Over the past few months, my posts have been mostly about living fully even while in limbo, being intentional in every moment, and creating authentic culture wherever that culture may be. Basically, keeping it real, right where you are.
Even when you don’t necessarily love where you are.
Even when you don’t necessarily love what you’re doing.
Even when it feels like that certain thing you’re waiting for is taking FOR.EV.ER. (name that movie) and you don’t think you have one ounce of patience left.
Because that’s what I’ve been trying to do.
I’ve mentioned before that Stuart and I are currently raising support for our ministry with Athletes in Action. We have to raise 100% of our support before we can report to our assignment and can begin ministering to college athletes. We have come a really long way, and God has blessed us with 72% of our support! Like, wow, God is so great. We are finally starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel…but it still feels very much out of reach. We’ve come so far, but we’re not there yet.
We’re in the “lonely middle.” I call it the “lonely middle,” because the excitement of the journey’s beginning is gone, and obviously the excitement of the journey’s end hasn’t come yet. It’s just the middle. And it can definitely feel lonely.
And when you’re lonely, you can get vulnerable. And when you’re vulnerable, the devil can whisper lies. And when you feel alone, it’s easier to let yourself believe those lies. And all of the sudden, you’re super discouraged and very defeated.
One of the biggest ways I’ve realized the devil tries to get me down, is to remind me of how far we still have to go. And sometimes, that causes me to forget how far we’ve come. And all of the sudden, it get blown out of proportion, and it feels like we’ll NEVER make it. But that’s obviously not the case, and Stuart and I are almost 3/4 of the way to our goal! We just have to keep holding on.
So what do you do in the meantime between the “so far,” but “not yet?” To be honest, I have really struggled with this concept. It’s just plain hard! The past week has been a roller-coaster of emotions, one day I’d feel really great about where we are, and then the next day I’d focus too much on how far we have still to go. But in the midst of the ups and downs, I keep hearing one word:
I’m going to be honest…I’m not very good with perseverance. It’s kind of up there with patience. I’m just no good at waiting. And that’s probably why God is allowing it to be a big focus in my life right now. When I get frustrated or discouraged about waiting and having to persevere through tough times, I don’t always deal with it well. Many times, I just want to hide under my covers and come out when the waiting is over. (Yea, like that does any good.) But when I finally am ready to face reality, I’m brought to my knees, and picked up by the only One who can really keep me going. My go-to verse on perseverance is a well known verse from the book of James:
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
And sometimes we don’t just go through one trial at a time. We get hit with multiple things all at once. Trials on trials on trials. We’re brought to the brink of what we can handle, so we realize we really can’t handle anything without God. And not only that, but He also tells us to not just survive our trials, but consider them joy, knowing that they are for our own good and growth. I don’t know about you, but joy is NOT the first emotional response that comes to my mind when going through a trial. It doesn’t even make the top 10. Needless to say, I still have a long way to go, but raising support has definitely been growing my perseverance, and I’m clinging to the hope that this time is making me “mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
I’m currently reading the book, “Safely Home” by Randy Alcorn (and LOVING it!) and a quote one of the characters says really stuck with me. It made me realize that persevering during the quiet middle grounds of life can be very humbling, but if we let them, very much a blessed time as well. Persevering is all about not allowing the difficulties in life get you down, but holding onto them, living in them, and trusting God to bring about some good through them. Even if we never get to see what that good is this side of Heaven.