Thursday, October 11, 2007

Onward and Upward

Me again.

Last night's post was the 500th post on Whatever He Says. That's a LOT of writing! Congratulations, Belinda, I would have quit long before you. 500 posts. That's quite an accomplishment.

Today I was working away at something - a commitment I had made - and I was absolutely fed up with it. The going had become tough, really, really tough. I felt like I just couldn't do it anymore. I KNEW I couldn't. And I was angry that I had to keep doing it anyway.

"I quit", I said to myself. "I really don't want to do this any more. I quit." And I meant it.

Late morning the phone rang. It was a co-worker, Lesley-Ann. "Wanna meet us for lunch?" she said.

"Yeah, I need to take a break," I replied, thinking I really should stay back and keep working, but knowing what an encouragement it always is to spend time with Lesley-Ann and Martha. I packed up and headed toward Swiss Chalet.

How does God do it, I want to know? How does he arrange things to speak so loudly and plainly to us, even when we're not listening? I was in an impossible state - the sense of impending doom and failure had been descending on me for weeks and this morning it had landed full force.

Going for lunch, I found myself driving to Newmarket at a time of day when I'm not usually in the car. Instead of pushing in a C.D. for some reason, I turned on the Christian radio station, Life 100. 3. Almost immediately I heard the voice of Charles Stanley saying something very close to this:

"When the going gets really tough - so tough that you know doing this is impossible - are you the kind of person that gets going? Or are you a person that just quits?"

My ears perked up. He'd obviously been reading my mail.

"When you are at the end of your rope - when you feel like you are failing -- when you feel like you can't do it anymore -- you're up against the wall -- when you feel like you want to quit, do you give in to it? Or do you step up to the plate and dig in your heels and expect God to show you something and teach you something through it?"

I'm afraid I can't capture his words very well, but what I understood him to be saying was all about character building. "Are you going to wuss out or will you take the chance to do some growing up? That's your choice."

After hearing that clear message, you can bet my resolve was renewed. I don't expect God to change my situation, or to take it away from me (though that's what feels right now would be really nice!) What I do expect now is for him to teach me something through it, perhaps painfuluy. Something that will help me to grow up a little more in Him. And based on past experience, I expect Him to act in direct proportion to the depth and sincerity of my dependance on Him and my willingness to follow his lead.

Isaiah 40: 27 (NIV) says:

Why do you say, O Jacob, and complain, O Israel,
"My way is hidden from the LORD;
my cause is disregarded by my God"?

That's how I felt. I didn't realize it until I listened to that radio program today, but essentially I had given up that God was interested at all in what I have been going through. The going got tough and I was about to lie down and die at the bottom of the mountain that is facing me. God didn't really see what I was going through. My way was hidden from him. That's what it felt like. But was it? Is it ever?

Verse 28 goes on:

28 Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
29 He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary

and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,

and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the LORD

will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

That's the word God knew I needed to hear today. That's the word he made sure got through to my stubborn, unbelieving heart. Is it any wonder that I love Him? I still may not succeed at what I've been trying to do, but neither will I be running away. I'll be standing and going forward and learning all that God has to teach me in this situation. I'm ready to take the hard steps up and then over this mountain instead of just going around it and around it one more time.

And lunch with Lesley-Ann and Martha, two master encouragers, served to solidify all that. They're not quitters either. Boy, I'm glad I gave my day to God this morning!

4 comments:

Brenda said...

Wow! Did I ever need to hear that. Thanks,Susan. I may be the big sister but I surely am looking up to you right now. You are becoming like Mom to me in your spiritual example.
Love you a bunch and miss you! Wish I could be more a part of your life by living closer to you. :(

Brenda said...

p.s. It's so good that I'm going to use it as a devotional for my Coffee Break group...with your permission, of course.

Susan said...

Dear sister,

YOU always have my permission. What's mine is yours... ever and always.

Thank you for the awesome encouragement. I needed that today. And hey, it goes both ways, so I guess ours is a mutual admiration society. :o)

And remember - I was ready to quit. It was God who put me back on his track - so none of the credit goes to me. I'm just trying to follow, and sometimes I'm not even trying to do that. He comes out to find me and gives me whatever nudge I need anyway. And Charles Stanley (or was it Chuck Swindoll? Now, I'm not sure!) - I'm just regurgitating what I got from him on the radio. I'm glad it made sense to someone else, too... Like ripples on the pond.

Tons of love! Susan.

Belinda said...

And from "over the pond" it's your other sister--the sister in the Lord, Belinda! I'm so glad God gave you the strength to keep going. I have more news on the maple tree ceremony but still don't think I can get into the blog to post it! I will email it. Thanks for all of the wonderful writing and all of the help with posting.