It’s confusing being bombarded by thoughts and expectations that often have little or nothing to do with what God is saying and doing. Feeling pushed by things and pulled by strings that are not the Holy Spirit. Do this. Think about that. Worry. Fear. Distraction. Striving. A place where joy is fleeting and true rest is rare. What do you do?
Go! Pack up! Move! Get away!
But it’s the enemy of our souls who entices us to flee, drop every obligation, discard our covenants, serve ourselves and take the easiest path. I am very familiar with that voice as it regularly sings its siren song in my ear. But we all know where it leads and it isn’t good.
I’ve heard that perseverance is its own reward: “Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:4 Not lacking anything? Mature? Complete? That’s what we gain when we persevere. It’s a promise of God, so it’s sure. But I’m finding perseverance is a mountain of its own.
I thought I was persevering as I worked my way through college and seminary and marriage and beautiful young children who became chaotic teenagers and then capable young adults – the huge learning curve that comes with all of the privileges and responsibilities of adulthood.
I thought I was persevering through all the stress and rewards of pastoring: teaching, preaching, counseling, closing, merging, visioning, blessing, burying, marrying, praying, failing and starting over again…. and again.
I thought I was persevering through decades of thyroid disease and overwhelming bouts of fatigue that often leave me floored. Change your diet! Change your lifestyle! Don’t stress….. exercise, stretch, relax!
I thought I was persevering after my husband’s brush with death over a decade ago: aortic aneurysm, blocked artery, valve repair, bypass, and the long slow recovery. “Thank God that’s over!” I thought.
I thought I was persevering when my father died suddenly after a particularly hard season with dementia, and my mother moved in with us for a time, and we sifted through years of their things, and we finally sold their house. I was overwhelmed, sure, but persevering: getting up, doing the next thing, putting one foot in front of the other – stumbling but living.
Then my husband became mysteriously ill: sudden acute kidney failure, multiple myeloma – cancer. Yow. Life. It can be a real kick in the head.
I understand that there is a curious trio in God’s economy that, when embraced, can carry us up over the mountain of our circumstances. They are faith, perseverance and rest.
Faith connects us irrevocably to God and His love for us through Jesus Christ. Perseverance anchors our faith on the ro
I know this. I teach this. I have tried to model this. But I’m in a free-fall.
My husband is doing much better. Responding incredibly well. Off dialysis. Looking toward the next step in his treatment. I’m so grateful… and I’m in a free-fall.
I have applied over a quarter-century of biblical and theological learning and experience to this problem and I am still falling. But maybe it’s okay. Maybe it’s okay because it’s where I am – no matter how much I fight it – and I know intimately that God is here.
I remember a dream I had years ago. I was driving down a winding mountain road when the pedals on my car became all jagged and crazy. I looked down to see what the deal was and when I looked up I missed the turn and shot off a cliff. As I was falling through the air I heard God say, “Just put your head back and relax.” I thought, “What have I got to lose?” So I put my head back and closed my eyes and let go. I kept falling and the wheels kept spinning and when the car hit the ground it took off like a shot.
So maybe it’s okay to be here in this cliff-diving free-falling moment of life with God.
And maybe, just maybe, I will finally let go.