There are days and seasons in life when things are just too overwhelming and difficult. Just too much. I seem to be slogging along through a season like that, one full of puddles and muck.
Last week, my husband’s ministry hosted an all-day event for area-wide ministry and community leaders. We brought in a fabulous facilitator from Oregon who led us in a day of seeking God’s heart and plan for our city, with unity, repentance, collaboration, and much prayer. It was such a wonderful Spirit-filled day!
Our daughter and myself comprise Anthony’s staff, so we happily pitched in and served all day. When dinnertime rolled around, we were exhausted (both being introverts, we were emotionally and physically spent) and looking forward to a post-event dinner meeting at one of my favorite restaurants.
The parking lot at the chosen venue for the day was unpaved and rough, filled with potholes-turned-puddles. I had sacrificially (ha ha) given my husband the car to drive our out-of-town guest around in, so Emily and I were driving the truck. Which is fine, except I’m not familiar with it. And I had parked next to a puddle-turned-lake, so I was reaching across said lake to try to carefully fling my possessions into the back of the truck’s cab. My tablet made it safely. My new purse– and all its contents– did not. Instead, it made a lovely splash and quickly emptied into the murky– and deep– puddle. (A helpful, and quite astute, 12 year old in my life pointed out that the purse should have been zipped…SO true!) My cry of “Dear God, NO!” startled my poor daughter, who watched as her crazed mother quickly snatched cell phone, checkbook, Bible, notebook, mints, lipstick, and other important items from the miry depths. Oh, what a soggy, nasty mess! All items were unceremoniously dumped onto the floor of the truck to drip-dry, and away we went to the restaurant. Did I mention I had to use my booted foot to dredge the puddle for the last few items? Ugh. Wet socks, wet purse, wet checkbook, wet phone…
We pulled up to the restaurant, and I stuffed necessary items into my coat pockets: checkbook, keys, phone. After placing our order, I headed over to fill our water cups at the soda dispenser. And that’s when the final straw came. My cell phone– which was still operational– slipped out of my pocket and crashed to the concrete floor and– you guessed it– the screen shattered.
Do you ever have beautiful moments in God’s presence, where you can see His Spirit moving, and then the enemy comes along and uses his battering ram against you? That is how our lives have been recently. God is doing such amazing and wonderful things through my husband and in our community! Satan hates that. And often, the family is his target. We have seen illnesses, job difficulties, financial strain, and other hardships befall us personally, but also plague our children and extended families. And we have also had Satan use family against us…
I often feel like the weight of it all: ministry, family, home, work, friends, etc. is about to crush me. Where is the balance? I have no idea!! But I know the One who holds it all in His balance (Isaiah 40:12), and He is faithful, merciful, gracious, patient, and good.
“The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in mercy…The LORD is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and great in mercy.” ~ Psalm 103:8; 145:8
“So rend your heart, and not your garments; return to the LORD your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; and He relents from doing harm.” ~ Joel 2:13a
“The LORD is slow to anger and great in power, and will not at all aquit the wicked. The LORD has His way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of His feet.” ~ Nahum 1:3
And so, I keep on keeping on. With God, Whose mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23). Whose grace is sufficient for me (2 Corinthians 12:9). Who has promised to never abandon me (Hebrews 13:5). Who loves me and gave everything for me (John 3:16).
And so, I breathe a prayer. I cling to God’s Word and promises (Psalm 119:31), and to whatever bits of calmness and rest I find, and I follow my Saviour on this path He’s leading us on (Psalm 23). One step at a time.
And so, I put on my armor, because without it, I cannot stand in this battle (Ephesians 6). And the battle is the Lord’s (1 Samuel 17:47). He will win the final showdown (Revelation). And if He is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31)
And so, I take my eyes off of my circumstances and my Self, and I put them on Jesus, the author and finisher of my faith (Hebrews 12:2). The One who calms the waves (Psalm 107:29) and takes my hand when I am sinking (Matthew 14:30). The only One who can save this broken and wicked world (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). The One who should matter to me more than anyone, or anything, else.
“…’Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?’ ” ~ Mark 8:34b-37
And so, I keep on keeping on. With blood, sweat, and tears. Just like Jesus, who I want to be like when I grow up…