The past 3 1/2 months have been an interesting time for Peter and me. Once again the road of life has taken an unexpected bend. We have been jostled and jumbled, shifted and shoved. Our faith has been stretched, our assumptions changed and rearranged. It’s been a process of sanding and sifting. We’ve been tested, bested and arrested as God has worked in our individual lives and in our life together as a couple. I’d like to believe that this season is almost over because truthfully I am feeling a bit battle-weary. The picture I have in my mind is of God fencing with us: He gives ground, then takes ground, and ever so slowly yet surely He advances, getting us right in the place He wants us to be. Just yesterday I said to Peter that it seems God has now manoeuvered us into a corner with our backs against the wall.
Now don’t get me wrong. This situation is no surprise to me. I’ve come to expect these times in my life. And I’ve learned over the years that it’s how I respond in such circumstances that determines the ultimate value of the experience. In life we all have certain lessons to learn, and with God we never fail the test, we just get to try it again (and again, and again if necessary) until we pass. When He decides to teach us something He is relentless. That’s because He loves us too much to leave us as we are.
Having my back against a wall is not necessarily a bad thing. Being at the end of my own resources can be quite refreshing actually, when all is said and done. Even in the midst of the self-doubts, restless wrangling, and eventual surrender, I have some awesome “aha!” moments. Someone once said that we don’t know what we’re full of until we get bumped. As Peter and I have been bumped around these last few months let me share some of what I’ve discovered.
1. Many times what spills out when I get bumped is not always very nice. I’ll spare you the details. Suffice it to say that God reminds me often that I am still “under construction”. There is always more refining to do in my life. Often that involves being plunged into the fire. The heat brings the impurities to the surface so they can be skimmed away. The heat makes me malleable so that the Lord can reshape me into a more beautiful and useable vessel.
2. In tough times I need to consciously position myself to hear from the Lord. I need to quiet my raging thoughts, immerse myself in His Word, pray, wait and listen for his voice. I am learning that when He speaks I need to be ready to trust and obey.
3. One of the monsters in my life that I often do battle against is fear. It takes many guises: fear of being abandoned, fear of failure, fear of being rejected, fear of not being provided for, fear of getting sick, are just some of the ones that attack me. I know that to have victory I need to name the fear, look it in the eye, and not give in to it. Running from fear is never a good idea – it will chase me down and eventually devour me unless I stand and face it.
4. My hope is in the Lord. He is my delight in good times and my certain help in times of trouble. Just this morning I was reminded of a verse from Psalm 23: “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life…” Surely — not hopefully, or maybe, or perhaps. Goodness and mercy — His desire is to bless and to love me. All the days of my life — every day, consistently. He is trustworthy and faithful!
So for now, with our backs against the wall, Peter and I continue to stand and wait. My eyes are on the Lord. I know He is at work and I know His plans are always good, even when things feel uncomfortable. And I believe there is a light at the end of the tunnel even though I don’t quite see it yet. As the Good Book says, “He is my light and my salvation — whom shall I fear?”