A Starting Over Handicap
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.
— Colossians 3:23
My mother informed me one day as she was telling stories about my childhood, “Your kindergarten teacher tirelessly encouraged you to rework your project in a different direction. When you felt you had made a mistake, not doing what you had planned to do, immediately you threw it away and looked for a new piece of paper to start over.”
Perhaps I missed the “everything you need to know you learned in kindergarten” principle. If the truth be told, my first thought is still to throw a mistake away and start over – even on my grocery list. When I am asked to speak at a women’s event, I often throw away 10 drafts before a “working” one settles into a spot on my desk. My sister and I have been planning a mini Cousins Camp agenda for our upcoming family reunion. She just shakes her head as I email again and again and say, “Please use this schedule and throw the last one away.”
When we work at something, it should come out the way we planned, right? Well, I have learned it is certainly nice when that happens, but the reality is, God is in control, not us, not me. He is writing my story – even the little details. He is steering me on the path according to His wisdom and plan for my life. This doesn’t always come to my mind as quickly as I would like. I get caught up in my plans. Though the real peace and freedom comes when I can remember this truth.
When I begin my day praying that I will turn stumbling blocks into stepping stones, my attitude strengthens and braces for an adventure, instead of a chore. My flesh often wants to lean toward disappointment, negativity, and blame. It can be easy for me to justify and excuse, but down deep, I know better, and I want better. With an intentional heart, and stopping to pray, I turn my attitude to grateful, to positive, and I focus on the goal. I want my day to honor the Lord. I want my day to be a pleasant one for the people I will encounter. The gift of the Gospel shouts God’s love for me and I must respond. Sometimes, in weariness, I respond, and I know He understands. The realization of this truth often breaks through my soul with joy and my energy is renewed. So, when it seems like nothing but stumbling blocks stand before me, I try to remember to take heart. Through the years, He continues to teach me when I acknowledge His control, His plan, when I am willing to do the work, the stepping stones appear. I am so grateful that He doesn’t have a starting over handicap.
At the beginning of this week, my calendar squares listed appointments for two days. Looking back at my week, I was out of the house every day. Grandchildren, friends, our wedding anniversary, a concert, and an unexpected funeral were added to the calendar. This is God’s story, His adventure he has planned for my life. I am reminded how Jesus came to His disciples not before the storm, but in the middle of the storm.
I remembered when my physical therapist, helping me walk stronger, encouraging me by saying, “Keep your eyes up. Do not look down at your feet.” I was developing a habit of keeping my eyes down to scout for any tripping hazards or unsteady terrain. But somehow looking down becomes less about steadying me or comforting me and more about deterring my confidence. Looking up seems to magnify my peripheral vision for warnings. Perhaps it is the MS, perhaps it is age, but when I get out of bed in the morning and it is damp and rainy, my body aches with a fury. If I am not feeling strong physically, it seems my disappointments dance to a louder tune in my heart than my joys. I fight, determined, to rise to what I know is truth – God is in control and He is always with me, even if my flesh whines. The Lord’s faithfulness triggers my heart to search for gratefulness in each day, to look up, helping me take my mind off the discomfort and to praise Him.
I lift up my eyes to the hills, from where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord who made Heaven and Earth.
— Psalm 121:1
Today, the sun begins to shine through the windows (I have got to do something about those streaks☺). My discomfort becomes manageable. “Keep your eyes up” rings in my ears as I walk through the house; I remember that He is in control and has a plan and purpose for everything.
Dear Lord, thank you for Your incredible love, faithfulness, and grace. Thank you for helping me take a starting over handicap and turning it into an enjoyable adventure. Please help me to always see the stepping stones rather than the stumbling blocks. Thank you that this day is designed by You, for me and for the people I will encounter today. Please help me to be kind and loving, putting aside thoughts about me, for thoughts about others.
— By Sherry Bitler, Guest Writer
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