I had an epiphany today…a moment when truth hit me upside the head and left me breathless.
Some of the women at my church are doing a Bible study using the book Gideon by Priscilla Shirer. (AWESOME – I highly recommend it!) I have been struck all along at how neatly this story fits into a particular situation in my life, but a comment she made at the end of the video tonight struck me to the core.
She was sitting by a campfire and wondering out loud about what the 300 may have been thinking that night – the night God delivered them with only 300 soldiers although they were outnumbered 450 to every 1 of their ranks. She wondered if they had any idea what awesome works of God were imminent.
Folks, I was wondering the same thing about a situation of my own. I have been frustrated. I have been threshing in a wine press (so to speak) and doing difficult tasks in less-than-ideal conditions that only add to the difficulty. I have struggled with frustration, anger, and even hopelessness about my situation. I have tried to remain faithful to my many tasks, but I have worried that all my efforts were pointless. Tonight God answered me loud and clear. In a study that is focused on your weakness vs. God’s strength, I have truly been empowered.
We had just spoken about how our difficulties shape us and put us in the right place for God to work through us. Through Priscilla’s closing statement today, my purpose in this study and in this particular situation was made abundantly clear to me. I was being positioned and prepared to serve and minister to those in this difficult situation with me
After 12 years of marriage and many, many prayers, my brother finally gets to be a daddy! He asked me if I had been feeling like digging any holes – because in March I ought to be growing some extra legs and feeling the urge to tunnel around underground. (In other words, I’m going to be an ant aunt!)
Thank you, Lord, for bringing a revival about in me. I had no idea I was so sorely in need of one. I have felt your hand in my life so strongly for the last few months, and for what may well be the first time ever I have followed where you led without question. Looking back, I am amazed at the change you have made in me. I have always believed, and I have always had faith, but I realize now that I have never completely trusted.
The old me would never have come forward to request membership in a church on the first day I attended it (my first real “yes”). The old me had spent the last 7 years “church shopping” to find a church I felt comfortable in (i.e. a church that was a clone of the beloved church I had left behind when we moved halfway across the country). That me was too focused on her preferences and not even aware of her needs. The old me would not be gearing up to lead a 5th-6th grade class in the children’s ministry (an age group I’ve never been completely comfortable with) after a mere 2-3 months of attendance at a new church. That me would have preferred to stay in the background. The old me preferred to worship quietly and mostly alone for fear of actually having to interact.
I am amazed at this new me you have created…a new me who is taking an active and visible part in ministry as a teacher and prayer team member, a new me who is reaching out instead of avoiding contact, a new me who can’t get enough of your word and your teachings, who has read an astounding number of bible reading plans, devotions, books, and blogs about faith in just the last few months and STILL can’t get enough. Where in the world did this new me come from? She sure hasn’t been around before – I’d have noticed.
But then, she didn’t come from the world – did she? She was brought about by your hands and through your grace. When I was unspeakably discouraged and disheartened by life, you changed my life. All I had to do all this time was wait and trust – the two things I have the hardest time doing. Maybe I needed to fail miserably and repeatedly to “fix things” on my own to really understand what it meant to trust in you. Your wisdom and timing are perfect, Lord, and I thank you for all the years of frustration, because in the end they were what opened my eyes to your truth. Now I can truly say yes without worrying about my next steps. Now I can sit back and really see the wonders that have unfolded in my life because of one unforgettable “yes” that has blown the doors off of my heart.
My prayer is that my “yes” will become but one of many, and that they will lead others to say yes as well. My “yes” that day led straight to my son’s salvation. Thank you for breaking me just enough to make me let go of myself and reach for you.
It’s easy to forget (during rush hour traffic, after waiting in line for what feels like hours, when you’re sick, when you’re tired, when you’re just sick and tired…you get the idea) how good we really have it. No one wants to admit it, but we’re really pretty spoiled. We are often like a child who is given a cookie and then asks for two instead. When we don’t get that extra cookie (or, God forbid, don’t get a cookie at all), we tend to throw the adult version of a temper tantrum. We pout. We complain. We make excuses. We have forgotten how to be thankful for what we have.
Even when we are facing true difficulty, chances are there are others who face worse. Consider Lila, who is 3 and has already been through 30 surgeries for an irreversible condition, or Diego, a 12-year-old who was struck by a stray bullet and has defied all odds of recovery. We should be thanking our lucky stars that we (most likely) don’t have to face those extremes of difficulty. I would be willing to bet, though, that both families have found hidden blessings in their difficulty – strengthening of family ties, the unexpected support of community, or a new-found appreciation for the things that are truly important in life.
Besides, that old saying about lemons and lemonade is true – most of life’s challenges can make you miserable or make you better. The choice is really up to you. When you fall, what do you do? Our first instinct is often to complain. I would like to challenge you (and myself – I’m not off the hook either) to find some good in your bad situations. Often there are some sneaky silver linings you don’t see at first. Give it a try. Once you do, things seldom seem as bleak as they did at first. What seems to be a dreary fog of bad luck may simply be the wrappings of a “gift”.
The next time you fall, consider the words of Thomas Wayne to young Bruce Wayne…
“Why do we fall? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.”
My daughter came home from school today and began explaining what she had discovered while researching the history of Halloween online. It sounded something like this…
“Mom, I know how Halloween got started.”
“Oh, yeah? How?”
“Well, see, the Irish believed – a long time ago – that on October 31st the pothole between worlds got really thin and that spirits could get through. They left milk and treats out to try to make the spirits happy, and if the spirits didn’t think it was good enough they would play tricks on them.”
“Oh, really?” (Totally serious face…totally thinking about the pothole between worlds…trying to decide if I should ask her if she meant portal.)
“Yeah, and they wore costumes to confuse the spirits so they would leave them alone.” (I decided not to say anything. I rather like the idea of a pothole between worlds.)
I have been thinking of this all night, and I think she may be on to something. We often talk about road blocks and potholes in our lives. What if one of those potholes really WAS a pothole between worlds? It kinda makes you wonder what’s on the other side. It’s an interesting idea. You’re just cruising through life, minding your own business, and BOOM!
Maybe someone left out some milk and treats…I’d better go check…
This was a fun (and tasty) dinner I made this week. The best part was that my parents were visiting and had to eat it! My dad is a farmer, and he thinks I’m crazy for intentionally growing “weeds” that he sprays to keep out of his fields. Well, my dad the farmer ate burdock and LIKED it. HA! (Weeds =1, Dad = 0)
This is a burdock root. It is really long – this is actually one root cut into four pieces for easier handling. You can either gather your burdock wild or purchase it at an Asian market. It has many uses as a medicinal herb, from supporting the kidneys and liver to aiding digestion. It is full of antioxidants and minerals.