Tripped Up by the Challenges?

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, Hebrews 12:1

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When I was a lot younger, I imagined a perfect life ahead of me.  I knew exactly what I wanted to do, had visions of how my future would look, and kept focus on those expectations.

I think it is fair to say that none of them panned out.

I also bought into the Walt Disney 'happy ever after' (in this world) promise that Uncle Wally held out to us.  As I have said before, he lied to us.

There isn't a happily ever after - at least not Disney-style.

What there are, are challenges.

And I even viewed challenges differently then than I do now.

When challenges first entered my life I thought it was some kind of a mistake, that I had done something wrong, and that once the challenge was met there would be smooth sailing.

Well, the challenges didn't stop for me.

But I expected them to.  I expected that as I faced a particular challenge, it would finally be the last one and then life would be "good" in ordinary terms. And I'd get frustrated and angry as the next challenge appeared.

If you've known me very long, you know that hasn't been true.  Hurdle after hurdle has been placed in front of me - and my family.

And I continue to try to get past them.  Sometimes jumping over then fairly easily, sometimes finding myself completely tripped up by the hurdle, but I do get up and keep going again.  God sees to that.

I no longer expect the challenges to disappear.

While I pray it could be so.  Every time I do manage to get past a hurdle, another seems to take its place.

As I said to a dear friend in an email, "I think life is simply a series of challenges with breathing spaces in-between."

Sometimes the breathing spaces are longer than others.  Sometimes the challenges are so close together that I only get a gasp of air or two before we are off and running.

I've been hit by a particularly difficult challenge in my personal life.  I can see this one taking me down for a long time, if I let it.  I wake in the middle of the night thinking.  I find myself not being able to get back to sleep.  It wants to take up my time and my energy.

And I'm the one who has to say "No."

No, I won't allow that to happen.

I refer back to yesterday's post.  It helped me so much to realize that the words I penned are true.  They are what gives me the breathing space I need, the strength I need, the courage I need to keep facing the challenges thrown at me.

Do I understand the reason for them?  To a degree.

Yet now I understand and accept that the "race that is set before me" is beset with hurdles.  It's kind of like the hurdle event in the Olympics.  Those extremely long-legged, lanky athletes have learned to take those hurdles in stride.  Their bodies are built for those particular challenges. They have developed a rhythm.  They expect the next hurdle.  They are prepared.

I think we need to prepare for our life challenges as well.  If no challenge appears, "Praise God!"  If they do, we know how to handle it.

How do we prepare?  We come closer and closer to God.  We become intimate with Him.  He becomes our best friend.  

We rely on Him to get us up and over.

And the great thing?

He has promised He will do it.

It may not be the way we expected.  We may not find that happily-ever-after fairy tale life ending in the Disney fashion.

But the happily-ever-after ending we will one day find?

It's out of this world.

Father God, Grant us strength as we deal with the challenges placed before us.  Grant us reliance on You.  Help us to draw close to You.  Help us look to You.  Help us to realize that running this race is so worth it and that what we will find at the finish line of our lives will be unbelievable.  Amen and amen.

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