Fridays with Susan...
I have a very challenging job. At least for me it's challenging. It stretches me to the outer limits of my endurance at times - mentally, physically and spiritually. When the rewards come, they come in spades, but the valleys in between can get quite dark and the pathway from mountaintop to mountaintop seem long and difficult to climb. I love my job, and a good part of that is because it is so challenging. But sometimes I allow myself to get discouraged and to feel like there has to an easier way.
Of late the pressures have increased, at least it felt like it, whether in actual fact it would have panned out that way. But I started to cast my eyes about, looking for greener pastures or at least for quieter waters. Getting there didn't appear to me to be too high on God's priority list for me, though, so I began to take matters into my own hands. I saw a little crack in Door # 1, so to speak, and I ran over there to see if I could push it open. The grass sure looked green on the other side as I peeked through that wee small opening. And the sun shone brightly. But...
I have learned that what appears to be the best way to me isn't always God's best for me. And so I discussed it with the appropriate people, and I committed the matter to prayer. Even so I was expecting him to open the door wide for me, but what I was hearing instead, was that the choice was mine. Choice? Why would I need to make a choice. The best way had seemed so very clear. I found myself wondering if his purposes for me were really finished where I was at. Didn't He put me here? And couldn't he move me if I needed to be moved?
As I prayed and sought a perspective that was much higher than my own, I began to hear "if you'll just wait on me you will SEE what I absolutely WILL DO through your weakness". My Father was telling me there was a high road. The way would be more diffiuclt to be sure, but "just trust me," he seemed to be saying, "and see what I will do." It was still my choice, but I started to see that the grass was actually quite green on my own side of the fence - just in a different kind of a way - in a way that's difficult to discern sometimes through the challenges. It would much more of an upward climb to just stay put, but it could be worth it.
Just in case there was any doubt, Belinda's Paul was preaching that Sunday while our pastor was away on vacation. His sermon was rich in God's word, and affirmed many of my own thoughts. He reminded us that there is much value in suffering and that walking through the valley - with the right attitude - can be incredibly valuable and strengthening, preparing us to get through even tougher times ahead, but also drawing us closer to Jesus Himself. If there had been any doubt, Paul's words confirmed for me. God was speaking to me directly through him and the message couldn't be any clearer. I could take what was appearing to be the easy way out, but I would miss so much. He put me "here" for a reason - even though that reason wasn't very clear to me at the time. I was sticking with the walk in the valley, even though the next few steps would be taking me into some very scary territory. (Scary for me, anyway!) It felt like a grim decision. And it felt like a lonely one. It even felt like a sad one. But I headed back through Door # 2. Why? Because no matter what it looked like and felt like to me, I knew I could trust him. I could trust him to fulfil his purposes in me and through me where he has placed me. And I could trust him to move me when - and if - it was time for me to move.
Funny how when God gets us where he wants us, when he finally gets the attitude worked into us that he's wanted us to have, how quickly our perspective can change. I stepped firmly and decisively into the darker pathway, the one leading into the valley, but suddenly the lights were going on! Folks, I just want to tell you: there are lilies growing in the valley - exquisite blossoms which can't be found anywhere else. And that bright and morning Star (Jesus Himself) shines far brighter.
Ask me how I know.