We ride along on life’s road, some of which is smooth and lovely, when suddenly – wham! We hit a pothole! We’re jarred, shaken, and at times, we temporarily lose control. It happens to all of us. No, we don’t all hit the same holes, but we all encounter them. The questions, the temptations, the struggles, the hurts. They are a natural part of this imperfect life. And God doesn’t always guide us around them, although He could. He knows that we learn through the difficulties and come to trust Him more when we’re in trouble.
Well, friend, we’re on this road together. So don’t be surprised to see me struggling over one of those potholes. If you’re trapped at the same place, maybe we can help each other recover from any damage suffered, and move on down the road.
PLAYING THE GAME
It’s tough – this game of life!
Lots of hits, lots of bruises, some slipping and falling,
Some being caught off guard by the opposition,
Some costly mistakes.
But it’s worth the struggle;
Because with God on my side, I know I can win.
It takes discipline, though.
I have to keep myself in good condition
And utilize the equipment provided for my protection.
I’m part of a team.
It’s not an individual battle.
Others are depending on me to do my special job.
We depend on each other to carry out our functions
With enthusiasm, persistence, and precision.
Help me, Lord, never to give up.
When the going gets rough, may I anticipate
Your promised victory and follow Your game plan.
Help me to keep in mind that the hurting is temporary,
But the potential victory is permanent,
And worth all the effort.
Have I a reason for depression?
I most assuredly do!
I would not choose To feel the bruise
Of life’s most bitter blows.
My guard is up.
I am alert.
But life is so unfair!
And more than seems to be my share
Of hurting has become my lot.
Should I willingly settle into the corner,
Finding what protection I can In the shadows …
And In the rags of self pity,
Which I wrap tightly around me?
I also have a reason for rejoicing!
I belong to God.
My Saviour Is the King of Light.
As I Interrupt the path of the Light,
A shadow Is cast.
I can turn to face the shadow or the Light.
I will choose to face the Light.
I will bask in His glorious sunshine,
Feel Its penetrating rays,
And welcome its warmth …
Until the reasons for depression
Are diminished to a slight remembrance …
A distant memory.
God’s clock or man’s?
Who decides on its divisions?
When does night end …
Or day begin?
Can I speed it along?
Can I slow it down?
Does everything fit …
Within the schedule?
People or projects?
Numbers or needy hearts?
Does time weigh things in the balances
And find them wanting?
Or do I weigh time …
And make it balance properly?
Must it be my enemy …
A cruel tyrant to the end?
Or can I cultivate its friendship?
Teach me, Lord,
To use it as a tool …
A measuring device …
For Your purposes.
BEARING THE CROSS
“Sure, Lord,” we glibly say. “I’ll be glad to take on a little extra weight … do a little work for You .. . help You out. I’m certain, though, that You will keep in mind the culture and society in which You have placed me, and make the cross compatible with my situation. I’m sure You could arrange to put some soft padding on the underside. And if it were covered with velvet, It would make It easier to carry. It would look very nice, too. By the way, It’s not too much to ask for a little gold trim, is it? After all, money is no object to You, and only first class Is good enough for the King of Kings and His associates. I must be careful not to mar my image. I need to at least look respectable in order to attract more followers to You.
“Oh, You say the cross is not an attraction, but an offense? Oh yes, I see it now. It’s rough hewn and ugly. I’m beginning to feel Its splinters gouging my flesh. It rubs me the wrong way until I’m hurting, bleeding, ugly, and tired. The pain Is too penetrating. My eyes are covered with dirt and sweat and blood until I cannot see.
“Dear God, open my inner eyes, that I may observe the glory that awaits at the end of the journey. When I see You and what You have planned, then I can (like Christ) endure the pain and suffering of the cross for the ‘joy that is set before me.’ (Hebrews 12:2) I can say with the apostle Paul: ‘I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be In us.’ ” (Romans 8:18)
No longer will I answer the call glibly, but realistically. “I will bear the cross.”
Why is it that after every high and lofty experience there follows a low one?
Do I have to go down there again? It’s like descending into a dreadful dungeon where my soul seems trapped in despair.
I prefer to soar like an eagle above it all. When I’m up there, I forget about the dungeon, and all appears to be beautiful.
But now I feel myself losing momentum. The downward plunge brings me within sight of the dark and dreaded dungeon.
Dear Lord, if I must .go there again, please let me see that it is only for a little while. Perhaps I need this quiet time alone with You. And since You will be there (You are everywhere), may the light of Your love penetrate the darkness. May the warmth of Your love permeate the chilling cold. May being enclosed in a tight place with You merge us more closely together, so that I may gain the strength to soar once more.
But from that exhilarating vantage point, may I sometimes look down to notice a brother in the dungeon. May I not be too selfish to swoop down and touch him. May I not be too proud to let him know that I land there sometimes, too. And may the joy that I experience not be a threat, but an encouragement to him. May he realize that You can lift him back up to the heights of glory! Restore his strength, Lord; renew his spirit, so that we may ride the pleasant winds together.
STRENGTH TO STAND
What strange creatures we are!
Sometimes bent over by every wind of adversity,
Sometimes standing firm and tall in the face of howling storms!
Lord of the wind and the rain and the sun,
Bring to me only what I can bear.
Shelter me when it’s necessary for survival.
But may I not shrink from adversity.
Let my roots reach deliberately for strength from Thee,
So that … whatever comes . . .
I SHALL STAND.
How long must I stay under Satan’s attack, Lord?
Or doesn’t it matter?
The length of time is certain to be short compared to eternity.
How hard must he hammer at my mind, Lord?
Not hard enough to make it crack, I hope.
Strengthen me through Your Word, so that his blows only make a noise,
But do no damage to the rugged steel with which You have reinforced me.
How much can I bear, Lord?
I don’t know, but You do.
You’ve made me, and You understand my weaknesses.
So I guess I’ll just have to trust You to limit the enemy to what You know I can take.
So far, it has turned out to be more than I had thought.
How much more will there be?
Oh, it’s O.K., Lord.
You don’t have to answer that question now.
It’s best You just show me over a period of time.
Must Satan’s aim be so accurate?
How does he always hit the weak spot?
And with such a keen sense of timing?
His knowledge and skill overwhelm me, Lord!
But You are much wiser and more skillful than he.
So Satan’s schemes need not be my downfall.
I will trust You, Lord,
For You are far greater!
I’ve been engaged in a battle today . . .
And I have won.
But I don’t feel like a victor.
After all, shouldn’t a victor march Into the city on a white horse,
with crowds shouting his acclaim?
I feel more like a weary, filthy soldier, dismally climbing Into his hole,
wounded and bleeding,
almost wishing he had died some valiant death.
This is victory?
Well, at least a partial one, I guess.
Another battle fought and finished,
But more to come.
I must keep my eyes on the final goal . . .
the final victory that God has promised to those who serve Him faithfully.
I must remember that no cost is too great in winning His favor.
He will cleanse me and renew my strength.
I will rally once more and follow Him
Who was and Is and always will be THE VICTOR.
There is no victory . . . without a battle.
There is no release . . . without first knowing bondage.
There is no refining . . . without the fire.
There is no healing . . . apart from pain.
There is no patience learned . . . without enduring tribulation.
There is no godly sacrifice . . . without painful giving.
There is no resurrection . . . without first tasting death.
If I want the results . . . I must welcome the process.