The animal was straining against the tether, tilting its head to the side, large dark eyes wide with the effort, but it did no good. He was at the end of his rope. The field was vast, the long grass beneath his hooves prime for feeding and yet it wasn’t enough. All he could see was the fodder beyond, the other animals in the distance, and he wanted to just, go.
I can relate.
Over the course of my youth, I prayed that God would use me in His service. He blessed me greatly with a position as a teacher where I could share my heart for God, a place where I sincerely felt that I was doing some good. But it led me to dangerous expectations that because I was being so sacrificial in pouring my life out that I was then due for some good things to come my way.
It was an ignorant and misguided belief-a religion that I made up for myself.
The families that surrounded my upbringing lived lives of blessing and security. Fathers worked hard, provided large homes with pools, mothers stayed home to raise kids, a tight-knit church body with many comforts. They were Godly people and the Lord blessed them. I assumed that was my future and I felt entitled to it. God owed me.
You can imagine my dismay when all around me, my friends married young, had children, and carried on while I approached the age of thirty-several heartaches in my wake. Finally, it was my turn and I married my generous husband at age 29. God gave me a glimpse at His unconditional love with the birth of my oldest son that first year of our marriage and followed that up with 2 more beautiful boys who have easily placed themselves into every nook and cranny of my heart.
And then the valley descent really began.
We worked hard to budget and squirrel away money for a down payment on a house. I longed for the security of a white picket fence and all the wonderful hospitality and memories that would grace the halls of our home. But that wasn’t God’s plan.
The next 4 and a half years would be punctuated with several job losses, trial after trial, and hardship after hardship. That long-saved for down payment would quickly evaporate in an effort to provide basics-diapers, food, electricity. It was a time of faith in dark corridors and yet we experienced miracles of provision. After several years of patchy unemployment and monumental moves from one town to another, I thought we were done with the valley.
Our path felt like a marathon and so surely, I assumed, there would be a mountain top view nearby. After all, we had been enduring poverty, friendlessness, loneliness, isolation, humiliation and persecution, lack of justice, sickness and disillusionment. We couldn’t possibly endure more, right?
Friend, I write to you now as a homeless person.
My dear husband garnered incredible success in his jobs that he had in between our losses and every time the Lord removed him for our refinement and for reasons we may never know about this side of heaven. Guy is a man of rare integrity, creativity, resourcefulness, and talent. His tireless commitment to work hard day in and day out despite the lack of our material needs, to get up and keep going, to never give up trusting in God has been a thing of beauty to behold. I’m proud of him!!!! I don’t blame him for where we are now. God has made it exceedingly clear to us that this was His Sovereign choice and path for us. Period.
It’s now been more than a year of a third round of unemployment without a steady salary. Our family members have taken us in to live with them. We hoped it would be for a month or two but the time is creeping by from month to new month. I remember thinking that God would not allow us to be homeless. I had some deeply fearful and anxious moments as I worried so over my children and what would become of us. And to be honest, I descended into a deep pit of anger and grief when I sat in my house and packed my boxes one by one, all alone. I tried to smile when strangers entered my house and bought the curtains literally off my living room walls and while they happily left through my front door with our rugs, dining set, beds, couches, tables, and toys so that we could buy groceries. I wept, “WHY Lord would you allow this to happen to your children…again… when we are trusting in You to provide?!”
By God’s grace, He let me rage for a time and then He took my hands in His and He reminded me that He is God and I am not. He does not owe me a blessed thing. He showed me my pride and reminded me of my prayers that He would use me to grow His kingdom for His glory, no matter what. I needed a deep refining process to get there.
At the end of my rope was the freedom of a heart made whole.
I could no longer be distracted by my home or my relationships. It wasn’t the way I wanted to live my married life or the environment that I wanted to raise my children in, but it was the way that God used to show me that no thing, no person, no place, no circumstance in this life can satisfy. It’s Christ alone.
The whole time I was holding on to my tether and sliding to the end, I was afraid of what would happen. Now that I am here, it surely is not pleasant, that is true. It’s a place of suffering. But the benefit of having very little in this life, and to have lost most of your belongings is that you gain a deep security in Christ. He’s all we’ve got. And He is more than enough! What’s more, we are terribly excited about our future. We have started a faith-based and family-friendly production business that we know God desires us to pursue. My husband is now fulfilling his calling by doing the kind of work that makes his heart sing and also glorifies God. It’s what he would have chosen to do, if given the choice. God is so good to set it right before us! We have nothing to lose, so we are going for it! To be given the chance to chase hard after God’s purpose for us as an entire family, to be wholly united on that front, and to make an eternal difference is an amazing joy ride! We are blessedly unencumbered! And certainly-when any “success” comes our way, we can be sure it was because of Him and not ourselves! And wouldn’t you know it, now that we just don’t care about “the stuff” anymore, the doors of God’s Storehouse are beginning to crack open.
If you find yourself today in fear of what may happen if you don’t get your way, release it to the keeper of your soul.
He does have a good plan for your life! I truly wouldn’t exchange my deep abiding faith for any mansion. God has not been cruel to us. He has been committed to us all along. He gave us His best gift first, in the death of His precious Son. Talk about sacrifice-I will never know the depth of that kind of suffering! I’m praising Jesus for Himself, full of gratitude that in His holiness, He chose a wretch like me. Like Paul, we have learned to be content with much or with little, because the Lord never changes and a steadfast trust in Him is worth it!
I don’t ever again want to think that being at the end of my rope is an unsafe place to be, nor do I want to strain against it as if the tether was keeping me from something better. As believers, we have a glorious destiny of greatness to look forward to. But I am so grateful that I have learned to have joy in the season of now. Hosea 11:4 says, “I led them with bands of human kindness, with cords of love. I treated them like those who lift infants to their cheeks; I bent down to them and fed them.” Those cords are, indeed, cords of love. Look beyond your trials today and know that if everything else in your life were to fade away, you would still have reason to rejoice. God is good and He is worthy of our devotion, no matter what.
“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. 2 Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare.
YOUR TURN! Are you at the end of your rope? What is God whispering to your heart in this particular season of life?