There is No Victory Without Surrender!
So many times, it seems we are tangled in struggles. Fearful that we will never see the light of day. Victory is a fleeting hope that fades with every confrontation. Have you been there? Caught in a relentless battle; draining every part of your will to win. A battle that leaves you mired in a puddle of doubt and uncertainty. Yet, somehow, we persevere. As Christians we know it’s when we have nothing left,
God is all we need.
When we are vulnerable, that’s when God is strong!
Scripture tells us that with God, all the problems and barriers thrown in our path, will fortify us, making us stronger. All the while, strengthening our faith. At the same time God works to build our character, while preparing us for challenges and tough times. More importantly, walking in faith builds our trust in God, while our obedience builds His trust in us.
So, the next time you are overwhelmed with trouble, or hard times, be thankful, and know that with God, you are getting stronger!
There is no growth without friction!
Think of how our bodies were created to deal with stress and injury. Getting off the couch, you grab a shovel, and head to the backyard for some Gardening. Typically, what is the first thing that happens? Blisters!
Just saying the word brings pain. You work hard all day long to provide some food or beauty, and what’s the result? Your hands and knees are covered in those bubbles just under your skin. If one pops, you know the pain that follows. In addition to the blisters, the muscles throughout your body feel like you just finished a game of Football, and you were the Football!
You’ve changed your routine and started using your hands and body for physical labor. Your body is simply protecting you from doing major damage. While the painful blisters and muscles slow you down for healing, your body is recreating itself to endure your new activities in the Garden. God never promised there wouldn’t be pain. Instead, God designed our bodies to become what we need them to be going forward, to handle the task at hand. The circumstances of our lives are no different. Sure, there are times when we feel like we can’t take one more step; that there is no clear path to a good ending. Like the blisters, it hurts. Sometimes the pain is unbearable.
In my career there were so many times that it felt as if everything in my life was working against me. Trouble and strife at work would be followed by nights full of family discord and friction. Day after day, night after night, one kick in the teeth followed by a punch in the stomach. The conflicts would wear on me until it seemed there was no way to climb out of the muck and mire. In prayer, God always led me to hang on. Not with immediate answers to prayer. The seas never parted, nor did angels herald my deliverance. Instead, it always felt like God simply had his arm around me saying; it’s going to be okay. The same way my dad would comfort me after loosing a ball game. No promise of victory, no excuses for what happened. Just a simple hug full of comfort.
For me, that was all it took to not give up. Slowly, my life changed with one small victory after another. God would go to work knocking down barriers and changing hearts. The successes were so small sometimes, they were hard to see. It was only when looking back at the steps of my life that God’s guidance and protection became crystal clear.
Through it all, it was those events, the tough ones. The unbearable times when it was the hardest to hold on, that always seemed to create the best parts of my life. Amid all the strife and conflict, my biggest blessings were born.
Several years ago, it was God’s plan for me to experience Brain surgery and the extensive recovery that follows.
After a God filled trip to the Emergency room of the Mayo Clinic Hospital and a miraculous surgery to remove a brain bleed, it was necessary for me to learn to use my hands and walk again. So off to a rehabilitation/therapy clinic. It was my first time to be transported from one medical facility to another by ambulance. The trip helped me realize just how much the surgery had altered my ability to function normally. Simple tasks like walking or using my hands were now an ordeal that needed focus and concentration.
Upon arrival, sitting in the bed that would be my new home for the next few weeks. My thoughts were flooded with questions and concerns. Would my life ever be normal again? Were walkers, wheelchairs and scooters going to be my new mode of transportation? How would my wife cope with an invalid? Scary is too small of a word to describe my anxiety.
Then, the door to my room flew wide open. In walked this kind but authoritative nurse. Turned out, she wasn’t a nurse at all. Announcing that she was the lead therapist on my case she asked, “What brings you here?” Scurrying around the room, she proceeded to organize everything in my room to make it more efficient for me.
After listening to a brief recap of my story. She walked up to the side of my bed, looking me in the eyes and taking my hand, she said, “My name is Betty, and don’t you worry about a thing. It’s my job to make sure you walk out of here as if you never went through surgery. And, you should know, I’m pretty good at my job.”
It felt like the weight of the world had been lifted off me, allowing me to roll over and sleep like a baby.
Even with all my experiences staying in Hotels and Hospitals it was still always a little weird sleeping in a strange bed, especially in a hospital. After a tough year of being in one hospital or another, it had become easier to get some real sleep. Still anxious, waking up as the sun was peeking through the shades, my thoughts began to wonder what my first day in rehab would be like.
The door to my room flew open and in with a flood of sunlight walked Betty. “Good Morning! Are you ready to get out of here yet? We’ve got a busy day planned for you!”
In wonder, my first question was, “How long do you think it’ll take to re-train the muscles in my Hands and Legs? “Ha!” she exclaimed with a big grin. “Sugar, rehabilitation has nuttin’ to do with muscles, ‘cept maybe the muscle between your ears.”
“Rehab is all about belief. Belief in your ability to walk, not belief in your muscles.” She went on to explain. “When you sit down, do you think about your butt? Do you focus on how your leg muscles are bending your knees?” Almost preaching now she continued, “Do you even wonder if the chair will hold you? Heck no! You just sit down.”
“That’s how you will walk out of this place.” Oozing confidence she continued. “When you walk through that door, you’re gonna be thinking about hugging your bride and kids, not your next step! Now, let’s get started!”
With my new understanding of the power of faith in things unknown and unseen, it was only a few weeks later we were saying our goodbyes while walking out the door to hug my wife and kids.
While that experience was horrific at so many levels, it taught me that it is the friction in life that strengthens our faith. Every time we have a victory, small or large, we are emboldened to take a step of faith again. Each time we step in faith, our belief grows. Our Faith is strengthened, and we trust that God will cover and protect us. God uses our faith and trust to show us that He loves us and will always be there for us. Like sitting in a chair, eventually our faith becomes a complete and unquestioning trust in God, and His promises. Like those blisters, God give us what we need to persevere.
God knows your pain and like any loving Father, He would do anything to eliminate your agony. Your body uses pain to slow you down while building your new body. In the same way, God will slow you down with the pain and frustrations of life. Not to hurt or punish you. God uses our pain to make us stronger, more resilient. God created us to become stronger and more resistant through tough times. Always remember that we are conquerors and that when God is in it, there is no limit. Have faith in God; listening for his Still, Quiet voice for direction, and Persevere!
“Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”James 1:4
There is no victory without first fighting a battle. With God, there is no victory without surrender. Surrendering all to God, giving Him your complete and unconditional trust. It is in our complete surrender that we find God’s Grace and Courage.
…Courage, Purified like Silver in the Fires of Surrender & Humility
…Courage, Strengthened Like Steel in the Furnace of Struggle
…Courage, Polished Through the Friction of Strife, Like a Pearl