There have been a few times in my life where I have found myself at the end of my own rope, only to realize that I was trying to control it rather than proceeding in faith. We are all, at some level, prone to using God as a ‘Break Glass in Case of Emergency’ option rather than the first resort for our hearts to run to. I have found that as God has grown my faith, I have fortunately found myself turning to God in faith earlier and earlier, which is sanctification I suppose.
What can be breathtaking to see is when you find yourself in a tough position, only to see that the solution was not a deliverance from it, but a shift in perspective about it. Let me illustrate what I mean with a flash back in my own life.
I was in my first year of seminary, struggling to keep my head above the water. I was blessed to have a job that allowed me to commit myself to my studies, but I was at an end of myself. I had heard plenty of testimonies about the difficulties of seminary, but was making it through my first year ok. Whenever people would say it must be difficult, I would just respond saying that it was a pursuit aided by the Holy Spirit, so if God was behind it, I would get through it.
I had never really struggled all that much throughout school. There were things that were difficult, but I never had to pull an all nighter, never had to scrape by. But I did always struggle with languages. In my first year I was taking Hebrew and s-t-r-u-g-g-l-i-n-g. In addition to my Hebrew class, I had my Greek class, and my other two classes. It. Was. Hard. The end of the semester was quickly approaching.
I was at my little pool house home, studying late at night, and a great sense of anxiety rolled over me. I was finding it hard to breathe. I started feeling warm, getting sick. I had never experienced ANYTHING like this. It was completely foreign to me. I sat and thought about everything that I had due between then and the end of the semester. I was doing the math of how much time things would take and came to the conclusion that there was no way I could finish this. I remember collapsing into my bed begging God to help me.
Funny thing happened after my humiliation before God that night. All my work got done. And it wasn’t a skin of teeth effort. What I realized after this episode was that my circumstances were only overwhelming because my perspective was flawed. God never changed my circumstances. What needed changing was how I was approaching everything and depending upon my own effort and abilities to get it done.
This is a lesson that God has continued to teach me throughout my life, and one that I am happy to say I anticipate more and more. Last month, when I lost my job, there was an obvious shock that it was over, but I was completely ok with it. When I lost my job, I knew that my wife was at the dentists office and that the kids would be waiting in the waiting area. I drove there and hung out with the kids, and surprised my wife when she walked out. She was surprised to see me, and I just whispered, “I lost my job!” with a smile.
What I was excited about was that God was working in my life. We knew that I would be there as long as He wanted and not a minute longer. I was excited about seeing what God was going to do in this process. It was obviously a situation that I couldn’t navigate by myself or by my own means. I was excited to see how God was going to show me how He had things lined up and what how He was going to provide. What I can say, a little more than a month into this new reality is that God has been so unexpectedly gracious. God’s gracious provision has hit us on all sides and I can’t wait to see how He is going to continue!