Ever face an obstacle in life that you just didn’t want to go through? Where you felt absolutely paralyzed to move in any direction, let alone forward? I had one of those days this week. So what did I do to escape? I hopped on a bike at the gym and just rode miles. And miles… and miles (kind of like Forrest Gump!) There was a time when biking wouldn’t necessarily have been my first choice…. And there are still many of things that I do to escape… like just crawling into myself and just playing the piano, or working on some sort of Craigs’ List project – or something that I don’t have to put actual thought into, but can do relatively mindlessly while I wallow in self-pity. It is good to have ways to escape. But the reality is that sometimes we JUST HAVE TO MOVE FORWARD. As much as we’d like to just sit down and pretend the world around us is not happening. But how do we do that?
What do I do when I really just don’t want to face it?
When I left for the gym that day after a whirlwind sort of morning dropped some things in my lap that I honestly just didn’t want to face, I had an overwhelming sense that I just needed to hear the voice of God. It was a craving for His voice to comfort me and tell me everything was going to be ok. I can remember when I was a young teenager, home on summer break. My mom set the expectation that I was to call her every morning when I woke up (because, of course, she left before I woke up). I remember that the sound of her voice answer the phone was comforting. Years later, after I was married, I recall feeling that sense of comfort when I called mom and just heard her voice. Somehow on that morning, I craved the comfort that only my Heavenly father could give. I have a Bible app on my phone that I use regularly to read scripture… but I just wanted to HEAR scripture today. I’m not sure why I hadn’t done this before, but I downloaded the BIBLE onto Audible. I really wanted to listen to Psalms, but the app downloaded the Bible in many “parts” (not by book or chapter), so I couldn’t necessarily tell which “part” was psalm, and they were still in process of downloading all 83 hours and 13 minutes of the complete New International Version of the Audio Bible. So Joshua 19 it was. The good news is that the narrator has an English accent, so it was kind of cool hearing him read scripture. Somehow I think God orchestrates far more in our lives than we ever realize, and I believe this event was no exception. Although the specific text of Joshua I was hearing was actually pretty dry (it was on the division of the land to the Israelites), my mind began to wander to the verse in Jeremiah (29:11) that is my life-verse. This is a verse that I heard explicitly in my early 20’s from a close family friend who is a pastor: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, Plans to prosper you and not to harm you; plans to give you hope and a future” It goes on to say, “then you will call on me and come to pray to me, and I will listen to you”. It was a reassurance to me that, even though I may face obstacles I don’t necessary want to, God has an ultimate plan for my life.
That evening, I dug out a few verses that I thought were appropriate for when we are facing unpleasant things. As I thought about it, and started searching for scripture that might give me an answer, I realized this was exactly what Jesus felt like when preparing to go to the cross. In the garden of Gethsemane, when He said (Luke 22:42-44, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done. An angel from Heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground”. I bolded a sentence above – one that I had never even noticed before today. Even Jesus needed support – and the angel was there to strengthen him. And the angel was right there to support Him! The interesting thing about this passage is that Jesus felt exactly like I did on that day – He had to face something he really didn’t want to have to do – and He even asked God to take it on so that He didn’t have to do it. We all know how that ended, right? He DID have to go through that which he didn’t want to… and so do we sometimes.
Our obstacles are different – it could be a physical obstacle; or an emotional obstacle; an educational obstacle like a test or something, or to have to break bad news to someone; but we all have them. In those “obstacle moments”, I relish in the fact that I know I have a God that has a plan for my life – and know that He will strengthen me just when I need it. I am so thankful for the encouragement that you all have given to me along my journey – and I pray that I can be encouragement back to you to keep going when you don’t feel like it.