On the days I am an elastic band.
Last night, a good friend and I sat and chatted in her new apartment until just past my bedtime.
The last week has been incredibly busy. A close friend and teammate has just had her first child and I accompanied her husband and her during the labour, birth and post birth which lasted 3 days. When I wasn’t with them at various clinics, I was trying to keep my children from writing too many letters or complaining too loudly in protest at my absence! (Yes, the first day I came home, I was faced with a paper stuck to the door reading ‘why do you love them more than us?’!) Sleep was not had and other responsibilities remained, even if homeschool did go out of the window for a few days (the boys got the holidays they'd been asking for!)
Anyway, back to my friend’s new apartment. As well as also being involved in the post-birth care of our teammate, my friend had also moved house last week, so she was also pretty exhausted! (British understatement.) Yesterday their newly-installed washing machine flooded their apartment twice, and so she got to spent a large chunk of her afternoon mopping floors and drying out boxes and furniture. Both of us are at the end of our physical strength, and the enemy knows it. So little attacks like that are really rather annoying.
But, it is in those moments that verses like Philippians 4:13: I can do all things through Him who gives me strength really come into play. Having three young children, that verse is now well-embedded into my mind as an automatic pop-up when I face an overwhelming situation.
That does not mean, however, that I willingly embrace it!
Elastic bands can be turned into an elastic piece of string. We all know that the more we stretch an elastic band out, the greater the tension and opposition in our hands, but that it will break if we keep going.
However, how often do we wonder why we face so much opposition in our own lives when we try to replace old habits and stinky character with Jesus’ holiness? And how often do we have the absolute assurance that those habits will break if we just keep on going and resisting?!
In my life, the greatest opposition to the changes in my life come just before breaking point.
Knowing that I am going to experience resistance when I try to change something in my life fills me with hope on good days, but on those tired, already exhausted days, it can fill me with despair! Knowing that greatest resistance happens just before breakthrough is incredibly helpful in giving me perspective into a difficult situation, but there are days when I just don’t feel like I can handle the tension!
Today we have a planned power cut all day. (Amazingly, they actually informed us ahead of time.) I personally put my phone into charge last night and positioned it so it would charge properly. 6.25am this morning: Mark: ‘Oh no, your phone hasn’t charged, baby.’ That automatic Phillippians 4:13 pop-up was not the one I leaned into this morning. Feelings of anger, blame and being overwhelmed engulfed me and spewed out of my mouth, as well as feeling completely stupid that something so small was suddenly such a big deal. As the French say, it was the drop that overflowed the glass…
Thankfully there has also been another theme that has been playing through my mind in the last week - the story of Peter walking out on the waves. For some reason, Peter is remembered mainly for his lack of faith in that story, but we have to note, unlike the other disciples, he actually got out of the boat and walked on the water for a while! We know that his mind then became overwhelmed by the storm and he began to lose focus and forget that it was Jesus who had told him to ‘come!’ and he had began to sink, but he also walked on water for a while!
What I love about Jesus is that he didn’t let Peter tread-water for a few minutes in his lack of faith and focus, but instead, Matthew 15:31 tells us, Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him. Presumably, although the text doesn’t specify, they then walked back to the boat together.
I want to be like Peter. I want to step out in faith and try to remain focused on the words Jesus has given me. I want to unwavingly trust that He will come through, that I will manage, that I will not be allowed to be overwhelmed if I just focus on Him. I want to walk on the water in my day.
However, I am also so thankful, that when I start to waver and doubt, when I am exhausted and overwhelmed, Jesus doesn’t make me suffer unnecessarily to teach me a lesson for my lack of faith, but rather lifts me back up, encouraging me to trust him again. And then he walks me back to the boat encouraging me to trust him more next time.
Besides, I don’t read Jesus’ words in Matthew 15:31 anymore as ‘You, (silly Peter) of little (insignificant) faith, why did you doubt?’ but rather as ‘You, (Peter, my co-heir!) who had some faith there, why did you hesitate and not let that faith grow?!’*
Although I know I am going to face resistance, and there are days like today when I feel like I have let the elastic band spring back, I do want to grow and change, and I so thankful that Jesus is at my side encouraging me to have another go.
*The idea that Jesus actually challenged Peter’s hesitating faith rather than his mental doubt is discussed here: http://skipmoen.com/2012/10/29/what-does-not-exist-1/
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