How do you see the obstacles in your life?
- As hindrances to reaching a goal?
- As stepping stones to greater learning and depth?
- As turning points in our lives that steer us in a new direction?
When have you last faced a good-sized obstacle?
- A sudden breakup of a relationship you thought would last.
- An illness that derails your ability to continue building your career.
- A demanding boss who gives you responsibility without authority, leading to burnout.
- The death of a child, or spouse, after which you have to recreate yourself, your purpose, who you are.
My brother, newly widowed, faces one of these obstacles right now after loving his wife for 55 years. Like many of us, I’ve faced obstacles on several occasions, for example–
- when widowed,
- when feeling bound in a legalistic ministry, and
- when laid off.
And yet, each of these has directed me in a way that resulted in good in the end. When Jerry died, I knew God still had a purpose and a plan for me. I began to ask what was next. I grieved deeply, but looked for purpose. I began to write articles and blogs about grief and recovery.
God gave me two precious younger women to invest in. I got a dog, Kelly, who brought me delight and laughter! And, after a time, both the dog and I fell in love with my current husband, Don, through a grief recovery group.
Becoming free of a legalistic ministry was a growth process. Learning that “no” can be a good word is still a work in progress. But after I left that ministry, I felt a new freedom to be who God called me to be rather than who someone else expected me to be.
And being laid off led me to a new position with greater responsibility…and with significant medical coverage when my late husband became ill.
Actor Ashton Kuchner recently said he is “lucky to be alive” after he dealt with a rare autoimmune disorder two years ago that left him unable to hear, see or walk.
His attitude tells us a great deal.
“The minute you start seeing your obstacles as things that are made for you, to give you what you need, then life starts to get fun, right? You start surfing on top of your problems instead of living underneath them,” he said.
So how do we deal with obstacles life throws our way?
These words are from Solomon, considered to be the wisest man who ever lived.
He doesn’t say our paths are straight. He says that as we trust in God, He will make our paths straight–past the accidents and incidents of life, the round trips we sometimes take. Why? Because our God is trustworthy. He will not fail us. When God commanded the Israelites to take possession of the Promised Land, Moses said:
So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.Deuteronomy 31:6 NLT
Don’t lean on your own understanding.
I recently texted a group of friends about my sister-in-law’s passing. I was hurt when one didn’t respond. So I asked her about it. She was going through some difficult challenges herself at the time. She told me she immediately began to pray for us, but didn’t have the energy to text back. It’s so easy to misunder-stand others, their intent, what they are going through at any particular time. Our understanding can be very flawed, as mine was.
Submit to him in all your ways. I love to be in control. Do you? And yet, submitting to God means letting go, trusting that He knows better than I what is best for me. When I was in college, I lived across the street from a senior housing area.
As I walked through the area one night, I felt a tug to knock on a specific door.
“That doesn’t make sense, Lord. It’s already eight o’clock and they might be in bed. I don’t know these people.”
The tug got stronger.
I knocked on the door and was greeted by a lovely, elderly couple who welcomed me into their home several times over the year. We were able to talk about Jesus and about life, and the new friendship became meaningful to all of us.
I could have ignored that tug, “leaned on my own understanding.” I’m glad I didn’t!
How have you seen obstacles turned into opportunities?