April 5, 2012

Staying on the Anvil When Everything in You Wants to Get Off

 

I hated the movie, The Pursuit of Happyness.  Absolutely hated it.  And from what I remember, I hated Tom Cruise’s old movie, Far and Away.  I also hated Max Lucado’s old book, On the Anvil.  It wasn’t that the actors weren’t good, or the storyline didn’t make sense.  It was because they were centered on the reality of struggle –  and I hate struggle.

It was probably a year or so ago now that Steph and I were sitting on the front porch, enjoying some rocking chair time while taking in the sounds of living in the country. The conversation got past the point of the day-to-day issues we all walk through as families, and somehow went much deeper. What came out of my mouth surprised me, and I’m sure surprised Steph as well. ”I wonder if I’ll look back on this time in my life and realize that I was depressed.” We both sat and let the words sink in.

I was struggling.  Struggling with self-confidence, with self-worth, with fear and with personal inadequacy. I felt like I should know the answers, but they seemed to keep eluding me. Worst of all, when I needed God the most, he seemed quieter than ever.

Every Christ follower goes through moments seasons like this.

Over the past months, I’ve written about what to do when you’re stuck, I’ve addressed how to make a decision when the answer is unclear, challenged some when I asked does your soul have a backbone, talked about questions to ask to help you find your next job, and announced that I was leaving mine. It’s quite obvious that God has me in a time of transition.

I can’t think of something Christ followers despise worse than the unknown. It’s probably because the unknown brings with it a lack of control. And God knows that I really don’t like being out of control.

We all want the christian success stories. We want kids that “turn out” perfect. We want to be debt-free. We want to have amazing stories of how God used us for the miraculous.  We hear other people share those stories, and our hearts hunger for the same reality. But instead, sometimes we find ourselves stuck somewhere in between what has been – and what could be.

That in-between time is what is known as a transition. Transitions occur in the lives of business people, ministry leaders, moms, students, the churched and the un-churched. For Christ-followers, these times of transition aren’t just about a job change or a change in where you live. God does some of his most important formational work in the hearts of leaders during such times.

In his book, Stuck! Navigating the Transitions of Life and Leadership, Terry Walling lays out some great points about what God does during times of transition:

  • Transitions break Christ followers free.
  • Transitions move a Christ follower from somewhere to somewhere else.
  • Transitions surface greater clarity in God’s call on a Christ-follower’s life.
  • Transitions clarify a Christ follower’s unique role.
  • Transitions call for focus and greater intentionality.
  • Transitions are catalysts in a Christ follower’s life purpose.
  • Transitions produce greater self-definition, and discovery of how to influence others to live out God’s purposes.

He goes on further to say…
Going through transitions is about God having the right to be God. Transitions forge new trust. Without transitions, we would slide into a malaise of the same, and stop growing. So God allows the difficult, the confusing, and even the hurtful to enter a life – not because of His lack of caring, but to take us deeper into our pursuit of Him.” (pg. 10)

So for those of you that are going through a time like this, let me encourage you.  Don’t crawl off the anvil.  I’m not going to.  Don’t rush God’s process to fit your timing.  Wait.  Be still.  I think we’ll both eventually be glad we did.

Do you relate?

Originally Published: April 5, 2012
Category: Christian Living
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