The Long Journey Back

Have you ever been on a road and you have no idea where it is leading you?  You know that you are going through something, but you have no idea what the lesson being taught is or when it will end.  You are not alone.  God is indeed with you and He is moving in your life whether you can recognize it or not.  Sometimes I see His hand moving by the way things are shaping up or falling into place so fast.  Sometimes I look back at the storm long after it has passed and see that He was moving all through it, but I could not see it at the time it was happening. 

Today I want you the reader, to concentrate on the hope and promise of His word.  This will be the blessed manna you will feed off and it will carry you during the struggle.  I want to center this blog today around one bible verse and it is found in Jeremiah 29:11. It is my favorite verse and I have clung to it so much throughout my Christian life.

            “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

So much is packed into that verse!  It is chock full of hope, but before I go any further, we need to keep in mind that this verse does not mean that storms will never arise.  Jesus himself admitted that there will be trials in this life and that in terms of eternity they will be short, but on this side of heaven, and in our definition of time, they may last a long time.  However, each storm brings a lesson and serves a purpose.  Sometimes it is the storm itself that will carry you into the next phase of God’s plan for you.  Right now, you are at point A (in the midst of the storm), but in order to get to the next phase or point C, you have to get through the storm first and find whatever nugget of wisdom God is revealing to you.  Maybe you need to be refined before you can go any further.  In my case (which I will go into later) I needed to learn endurance, self-control and refine my whole trust system.  If I skipped from point A to point C, I may miss a vital skill that God needs me to learn in order to be equipped to do whatever His will is for me.  We all run the race and want to avoid the potholes or obstacles that arise, but we may need to stumble or fall for a reason, so please do not overlook this.  The race is best run by those who learn to pace themselves, are prepared for whatever comes along, and adapts.  We want to finish the race, not quit or walk away.

We also must shift our focus as well.  Instead of wanting the struggle to end or for us to be released from the struggle, we need to focus on how to get through the struggle despite the challenges that come along with it.  We have a powerful almighty Lord who can do anything.  He is the hope to cling to, not the false promises of instant solutions.

Let us look at Jeremiah for a moment because he is a great example of someone who experienced trials, but he was encouraged and strengthened through them.  Jeremiah knew that God was there throughout it all and he relied on God’s strength to carry him.  He was despised.  He spoke the prophecy God gave him, but the people refused to acknowledge him or listen to what the message was.  They were stubborn and refused to follow another’s plan.  It was their way or no way.  He was abused.  He was beaten by Pashur, the priest, for prophesying and put in the stocks.  He was sentenced to death by the officials.  He was told by God to write down His words on a scroll and King Jehoiakim burned pieces of the scroll until the whole scroll was burned.  He was left to die in a cistern that was filled with mud in the court of the guardhouse.   He was called a liar by Azariah when he prophesied that the Israelites should not go to Egypt to live there. 

This is important for us to observe and learn from.  By his enduring his suffering and continuing his ministry this became a foreshadow of what Jesus would go through.  Jesus went through many trials and he never sinned, so why would we expect not to suffer? 

Hope and obedience to God is what got Jeremiah through all of this and Jesus relied on the hope and promises of the Father to endure all that he went through.  The lesson we need to learn here is that when we exhibit the hope that was given to us by knowing Jesus, we shed any fear regarding the struggle, but rather we learn to embrace the struggle instead.  A good reality check is this:  Jesus went through many trials and he never sinned, so why would we, who sin daily, expect not to suffer? 

I found all of this out firsthand.  For the past thirty years I have struggled from one health issue to the other and I was getting worn out.  My problem was not the struggle, but rather it was how I responded to the struggle.  I was opinionated, stubborn, blind, foolish, and determined to do this on my terms.  I sought advice, but if it wasn’t what I wanted to hear then I moved on to someone else.  I had received much wise advice over the years that I now know God was sending to me through others, but I refused to follow it.  I still thought I knew better.  I lost the last few years of my 20’s, all of my 30’s, 40’s and most of my 50’s before wisdom finally sunk in.  I knew I was experiencing a heaping amount of God’s patience throughout all of this.  He graciously gave me more time to finally learn this lesson.  Time I was not owed, nor had I earned, nor was it given to me to appease me, but He with His perfect timing knew how I was going to eventually respond.

I am writing this today because I want others to stop or break this pattern if it applies to you.  We need to humble ourselves and admit we do not have the strength, the wisdom of our own accord to handle this.  His yoke is light, and He has offered to carry the burden for us.  Please accept that offer.

I look back now at all the times I ate what I wanted despite the medical conditions that required me to follow the right guidelines.  I was foolish by taking matters into my own hands.  I cried out for help and when He sent it, I rejected it and went my own way.  I was conditioned to fight.  To be honest, I was fighting doing this rehabilitation even though I knew deep down inside that it was the only answer for me.  I toyed with the idea of leaving the facility within the first few days because I stubbornly felt I either did not need the help or that I could do it on my own.  But that was a lie!  The devil wants to get us away from God.  He wants us to rebel and fail to listen to wisdom.  He could care less whether you might lose your legs or possibly lose your life.  He is only concerned that you stray from God.  He wants to defeat you any way he can, and he will play dirty to achieve just that.  Do not listen to him.

Today take a long hard look at yourself, what your situation is and what the obstacles are.  Stare them in the face and then ask for help.  Cry out to God and pray for His assistance and accept what He sends you.  Drop your pride and leave it at the door and then follow the plan He sends to or gives you.  These are opportunities to build yourself up and to strengthen your relationship with Him.  Opportunities are open doors to walk through; thus, they serve as a great conduit to accomplish His will. Take each day as it comes and remember that in order to learn the lesson properly it may take a few times to grasp it or it may come sooner, but regardless of that, stick with it no matter how long it takes.  I am just beginning, and I know that this road will still get bumpy.  I need to focus on the here and now, continue despite the obstacles and rejoice in all the achievements, milestones or blessings that come out of it.  I began with a small step and now a few days in I have already lost weight and improved my mobility.  I cannot wait to see how this all plays out and where I am going next.  I no longer doubt or fear it, but instead I want to see what is around the corner.  So, hold on to the hope and run with it.  As I have been encouraged, I want to encourage others.  I will be on the sidelines rooting for you during your struggle and I will pray for you throughout the struggle.  It is in His hands – trust that and just walk in the faith.  His promises are true, and He is faithful. God is indeed good all the time! Best wishes and God bless.

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