Crashing Through the Quitting Places

Often, I take the back roads near my house in order to access the main highway.  Though this path is quite curvy to navigate, the scenery is striking.  My favorite corner along this route houses a pasture where a large horse can often be seen grazing.  Two miniature horses are usually accompanying him.  These beautiful animals always bring a smile to my face.  I go a little further and approach what the townspeople  here call “death bridge”.  It is a narrow, rickety one-way bridge that spans over the railroad tracks below.

As I prepare to cross the bridge my eyes always come to rest on a landmark that has become an eyesore to me, and likely to all who pass by.   Several years ago a garden center occupied several acres in this location.  It was sold to a developer who planned to build an active retirement community.  The developer displayed his plans, and made a start….but never finished.  Years later this project consists of a few unfinished cement walls covered with graffiti and weeds.

For some reason, the builder did not finish what was started.  I don’t know what obstacles stood in the way.  Perhaps he could not get the financing or he ran into various permit restrictions.  Maybe he just changed his mind.  Whatever happened, this collection of cement, graffiti and weeds is now only a monument to what “could have been”.  I  am always reminded of the scripture on the cost of following Jesus described in Luke 14:28-30

“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? [29] For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, [30] saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’

I want my life to always reflect Jesus, instead of becoming an unfinished monument to “almost, woulda, shoulda”.

Often, we are tempted to quit before we reach breakthroughs that bring about victory or completion.  Perseverance is hard.  We don’t even ‘experience’ perseverance until we want to quit.

When are you tempted to quit?  Perhaps it is when trying overcome a character weakness or sin; or perhaps it is beginning a new, good habit.  Maybe you know you need to find God and yet find excuses that keep you from following through.  You may need to resolve a relationship that seems too hard or begin one that seems overwhelming.   Do you have a dream you want to pursue…but think of a thousand reasons why it won’t work?

Through the years I have come to trust that God is capable of empowering me to do whatever He asks of me.  Yet, there are times I tire of pushing through difficulties, or welcoming new areas where I  can grow spiritually.  Sometimes I  get weary of simple mundane tasks like dishes, laundry and flossing my teeth.  Then I think of scriptures such as Hebrews 10:35-39

So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. [36] You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. [37] For in just a very little while,

“He who is coming will come and will not delay.

[38] But my righteous one will live by faith.

And if he shrinks back,

I will not be pleased with him.”

[39] But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.

These words help me to crash through the quitting places in my life. And I still hope that one day, as I pass by the concrete slab on the way to the highway…the weeds will be gone and the foundation that was started will be a vibrant and active community, another garden center, or even a pasture where a few more horses can feed. It’s not too late.

Erasing “Not Possible”

Often, during times when I visited Eastern Europe on business, I brought with me a plethora of tasks that needed to be accomplished.  I met with many different people to begin the process of various undertakings such as the summer HOPE Youth Corps, the home for orphans, and even our own adoption experience.  Two words were often repeated – “not possible”.   I would hear the phrase, “not possible” over and over again in response to numerous requests and situations.  Though I realized much of the reason for this stemmed from a culture that had been under a dictatorship for many years… I still despised that phrase.  To me, that phrase sort of “puts its toe over the line” – as if to dare me to try to go forward.  These types of situations get my spiritual adrenaline juices going,… because I know that God specializes in the impossible.  When I hear “it’s not possible” –  it excites me to see what God might do.

I grew up with a dad who displayed a sign on his desk that read, “Now tell me all the reasons why it can be done.”  This exemplified  to me his character and faith.   I also remember a  time listening to my oldest sister recount a conversation with a police officer concerning a ticket she had gotten for going down a one-way street the wrong way.   Instead of paying a fine, she persuaded the court to change the road to become a two way street.  I have been inspired by the faith of so many I have seen around me and read so many accounts of real men and women in the Bible who stepped out on faith to witness God do the impossible.   So, I am well acquainted with examples of those who saw obstacles and challenges as mere “hiccups”.

More importantly, my spiritual Father created the universe out of darkness and void, closed the mouths of lions, and drenched a parched land from a tiny cloud – just to mention a very few feats.  He brought a nation of people from a closed womb, sent his son to be born of a virgin and then raised him from the dead.   His finest work comes from the most unlikely and impossible situations.

Sometimes, it takes tenaciousness and sometimes it requires our stepping out of our comfort zone to be used to change a situation.  I remember one particular (albeit  insignificant) situation like this.  I was pregnant with our first child and decided I wanted to stay (or get) in shape and take an exercise class.  So, I went to a neighborhood gym and inquired about joining a class for pregnant women.  The manager gave me an inquisitive look and told me there was no such thing.  I proceeded to convince him that this was a big mistake for their business and they needed to offer such a class.  In fact, they should pay me to teach it.  Granted, I had no background in this and didn’t know what I was doing.  I probably looked ridiculous.  I wore an old purple sweat suit that I wore when exercising (we had little money so it had to suffice as my exercise wardrobe.)   I looked much like an Easter egg.

Next thing I knew I was the new instructor for the “maternity aerobics” class.  I felt very out of my element…so purchased a “Jane Fonda”  video tape for pregnant women and did exactly what she did (well at least attempted to).  I thrill seeing possibilities unfold from “not possible” responses.

When you are faced with a situation that seems to have reached a dead end it is certainly possible that God is simply saying “no”.  However, it is also possible that He may want to use you or circumstances around you to change a seemingly impossible situation.  In order to find out, it takes our stepping out on faith…most often out of our comfort zones.   What situations do you face that seem impossible to change… even when you know they need to change and it is within God’s plan for them to change?  What are some things that stretch your imagination to envision being different?  Maybe it’s seeing an obstacle be overcome, changing something in your character, or healing a relationship.  You may have numerous “not possibles” in your mind.  As you think of them,  consider the following scriptures:

Romans 4:17-21

  As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed–the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.   Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” [19] Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead–since he was about a hundred years old–and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. [20] Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, [21] being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.

Ephes. 3:20-21

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, [21] to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

What “not possibles” might you erase by trusting that God is able to do more than you dare ask or imagine?