsense. I want to develop long-suffering and perseverance. I want to stand.
Make it a point to continue. Finish the work, No longer allow your tears to fuel the oppressive, mean spirit that others employ to beat you down and stop your progress. Break barriers. I recall listening to a televangelist who was talking about "developing above circumstances and situations"; breaking free of "people bondage" and trusting God to keep you from wearing out.
Psalmist, Darwin Hobbs sang the truth:
"God is able to do just what he said he would do.
He's gonna fulfill every promise to you.
Don't give up on God, 'cause He won't give up on you..."
We really are works in progress, emerging from our very comfortable comfort zones wherever they may be, with what we have--and what we have is good enough. Begin shaking off whatever veneer is there that you thought was protecting, obscuring, hiding, and covering you when it was really covering nothing and leaving you vulnerable and exposed.
Remember that your confidence is in Christ, you’re who God created you to be, and that you have been delivered from the inclination to perform. You have nothing to prove; nothing apart from God for which to take credit.
God who comforts and encourages us with these words: "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye."
The Message Bible translates Psalm 32:8 this way: “Let me give you some good advice; I’m looking you in the eye and giving it to you straight--don’t be ornery like a horse or mule that needs bit and bridle to stay on track.”
If there is a deficit in my life, God has given me power and authority to speak to every obstacle- not run or from them, or even ask Him to move them for me.
Doing nothing is so comfortable- it's also paralyzing. Watching from the sidelines is okay, but is that where you are supposed to be? Supporting from a distance keeps you out of the line of fire. Cheerleaders serve a purpose, but why not play in the game? The opposition will be there regardless.
Some things will pull and draw on our lives. The enemy has not abandoned his “steal, kill and destroy” mission. We can't be his best assistant or help him to extinguish our own lights.
God intended for us to have a particular kind of life. He wouldn't have put it in the Book if He didn't mean it, and He's never lied. He alone enables us to persevere.