God's Gift Of Challenges
Recently, I had one of the most visceral dreams I have ever experienced. You know those dreams that are incredibly vivid? The dreams that seem as if they truly were a life experience?
So, my husband John and I were instructed to pick up a car and deliver it to someone. Once we agreed to this, the only thing in question was how the delivery would occur. John and I were at the top of a very steep hill. For us to get the car, we had to navigate our way on foot, down this ridiculous embankment - full of briars and rocks; tall grass and big dips in the terrain. Waiting at the bottom of this hill was a pond full of thick, green, murky, smelly water. The car that we had to deliver, was waiting on the other side of the pond.
Although this dream occurred months ago, I can still clearly visualize nearly every moment. With an almost unsurmountable anxiety and hesitation, John and I began our descent of the hill. The first step was done. Then two and three. With every forward movement, our momentum increased so much that at one point we were air bound. At this point our hearts were racing and our respiration had increased as we were very much in fear for our lives. Then out of nowhere, God cupped His giant hands together to catch us and we landed ever so gently inside them.
Now, my husband and I felt nothing but peace throughout our bodies. We knew beyond ANY doubt that we would be okay. God then lovingly placed us in the nasty water so we could finish what we set out to do. We didn’t care! It didn’t matter that we were in the most disgusting water we had ever been in because we knew that God would always carry us through the yuck!! I awoke and excitedly nudged John out of his sleep to share my dream. My excitement waned somewhat with the realization that things are about to get tough.
No matter our circumstances, God carries us through all the murky water in our lives. Through danger and fear. Pain and heartache. Difficulty and distress, He gets us through it. We will need to navigate the difficult terrain, but that’s where we build our character and faith.
“No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; He’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; He’ll always be there to help you come through it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13 MSG).
Hopefully, this is what Lent has been helping us prep for. The faithful knowing that God will get us through the yuck. ALWAYS.
I saw a video with the lead singer of the band Tenth Avenue North, Mike Donehey. Donehey was talking about a conversation he’d had with God. In the video, he explained how his band members were in a difficult season in life. He began asking God why He lets bad things happen to good people. He said, “God asked me, ‘Why do you call Good Friday, Good Friday?’”
He proceeds to tell us God said, “Good Friday was not the day when bad things happened to a good person. Good Friday was the day when the worst things happened to the best person and it’s still called Good. Maybe Good Friday is called Good Friday because we know what happens on Easter Sunday.”
Donehey refers to Isaiah 43:2 which says “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”
In the blink of an eye our life seasons can go from beautifully peaceful to brutally chaotic, can’t they? Hardship happens. How can we get the beautiful peace all the time?
We don’t. In fact, sometimes our hearts can hurt so much that we don’t know how we can go on. It can be unbearable. As I reflect on all the seasons in my life, I’ve reached the point that I’m grateful for the chaos I managed to survive. It gave me strength. It enriched and deepened my faith and my relationship with God.
That’s what life is all about isn’t it? Us becoming who we were created to be, despite what happens around us (or maybe because of it).
“Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad – for these trials make you partners with Christ in His suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing His glory when it is revealed to all the world.” (1 Peter 3:12-13 NLT)
So, on those days that the world seems too big and too insane, I cling to the thought of my dream. That faithful knowing that God’s got this and the peaceful belief that I don’t have to try so hard because He’s will always carry me through. It all turns out great on Easter Sunday, right?