Hebrews 12:1-2 (New International Version)
...let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith...
It was one of those conversations that God was all over, a conversation that plumbed some deep places as she worked on my hair.
As I went from chair to hairdryer, to sink, to chair again; in between consulting on colour or hi lights (just colour this time) , conditioning treatment (please), trim (yes, the ends need it), we went deeper, from light hearted banter to "God talking." I saw it in her eyes, her spirit responding; not to me but to him, and I felt it in my own heart as she shared a story prompted by our conversation.
She told me about two elderly customers, a mother and daughter; the mother in her nineties, both of them now living together; how they were both crusty characters but the mother was so bright, intelligent and feisty that she had asked her, "You've lived such a long life; do you have some wisdom to share with me?"
And the woman told her how in her 20's she had taken up fencing as a hobby. She had a natural gift for it and easily beat every one her instuctor arranged for her to fence against. Eventually he said, "I can't find anyone for you to fence against that will challenge you. I suggest you start fencing at the university level and seriously consider preparing for the Olympics."
My hairdresser's attention was rapt as the old woman told her story. "What happened?" she wanted to know.
"I didn't do it," said the woman, " and I've spent my life wondering what would have happened if I had."
And she went on, "The wisdom I pass on to you is this; if you don't do something, ask yourself, what is it that is holding you back?"
I remembered the challenge I had heard at a retreat just two days earlier: "God can do anything. Are you willing to let him do "anything" through you?"
In the fall, I had been offered an exciting opportunity in my "outside of work" life, and after praying, I had said yes to it, safe in the knowledge that it was going to take some time to unfold.
My already busy life though, was busier than ever in the early winter, with a trip to England and then Christmas and many work deadlines. The opportunity waited, lying ahead, but panic began to tighten around my heart when I thought of actually fitting it into my life. When a phone call came to plan the next step, I pulled back.
"I've been thinking about it," I said, before my friend could go further, "How would I fit it in? I would love to do it, but I just don't think I can."
My friend said she'd pray that God would clear something from my schedule.
"Please do," I said, "I'm always praying for God's agenda for my life."
Over Christmas I received a disappointing letter, but it was deserved and shouldn't have been a surprise. In a writing course I'd been taking extremely slowly I had missed one too many deadlines. "Call us when you're ready to reconnect with us," the letter said in essence. But strangely, although one part of me was disappointed in myself and wanted to call right away and jump back in, something kept me from doing so and I felt a peace at letting that one pressure go; for now--and only now; I do want to finish it.
God had taken something off my plate, and as the saner pace of January settled over me, I wondered; had I thrown away an opportunity when I had told my friend I couldn't do it? Now I thought that maybe I could do it. Some other circumstances in my life were building confidence and I was beginning to realize that maybe the reason I had backed away had more to do with fear of "stepping out of the boat," than busyness.
I was driving to the hairdresser when the friend called me. "Have you thought any more about that idea?" she asked.
"As a matter of fact I have," I said. And God had a hairdresser waiting to confirm all of this with such a story.
Philippians 3:13-14 (New International Version)
13Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.