Things just aren’t coming together the way you’d planned

Things just aren’t coming together the way you’d planned.

This was the road you felt sure God led you to take. You’re no day-tripper with God. You’ve signed on for life. The eternal kind.

And you’re not one to go off-roading. No. You take the directions seriously. You keep your eyes on those Jesus tracks in the sand. You pray. You obey. The best you can for someone relying on grace. You avoid the shadowlands and live in the light – even when it reveals your failings.

Maybe that’s what’s getting to you. The glare.

Why doesn’t it get any easier? Why does it seem that others struggle less? Why does one dreamer’s dream appear while another watches his dream dissipate like a mirage at sundown? Where is the promised water in this desert? All you’re getting is the thirst.

Aching, relentless thirst.

Righteousness. What of that illusive gift? You’ve sung of it with such confidence, but on weekdays it’s hard to find, especially when you’re facing the mirror. Others worry about wrinkles, but you, you’re seeking that lotion that removes the vague fear that you’re disappointing God.

If He’s going to complete His work in you, why do you feel so undone? If His yoke is easy and His burden is light, why do you feel so weighed down? If He has promised you a peace that passes all understanding, why is your gut churning and your blood pressure an issue of concern? You know He’s doing His part, so it must be you.

Seriously, you’ve been following Him far too long to feel this way. The smell of spring used to fill you with hope, but this season it feels like even dandelions know something you don’t.

Life is just more ragged and untidy than you imagined it would be following Jesus. This doesn’t feel like a narrow path, it feels like bushwhacking through thick jungle carrying a full pack with the enemy hot on your trail.

And if one more person tells you it’s Satan, you might just give into the temptation to thump a Bible or two in their direction.

You’re too old for this. You know too much. You’ve known the Lord too long to entertain this level of frustration and despair. How come everything you know, every Bible verse you’ve absorbed, every hymn and praise song you’ve memorized, every prayer you’ve prayed isn’t working to lift your bootstraps out of this current funk?

The news keeps coming – global and personal – a relentless conspiracy to remind you how far we are from home. You hear yourself encourage others. Speak truths you believe, but the words taste like dust as you speak them. Your voice sounds distant – like an echo of a you that still exists somewhere – but right now, you’re struggling to access that person of faith.

Then, just as you’re feeling like maybe you’re the hypocrite all the haters are shouting about, you hear the hiss of accusation that brings you back to solid ground.

“Why don’t you just give up? If you gave up, things would be so much easier. You take it all too serious, you know. Others are doing fine, because they’ve learned to compromise. You’ll see. Give in. It will all get so much easier. Does this burden feel light to you? No, of course not, where’s your promised peace? C’mon. Don’t take it all so literally. The world is right. This narrow road is for dupes and fools. Look where it’s gotten you. Out here lost in the weeds. Turn back now. There’s no shame in turning back.”

The voice of the enemy is unmistakable. You recognize the accuser and can now trace the poisonous trail of vaporous lies he’s been whispering to you all along. Shooting them like arrows disguised as your own thoughts into your weary mind. You almost fell for it, but mercy reigns.

Your ear is tuned to the Shepherd’s voice. You lift up your eyes and remember that saints before you have been tempted to lay down and give up alongside the narrow way. You remember you’re not alone. He is nearby even when the road feels long and the story far from complete.

If other stories are shining with promises fulfilled and comforts provided while yours is still in the working and the waiting, well, it just means yours is epic. Maybe you need a rest. It’s a long, hard journey to Mordor. Maybe you need a friend. A good meal. A long nap. And a song.

He will never forsake you. Not Jesus. He did call you on this road and if you hunger and thirst for righteousness, know for sure you are blessed and will one day be filled.

And if you are weary, remember that you’re human. You have limits. He knows them better than you do. Don’t resist His nudging guidance to rest beside the quiet waters. He’s not taking you off the front lines, just issuing you a furlough for some R & R (refilling and remembrance).

Refill on His boundless resources.

Remember whose you are.

He’s not disappointed in you. It’s cute you think you’re more holy when you feel holy, but Jesus made you wholly clean all the time no matter how you feel at any given moment.

These times are hard, hard for a lot of people. Harder than we’re all willing to let on all the time. But, He designed us for these times. Stay alert to the voice of the accuser and call the snake out when he tries to draw you in.

Out into the Light.

Jesus has the last word on every story. Remember, He’s still telling yours.

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5 Comments

    The Conversation

  1. This is great, Lori. Thank you.

  2. This absolutely rings true! When I’m struggling in my walk, my mind settles on a humorous quote from St. Teresa of Avila: “Dear Lord, if this is how You treat Your friends, it is no wonder You have so few!”

  3. Kim Wilbanks says:

    You read my mind. (But put it into much better words than I could). Thank you

  4. Ahhhhh….
    Kindred Spirit friend.
    I hear you. I know.
    All we are called to do is to be faithful. And to keep on. Then again to keep on.
    God handles the rest. I truly do believe some of us experience only quiet accomplishment this side of heaven…

  5. Isabelle says:

    Wow, thank you so very much for this. Going through the spiritual doldrums, where the wind of the Spirit seems lacking and it seems your vessel is going nowhere at all, despite all your consistent efforts to do what you should; it’s refreshing to be reminded that revival and rest will come. I loved the quote, “It’s cute you think you’re more holy when you feel holy, but Jesus made you wholly clean all the time no matter how you feel at any given moment.” No matter where our emotions take us, He remains the same. No matter how our mindset may swing, He is forever the same. He is always faithful, and is faithful to see and reward our diligence in following Him (even when we don’t feel like it.)
    Thank you, for this much-needed reminder and encouragement!