Persistence in the midst of resistance

By Erika Rizkallah

Well, so much for blogging every day. In a recent post I wrote about resistance and it got the better of me last week. I’m in the midst of a bad fibro flare and though I wanted to write, I couldn’t.

cold pack

The skin on my head was so excruciating even my hair hurt. My face swelled up and I had to “wear” a cold pack. Worst of all, I couldn’t think of anything but the pain.

I was also scheduled to go away for the weekend for a five-year reunion with some of my best friends and I rested for several days so I could go – and I did!

So, it’s back to the drawing writing board for me. In the words of B.F. Skinner, “A failure is not always a mistake, it may simply be the best one can do under the circumstances. The real mistake is to stop trying.”

 

The key to calm in the storm

By Erika Rizkallah

As I wrote this post, a storm raged outside. It’s name was Joaquin.

Isn’t naming storms strange? I’m not sure why we do this. Why do we try to “humanize” a havoc wreaking force of nature? It’s not as if Joaquin is a friendly visitor popping in for coffee. No . . . Joaquin is no friend of mine. He’s flooding my town and turning my backyard into a swimming pool.

backyard flood

See, there I go using the pronoun “he” for what’s really a large mass of wind and rain. It’s a storm for Pete’s sake! And who is Pete and why is this a phrase?

I guess it’s part of our need to name things and somehow understand them better. It gives us a sense of control over the mysterious. Oh sure, science has it all figured out so we no longer consider them “Acts of God” (until our insurance denies the claim – then it’s God’s fault.) We know what elements cause storms in our earthly environment, but what about the “storms of life?”

Who or what causes them? Do they really strengthen us as people claim or just leave a mess of nasty debris that needs to be cleaned up?

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Are you experiencing a hurricane of your own? Has a crisis whirled through your life like a tornado?

As my friend Sondra would say, “Rest in Jesus.”

He knows all about storms. Once when he and his disciples were cruising across the Sea of Galilee (actually a large lake), a perilous storm arose. Even today fierce storms suddenly occur on this lake, creating waves as high as twenty feet.

The account is written in the Bible in Luke 8:23: As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. “Where is your faith?” He asked his disciples.

Jesus is almighty and all power in heaven and on earth has been given to him. He will still the storms but we need faith in order to see it played out in our lives.

Let’s pray!: Heavenly Father, you are mighty and rescue us from trouble. Help us navigate through our trials with grace and peace. Help us trust you when it appears you are asleep to our problems. We know you have good plans for us and we ask that your timing and will be done in our lives. Amen.

Quiet Time Musings: The Difficulty of the Christian Life

Last night a friend and I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning discussing the Christian life. We lamented the fact that being obedient to God’s calling and will for believers is challenging. Here are some of the questions we asked:

Why is it so hard to be obedient?

Why does God allow certain things to happen in our lives even though we’re wholeheartedly trying to follow Him?

Why do we not do the things we know are right and instead, do what we know is wrong?

We both went to bed pondering. In fact, I assumed I’d be faced with a sleepless night if I continued to think about it – fortunately I was wrong and slept like a baby.

In my quiet time this morning God gifted me with an answer through the day’s devotional reading in My Utmost For His Highest. The scripture was this: Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow is the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. Matthew 7:13-14

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The author, Oswald Chambers says, “If we are going to live as disciples of Jesus, we have to remember that all noble things are difficult. The Christian life is gloriously difficult, but the difficulty of it does not make us faint and cave in, it rouses us up to overcome.”

I often forget Jesus’ words . . . Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me (follow me), he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Matthew 16:24 emphasis mine

Jesus’ cross was heavy. In fact, it was so heavy that when he stumbled beneath the weight of it, the Roman guards called another man to help him carry it to the road leading to the place of his crucifixion.

Jesus_carrying_cross

Our crosses are heavy too. In order to carry it we have to have Jesus’ help. And with his help, we too can overcome.

Are you struggling under a heavy load right now? As Jesus frequently reminded his disciples, Take courage! He is with you.

Your Turn: My challenge for you today is to find a friend. Speak aloud your needs, confess your sin and ask for prayer as you struggle to journey through the narrow gate.