Tag Archive: Wisdom

Facing Obstacles

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?

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 3:5-6

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?

Three Weeks

Just three weeks until we celebrate the greatest event of all history–no, not the victory at the Battle of the Bulge. Not the election of whichever Presidential candidate we supported. Not man landing on the moon. In three weeks we will celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ from death, conquering it for all eternity.

light people art silhouette
Photo by Thgusstavo Santana on Pexels.com

Imagine those last few weeks of Jesus’ life on earth. He knew the Cross was coming. I would think he experienced anticipatory grief. Mobs tried to throw him off a cliff, but he calmly walked through the crowd and away. Pharisees tried to catch him in a misstatement (but couldn’t–he called their bluffs). He was accused of not making his disciples follow the traditions that the Chief Priests and Rabbis had put in place, which were neither in scripture nor in Jesus’ teaching. The religious leaders wanted control. Jesus wouldn’t give it to them until it was his time.

He fed a crowd of four thousand men (plus women and children) with seven loaves of bread and a few fish. Mark 8:8 says “And they ate and were satisfied.” After the meal his disciples picked up seven basketsfull of leftovers!

The religious leaders tested Him over and over again, but were astonished at his answers because they couldn’t trip him up!

He healed the blind, the lame, the woman with chronic bleeding, and many others. He foretold his death to His disciples. Peter rebuked Him for talking that way, and Jesus rebuked Peter, saying he needed to focus his mind on the things of God rather than man (Mark 8:33)!

Then he called the crowd and his disciples together.

“If any of you wants to be my follower,” he told them, “you must put aside your own pleasures and shoulder your cross, and follow me closely. If you insist on saving your life, you will lose it. Only those who throw away their lives for my sake and for the sake of the Good News will ever know what it means to really live.

“And how does a man benefit if he gains the whole world and loses his soul in the process? For is anything worth more than his soul?”

Mark 8:34-37 TLB

As we enter this Easter season, let’s remember that we can’t be neutral about Jesus Christ. He said ““Whoever is not with me is against me…” Matthew 12:30a NIV.

Most of us aren’t in a court trial for our faith. But the reality of our confidence in Christ shows (or doesn’t) in our daily life. That’s where we’re on trial, day after day. Will we identify with Jesus? If I feel led to speak to a stranger, pray for my manicurist in her shop (and I do ask permission first), or reach out to someone in need, my thought is often “What will others think?” But isn’t that obedience the test of my faith? And how often do I fail because of unkindness, selfishness, or lack of love for others?

I want to write more about those weeks and days before Jesus’ death and resurrection. But I challenge you to join me in thinking, not just what can I give up for Lent, but how can my daily life reflect more of Jesus in my life?

I’d love to hear your reflections as you focus on Jesus’ death and resurrection.