I’ve heard this passage many times, read it many times—but in my desperation to leave 2020 and enter 2021, I felt the necessity of this verse in order to experience what God has “next” for me.
And here we are now saddled up on February. We have no clue yet the ride in store. We never dreamed the last 14 months or so would have been what they were; yet we held on. The ride rough, the waves high, the race uphill, but here we are.
I’m not ignoring the present or the past to leap to the future…they each have a purpose which shapes and molds us—but we need to guard how that shaping takes place.
- Have you ever experienced something so heart rending that unintentionally you held on to parts of it—sort of as a reminder? That maybe if you weren’t careful, it would happen again? Or suffered such a loss that you clung to everything that it represented in your life—the good and the bad?
The Holy Spirit reminded me that while hardships are bound to happen to us as we continue in this life—because it is a fallen world, we have a hope in Christ. However, what we do with those hardships is key to our growth, or the stunting of our growth.
- Have you ever seen a tree that was crooked or bent in such a way that it just doesn’t stand as tall as those around it? Something happened to that tree in the growing cycle. Just as hurricanes and tornadoes come through and twist, rip, snap and uproot trees, it can absolutely stunt the growth of the baby trees.
That happens to people too. A life storm shakes us at the roots and we become stunted in growth—spiritually, and sometimes even physically. Sometimes we “feed” our pain by focusing on that and nothing else and everything else around us seems to fade from our vision. We cannot see beyond the current pain or grief.
I’ve observed a line of trees recently that look healthy as far as the new leaves coming on, with one exception: they all lean hard to one side. And they will grow that way unless someone comes along and pulls them back—their roots need to be adjusted. They need to be propped up. The need supporting. I’ve seen this on roadsides, as new, developed trees have been planted. They tie a padded rope around heavier, lower limbs and drive stakes into the ground to give them added stability on all sides until the roots begin to sink down into the ground where they are planted.
Just as the trees need help to grow upright again, so do the hearts and lives of those around us; those whose lives seem shipwrecked by their circumstances. No matter what type of loss it is—loss of any type can cripple a heart and life—or stunt the growth of the individual. Especially if all we can see is the loss. That’s not healthy. Closing our lives off to living, not just existing, is like the wind that twists the trees.
Everyone handles hardship and grief differently. Sometimes we just want to escape—run away—or hibernate. (See my hand up? I’ve felt that way myself.)
Like so many others, I draw my strength from the Word of God, through prayer and time with the LORD, and from the prayers and encouragement of others. We all can be “encouragers”. One who helps stabilize the root system of our windswept sisters and brothers.
“…strengthen those who have tired hands, and encourage those who have weak knees. Say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, and do not fear, for your God is coming to destroy your enemies. He is coming to save you.” Isaiah 35:3-4Holy Bible, New Living Translation
There are countless people in this world who have no clue of the Resource of strength that we have. The nearest need may even be your neighbor. They go through life and the hardships hit, or the life altering circumstances yank them up by the roots and they often wither and die—right in our midst. They ache to know the One who can help—maybe they don’t realize the emptiness in their lives well enough to put a name on it—but friend, there’s a mission field of hurting people in our midst if we would take the time to look around.
As I’ve wrestled with the thought that I might not get to return to Bolivia due to unrest, covid-19 and political changes, my heart has been grieved. I see pictures in my phone or on blogs I wrote in the past years and my eyes fill with tears and my chest tightens up with grief. I could allow that emotion-or feeling to stay; to take root and even stunt my growth or blind my eyes to what God has AHEAD and totally miss my next assignment…or, I can release it and let God direct me forward.
However, today as I encourage myself, I want to do the same to you, let your eyes go back to the top and re-read this part of that verse. “…. looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.”
To look forward…we must face forward. That’s where He is calling us—from the past, to the future.
With that being said, There is something I’ve been working on a little bit…very little because of my lack of skills in this particular area–and my lack of free time. (I feel guilty to sit down and write because it takes SO much time –and there’s so much regular life stuff that also vies for my attention.)
BUT. As God leads, I’m partnering up with two amazing young mothers and I cannot wait to share what God is doing in all our lives! 🙂 More on that later –just come on back now, ya hear?
© Angie Knight 2021. All rights reserved. Used by permission. (Also shared in February 2021 StreetTalk.)