When Walking Gets Hard

Walking used to be easy. In fact, it was so easy, she pretty much bounced with each step. She loved to  listen to the birds and watch the  squirrels scurry about as she walked.

But after a long time, she noticed it was getting harder and harder to walk. She no longer had a bounce in her step. Each step took deliberate effort. It felt like she was walking into a strong wind. But there wasn’t any wind. Or like she was wading through deep water. But there was no flood.  So what was slowing her down, making her work so hard to keep her forward momentum? She had no idea. All she knew was that she had to keep moving if she wanted to make it back home.

Much more time passed, and she was still struggling. In fact, it was now so hard to move it took all her concentration. She had no interest in the birds or squirrels. Each step took every ounce of determination she had as she slowly forced it forward. She held her arms up in front of her as she bent forwards, hoping that by shifting her center of balance, she could get gravity to help move her forwards. But even her arms took effort to keep them in front of her.

Bent almost double now, sweat pouring from her body, she wondered if she should just quit. It would be so easy to stop moving. Staying in the same place wouldn’t be so bad, would it? It was nice here. She thought of her home. It was nicer than where she was, but was it really worth the effort? What if the effort cost her more than she had? What if she died trying to get home? What good would her home do her then? Maybe staying in this place was best after all.

She had just about stopped moving when she heard a whisper coming from deep within her. No, not quite a whisper. Just the hint of a voice, really. So quiet she almost missed it. “Keep going,” was all it said. But with the voice came a strong sense of longing to finish this walk and get home – a feeling that someone was watching and cheering her on. Not understanding but willing to trust it, she started moving again.

It took tremendous strength and even more willpower to take the next few steps. She was so tired, she could think of nothing except shuffling her feet forward one inch at a IMG_20181009_074336724time. But after a time, she realized she was getting stronger. She could see muscles in her arms and legs where previously there was only flab. And her feet were beginning to move a little easier. Instead of an inch, she was able to go several inches with each step. Then a whole foot at a time. It was like as she got stronger, whatever had a hold on her began to break off piece by piece. Soon she was able to straighten up and walk with her hands swinging by her sides again. Moving quickly now, she was delighted to see her home come into view.

As she turned into the driveway, she noticed she was once again bouncing with each step. Squirrels scampered around the nearby trees that lined the long driveway. And she heard a bird singing somewhere over her head.

Sighing with pleasure, she was so glad she had not given up. Yes, all that effort WAS worth it! She was home!

An Anointing Experience

“God, what does the anointing feel like?” she prayed late one night. “I hear preachers talking about it but I don’t think I’ve ever felt it. Could You give me an ‘anointing’ experience?”

She knew believers were supposed to seek God, not experiences. She knew those who did seek after experiences tended to end up in bad places, many times dragging other people with them. She didn’t want that, but she was curious about what the preachers were talking about. So she dared the prayer, then went to sleep.

The next morning she woke feeling really bad. Tired from going to bed late, she was also feeling sick. The slight cold she had had the day before had developed into a full fledged head cold. Struggling to get up, she thought about calling in sick and just staying home. But staying home was not an really an option that day. There were things she needed to do that no one else could do for her.

“God, You’re going to have to get me through this day. I can’t do it and I don’t even want to try.” she mumbled as she got dressed.

Having no appetite, she skipped breakfast, got in her car, and headed to work.

Once there, she forgot everything as she got busy with the multitude of tasks a teacher has to perform each day. The students were rowdy as usual, but she found herself enjoying their antics and laughing with them instead of scolding.

“What’s going on?” her friend asked her at lunch.

“Nothing,” she responded, confused. “Why?”

“You just seem to be in such a good mood. I’ve never seen you smile so much.”

“Yeah, I am in a good mood. That’s weird because I have a cold and I didn’t sleep much last night.”

“Well, it doesn’t look like that from my end.”

She thought about it as the afternoon progressed. Her friend was right. She was in a really good mood. She felt strong, confident and easy going – like everything was just a walk in the park. She was getting a ton of work done, and was even able to give her more difficult students the attention and time they craved. She liked the feeling.

At the end of the day, as the last student left, she felt all that strength, the good feelings, drain out of her until she was feeling exactly like she did when she woke that morning.

And she remembered her prayer just before she had fallen asleep the night before. Amazing! God had granted her request – her whole day had been an ‘anointing’ experience!

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“Thank You,” she prayed gratefully as she drove home. “Now if You could just make my cold go away…”

The Love of the Lord is My Strength

After some very rough years, she found some of her old journals and read through them. Many brought back fond memories. Others memories weren’t so pleasant. But she found it interesting to compare her earliest years as a Christian with what she knew now as a more mature Christian. Then she ran into an entry that stopped her cold.

She read:

“OK, Lord, I did my Bible study even though I’m very tired. Before I go to bed, do you have anything to say?

“I love you. I always has loved you and I always will love you. Believe Me when I say this. It will be a strength to you. You’ll need it in the future. Don’t forget.”

She thought about that. His love is her strength?

When I’m sick with the flu, how will knowing He loves me strengthen me?

When my boss is on a rampage and I get the brunt of it, how will knowing God loves me strengthen me?

If my kids are misbehaving and I’m worn out from the daily stresses of life, how will knowing God loves me strengthen me?

“Lord, I don’t know if I understand. I believe You love me and always will. And I know that I’m going to need your strength in the future. But what do You mean that knowing Your love for me will be my strength?

“You don’t need to understand right now. Trust Me and get to know your strength – My love – now before it’s too late.”

“If You say so. How do I get to know Your love?”

“Read My book. Ask Me questions and listen for the answers.. Learn. Study. Memorize verses that will help. Talk with the spiritually mature about Me. And most importantly, talk with Me as I give you opportunities to experience My love.”

She had accepted His words and agreed to study and pray. And she did for a number of years. But then things changed and life happened and seeking to know His love got pushed farther and farther into the background until she had forgotten all about it.

Wow, she thought now. I didn’t understand then, but I do now. Knowing He loves me is all that matters. It outweighs everything around me.

When I’m sick, knowing He loves me gives me the strength to walk out that path. It reassures me that I’m not alone, He’s right there with me, watching over me, doing what’s best for me whether I’m healed quickly or slowly or not at all. Besides, I may be sick physically, but I’m not sick spiritually. No illness on earth can hurt me spiritually.

When my boss mistreats me, knowing God loves me gives me the strength to keep my head up. It protects me from letting those words and actions deep inside me where it can cause damage. No matter what the boss says, God says I’m loved and valued and treasured. I can shake off the abusive words like a dog shakes off water after a bath. And I can rest assured that if action needs to be taken, God will take care of it.

When my kids are misbehaving and I’m worn out from the daily stresses of life, knowing God’s love gives me the strength to keep going.  Knowing that He understands my weariness and frustrations and loves me anyway and that I don’t have to do anything to earn that love, gives me the confidence to rest in His arms and let Him fill me. His love can energize me to handle the kids and stresses. I can be renewed and refreshed each day.

And He was right about not waiting until it was too late, she thought regretfully. If I had persevered in getting to know His love back then like I should have, my life could have been so different. Much less pain, confusion, fear, and anger. It could have been so much more amazing, effective and powerful for the Kingdom.

She felt bad. If only she had heeded His words. But there was no way to go back and change anything.

Well, she thought, if I can’t go back to change my past, maybe I can share my story with someone and change their future.

Friends, get to know God’s love for you. Not just about it in your head, but really deep down in your guts know it.  It will be a strength to you. Trust me on this.  Better yet, trust God!

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Hanging on

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She hung there, grasping the rope with one hand and wondering if she would be able to hang on this time. No matter how hard she had held on in the past, she had always ended up falling off. Her fingers just weren’t that strong.

She looked down. And wish she hadn’t. She already knew what lay below. Rocks strewn around, thorny bushes, putrid water. From experience, she knew the fall would hurt no matter where she landed.

She looked up, grateful to be hanging from the rope rather than down there. It was actually pleasant up here, she thought. Fresh air, blue sky, a sense of peaceful freedom. If only she could hang on.

Her thoughts were interrupted by some people who walked past her as she walked along the beach. She wasn’t really hanging by an rope. Actually, the whole hanging by the rope thing was a picture that had formed in her mind as she contemplated her new level of trust in God’s promises to her and in her growing grasp of her identity in Christ. She felt strong in her faith, peaceful trust that He can and will take care of everything that concerned her. It felt like she was hanging from a spiritual rope and enjoying the fresh air and blue sky. That’s fine for now, she thought. I’m not being tested. What will happen when I am? Will I fall like I’ve done every time in the past?

As you’ve practiced what I’ve told you to do, your fingers have gotten stronger. You can hang on. But if you do fall off,  you will get another chance. One of these times, you will no longer fall.

And she thought of some of the other ropes in her life, the ones she no longer had to fight to stay on: her belief in God, her salvation, and her faith that God will help her accomplish what He calls her to do. But this rope seems so much thicker than those other ropes. Her fingers could barely wrap around it. And she had fallen off this rope more than a few times already.

That’s how you felt when you first tried hanging from those other ropes. But with practice and perseverance, your fingers stretched and grew stronger. The same will happen with this rope.

So she relaxed and hung there in the air, hoping she wouldn’t fall, but confident that if she did, it wouldn’t be the end. With her amazingly patient and faithful God, there is always another chance.