Have you ever thought you were doing well, only to find out you weren’t?
Here’s another question… Have you ever tried to improve yourself, only to find that the improvements you thought you were making were actually counterproductive to your end goals?
Have you ever had the best intentions and done everything right to the best of your ability, only to find yourself making one mistake that dominoes into a pile on the floor?
Believe me, I’ve not just been there, I’m here . . . and I’ve got the t-shirt ordered.
So what now? Question myself even more? Wallow in self-pity or succumb to the darkening clouds of doubt and depression?
What do you do (if, of course, you’ve ever experienced something like this)? How do you deal with it?
How do I deal with it? That’s a great question!
There are times when there’s nothing you can do to fix a problem. We humans – especially men – are all about trying to fix problems. Nevertheless, sometimes the problem is too big to fix, at least by us.
These are the times that I mentioned in a sermon just this past week. These are the times I spoke of (generically speaking) when I outlined the times when Satan will take advantage.
These are the precise times of brokenness, weakness, sadness, futility, and resignation that our Enemy, per his usual mode of operation (the “wiles” of the Devil), attempts to make things even worse by turning our eyes away from Christ and onto the waves about to sink our frail boat.
There are times when it is difficult to say, “Hold on through the night.” No, about the only thing one can do at these times is commit to holding on just beyond the moment we think we can’t hold on any longer. These are the times when we HAVE to depend on God’s strength, His mercy, and His grace.
Friend, you may think all is lost. The truth is that it may be. Yes, that’s what I said. Sometimes all WILL be lost. But that doesn’t mean God is done and everything is over.
There was a time in the life of the Apostle Paul when, as a prisoner, he was aboard a ship that was bound for destruction. Even though everything was done to lighten the ship and keep it afloat through days and days of an unrelenting storm, God told Paul to tell those on the ship that yes, it would eventually sink and be a total loss.
Except – and this is a biggie – no lives would be lost. The only catch was that, at the news the ship was going to crash, no one was to abandon ship. Those that abandoned ship would die. Only those who stayed on the ship till it broke up would survive.
In an attempt to escape from the ship, the sailors let the lifeboat down into the sea, pretending they were going to lower some anchors from the bow. Then Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, “Unless these men stay with the ship, you cannot be saved.” So the soldiers cut the ropes that held the lifeboat and let it drift away.Acts 27:30-32 NIV
Crazy, isn’t it?
But that’s what happened. They all stayed on the ship until it ran aground and broke into pieces. The pieces are what they were able to use to float to safety.
But the ship struck a sandbar and ran aground. The bow stuck fast and would not move, and the stern was broken to pieces by the pounding of the surf. The soldiers planned to kill the prisoners to prevent any of them from swimming away and escaping. But the centurion wanted to spare Paul’s life and kept them from carrying out their plan. He ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and get to land. The rest were to get there on planks or on other pieces of the ship. In this way everyone reached land safely.Acts 27:41-44 NIV
I get it! I understand exactly what you are going through! Satan will try to get us to jump ship, throw in the towel, give up the mission, abandon the post, or simply walk away into the dark never to be seen again. I mean, what’s the use, right? If the ship is sinking anyway, why ride it into the rocks?
Listen, as one wreck-in-the-making to another, it may be scary, and it won’t be easy, but keep sailing – stay in the ship for a little longer. . . just a little longer than the moment when you think you can’t go on . . .
Because God may have a plan for the pieces of wreck that an intact ship couldn’t accomplish.