I never tire of looking at my husband. I have known him for 10 years and still to this day whether I’m on the couch watching tv with him or I see him pass me by on our street I can’t help but stare at him. Yuck ! right! This is supposed to be a column about faith, hope, and God’s love! I guess I better continue to explain myself.
Let me share with you an example of despair, discouragement, and the some tiny sneaky ways the devil tries to keep you from God’s will and from God’s love even if the subject matter is on the romantic side.
On the night I was to go on the first date with my now husband – then acquaintance – I thought I was going to have to call it off. I never in my life had such enormous stomach butterflies. I had been on countless first dates, even some I was nervous for, but nothing like this one. I am not one to toss cookies. I hate throwing up. I’ll pass out first, stick my head in a bucket of water, chew gum, anything except throw up and yet that night as time drew near for him to arrive, I felt my stomach doing the broad long jump. My insides were attempting to break some indoor track record by leaping out and becoming my new outsides. I thought to myself, “I don’t think I can do this! Why am I so nervous? I’m just going to have to call this off. This is a bad idea! We aren’t going to have anything to talk about. There is a good chance that I’m going scream at the toilet bowl any minute and dry heave my way into a tremendously embarrassing first impression.” I was experiencing the “fight or flight” phenomenon.
I asked God to calm me down. I felt silly to ask him for help on first date jitters. Somehow I managed to compose myself and walk out to the parking lot to meet him when he arrived. I decided to stay and fight instead of running away. And from there on even though I still had some sort of trampoline performance occurring in my stomach, I managed to have the best first date of my life as well as my last first date.
Within only months of being married my husband dealt with life threatening illnesses, deaths in the family, career changes, along with other trials. He didn’t even make it look it look hard when it came to being supportive, loving, sympathetic, gentle, and kind. Looking back now, I see all the times my husband has been there for me. Even today as I struggle with publishing setbacks, contract changes, and personal goal confusion, he still picks me up with tough and tender love. He does what God knows I need him to do. And if I had not gone out on that first date. If I had let the devil talk me out of it, let fear control my way, I wouldn’t have a beautiful family, a couple of Christian books published, and would be lacking in more ways than I can imagine I am sure.
Of course if I had thrown up our first date might not have happened either. I’m grateful for spearmint gum and the power it has to settle my nervous stomach. I am most grateful to God, God’s will for me, and God’s purpose for me.
I wish I could say this is the only example of discouragement. It is not. Over the years as Christians we will all face times of discouragement, torment, and even some burn out. God’s love encourages you no matter how much you may get discouraged. Stay in. Fight your obstacles. Don’t choose flight. Fight for what you know God wants you to do even if you think you can’t do it. If you can’t, God can. The devil wins by discouraging you, upsetting you, and trying your patience. Focus on victory no matter how small of an accomplishment and how inglorious your task at hand may be.
You may feel like you aren’t getting anywhere with your writing, or maybe you don’t feel like you are helping your youth group attendees, or maybe you feel like your job doesn’t allow you to use your talents to their best ability, remain in God’s will, don’t be discouraged. As you pray feel God spiritually picking you up by your bootstraps even after you kicked you boots off in disgust. I have found when you are facing the hardest obstacles, right then and there you are on the very edge of a rewarding event. God honors you and your faithfulness. God invented faithfulness, remember?!