With a bang the spindle in the mower deck disintegrated. There were spare parts in the garage. I removed the deck and flipped it over where the corrosion build-up on a nut instantly made me to know that this was not going to be easy. “Oh, great,” I thought, “how am I going to get that off?” As you might guess my mechanical skills are limited. I found the right wrench and pulled. Nothing! I tapped the frozen nut with a hammer to break it loose and pulled some more with no result. Moments later, sweat was dripping from my head and I was getting ready to pack it in and call the pro! But, I was not ready to concede defeat just yet. With a prayer for divine assistance (really, because doesn’t the Bible teach us to pray about everything?) and a burst of energy, I applied my strength to the handle one more time and it broke loose. When the deck was repaired and reassembled, I returned to mowing thinking about an important factor in life – persistence.
The real issues in life are a lot more difficult than a broken mower deck with a corroded nut on a bolt, aren’t they? Thousands in the Houston, TX area are waking up this morning to another day of cleaning up the worse mess they have ever seen and probably many are wondering, “can I do this another day?” A young mother is looking at another day of wiping behinds and cleaning up Cheerios™ and in spite of loving those tots is thinking, “Can I stay fulfilled doing this?” A person with cancer has a chemo appointment this morning and is thinking about just calling it off. A tragic statistic tells us that people are taking the ultimate exit, choosing suicide, at the highest rates in decades. About 50,000 Americans will take their own lives this year.
With that build-up, let me take a turn towards encouragement! You can do this today (whatever ‘this’ might be) and you can do more than survive! How?
First of all – commit yourself to the Lord.
Yes, I mean that. Tell Him the truth about your life, what you are feeling, the pressure, the problems. Friend, that is not a cliché, it is the most important choice we make. You do not need a monster faith, some vision or revelation. Jesus said even a spark of faith is sufficient. He knows where you are, what you are dealing with, and never will belittle you or turn away. He does not compare your need to those of others and ask, “Why are you bothering me?” He comes to us in the Spirit and stands with us, working for us. Right now would you ask the Lord to increase your faith and help you to move forward? This is His promise: “The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us … in accordance with God’s will. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:26-28, NIV)
Second – look up!
For a moment, take a break from the problem. As I struggled with that mower deck, at one point, I put the wrenches down, stood up, and changed my perspective, asking “Is there another way to do this?” We can become so wrapped up in a problem, that we miss the solution, fail to see the resources that could be available to us. Most importantly, for spiritual wholeness we cannot lose sight of the fact that today is the prelude to the life God has planned for us. So, we must “fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 12:2-3, NIV) Refocus with a worship song, a walk, reading a Psalm, calling a friend who will pray for you.
Third – build and keep a network of support!
Watching the reports from Texas, the one bright spot is the way that thousands of people have come together, offering themselves unselfishly to help those who are working to rebuild life. There are people who care, though you may not think so. And let me add this word – If life is flowing well right now, do not neglect your friends, your church, your family! You are going to need those people, sooner or later, and now is the time to strengthen the bonds. It is beyond my imagination to think of how I would have lived through my last 4 years of loss and grief without a rich network of people who have given love, prayer, and encouragement.
Fourth – Believe!
Feed hope and faith. We are barraged with ‘bad news’ and apocalyptic visions of the End. Some of it may have kernels of truth scattered in it, but a lot of that negativity is just hype to keep you on the hook so you will watch the station and support some cause. Wisdom is important and we cannot avoid ‘reality,’ but we can change our view of reality with all of the information which includes the fact that God is bigger than social problems, than illness, than a rough job. He is Lord of life and reminds us that those who love Him are held in the palm of His hand.
Read of the trials of Paul. His life and calling was tough including rejection, beatings, and hardships. He was misjudged, criticized, and even unjustly imprisoned. “We felt like we’d been sent to death row, that it was all over for us. As it turned out, it was the best thing that could have happened. Instead of trusting in our own strength or wits to get out of it, we were forced to trust God totally—not a bad idea since he’s the God who raises the dead! And he did it, rescued us from certain doom. And he’ll do it again, rescuing us as many times as we need rescuing.” (2 Corinthians 1:9-10, The Message)
Fifth – Live one day at a time.
Don’t laugh. We exhaust ourselves with ‘what-if’ questions. We cannot borrow from tomorrow’s sunshine. So, live today. Jesus told us that today’s problems are met with today’s solutions, and that is enough.
So, let’s not quit, not give up hope. Keeping pulling. My prayer for us is the word from the Word today.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13, NIV)
Anchor (worship as you play the song at this link)
I have this hope
As an anchor for my soul
Through ev’ry storm
I will hold to You
With endless love
All my fear is swept away
I will trust in You
There is hope in the promise of the cross
You gave ev’rything to save the world You love
And this hope is an anchor for my soul
Our God will stand unshakable
Who was and is to come
Your promise sure
You will not let go
Your Name is higher
Your Name is greater
All my hope is in You
Your word unfailing
Your promise unshaken
All my hope is in You
Ben Fielding | Dean Ussher
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