Life is hard, sometimes it all seems to much. Do you remember back when you were a child, how nothing seemed to worry you, how your mum or dad had you covered. Do you remember that time when your parent’s arms were always there to catch you, to lift you up in the air, spin round and round and hug you tightly, that safety, that sense that someone was always looking out for you.
Sometimes it all seems a bit much. It sometimes felt a bit much when we were living in Melbourne, in our nice house in the suburbs, with our two cars, a well paid job and close group of supportive friends.
Now, living here, within the ‘new normal’ of life in Cambodia, ‘a bit much’ takes on a new dimension, a new overwhelming crush that runs in circles in your brain and pushes everything else out. Because everything takes longer it leaves less time to regather yourself, less time to recharge and so when the next bout of hassles occur, you never feel fully recovered from the last.
I had an amazing thought the other day. I was standing in my eldest daughter’s room, holding a toy in one hand, having tidied up her room. I was as dry and tired and spiritually empty as I’ve ever felt, absolutely at the end of my rope, and this is the thought that ran through my mind:
“How do people do this without God?”
Because I absolutely, without doubt, could not. I preached a message a couple of years ago about how the furthest you can fall is into Jesus’ loving embrace. This knowledge gives you the courage to do almost anything. I knew that when I preached it, because I know God, and I know how much he loves me, and I know it now on an entirely new level.
I knew it 6 years ago when I broke my leg in a motorcycle accident. I knew it through the 3 years of treatment it took to fight an aggressive infection. I knew it because I reminded myself, time and time again, that despite what I might think, despite how I might feel, God’s loving plan for me was unfolding exactly as He wanted it to. While my life felt out of control, it was in His control. As I lay in hospital, in Taiwan, where no one could communicate with me, where my family was thousands of kilometers away, God reminded me again and again, through His word, through His people, through my answered prayers, that He loved me, that He cared for me, that He had a much better plan for me than I could even imagine.
There’s a difference between challenges that happen and challenges you volunteer for. When I broke my leg it was not my intention. I faced the consequences because there was no other choice, because I had a broken, infected leg, and I couldn’t walk away from it (excuse the pun). Now, as a missionary, I’m being forced to choose, again and again, to stay, to fight the difficulty, to run back to God, because it is a choice. No one is making me stay in Cambodia. And the stakes are much higher, because it’s not just me. It’s my wife, and her dreams, and my kids and the constant question of whether this is the best thing to do for them.
And if I was here, working for me, or a charity, and not following the call of God, I’m pretty sure I would have run home already, because it’s been hard. And there have been days when it felt like everything was out to get me, like I didn’t have a friend in the world, and I was making the biggest mistake of my life and I was ruining my kids lives and my marriage for nothing. But I’m not here for me. I’m here because God invited me to be here, because a couple of years ago God said “I’m doing something amazing in Battambang, and I want you to be there.”
Sometimes it can take a while to remind myself of that. Sometimes I can get myself deep into a hole of despair and self doubt before I’m reminded that yeah, I’m called here, and although it’s hard, it’s where God wants me to be. But he has never let me fall. He has never pulled His arms away when I fall. Every time I have run back to his embrace, I have felt hoisted into the air, hugged tightly and spun around by the creator of the universe, and the pressure, the doubt, the fear, are all swept away. Suddenly it doesn’t seem too much any more. Suddenly I am ok with the challenges, the conflicts, the unfulfilled expectations and the fact that everything takes so much longer than it should. Not because it’s gone, but because I choose to be aware that where I walk, He walks with me, and that no challenge is bigger than Him.
Have you ever had that feeling when you know God’s got your back or God’s in control ?, please share briefly below, I promise, I will get back to you, and it may inspire me to write another post.
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