Stretched To The Breaking Point

Ever watch someone make saltwater taffy?  They stretch it and twist it and stretch it some more.  Almost to its breaking point, but not quite.  Just shy of snapping under the pressure, they wind it up to relieve the tension and spin it in another direction to pull, stretch, and twist some more.

As of late, I feel like that taffy.  Stretched to the breaking point, but not quite snapped, yet.

If we examine our lives, many of us probably feel that pull from demands on our time.  It’s the nature of our world—multi-tasking.  If you can’t do multiple things at once, then what good are you?

For this reason, one of the hardest Bible verses for us to obey may, also, be the most simple and straightforward:

Be still, and know that I am God.  Psalms 46:10

The concept sounds great.  Stop everything and be still.  Listen to God.  Rest.

Remember when you were a kid and summer meant lazy days, playing with your friends?  Then one day, we grew up and the strain of adult responsibilities began.  We juggled family, friends, jobs, households, hobbies, the internet, you name it.

My juggling act should be famous.  I balance so many balls in the air.  If I pause…Be still…all will come tumbling down, right?

When my mother fell, one huge ball took the place of many, balls I couldn’t afford to keep in the air, anymore.  The huge ball took more time and energy to keep airborne.  It knocked into the other balls, throwing my rhythm off-sync. I worked harder and harder to keep at least a few of my smaller balls in the mix, but most of my energy focused on the large ball.  My arms, neck, and back began to ache.  I couldn’t keep this up forever, but I saw no end. My mother needed me, and I was going to be there.

Five months into this out-of-balance juggling act, I faced a dilemma.  Do I take a week’s vacation away from it all?  Work already pulled me away more than I liked, and many issues came to a head this summer, but the opportunity was there.  The place already reserved.  Was it right, fair, to take it?

Maybe if I went, I could pick up some of the balls—husband, family, writing—that suffered in my frenzy to keep that one huge ball flying no matter what.  I wanted to go.  Who wouldn’t want a break?  But I didn’t want to desert my mom or my sister, who labors as hard as I do to keep her balls soaring.

Guilt attacked my conscience.

Be still and know that I am God,” whispered in my ear.  If you don’t go, you can’t be here for her later.  You will drop the balls, all of them, someday.  The stress is too much.  The taffy will snap in two. Go.  Be Still.  Know I am God.

So, this week, I listened to the urging of the Spirit.  I’m five days into my “be still.”  I’m reconnecting with the other parts of my life and my God.  Nature surrounds me, and I’m resting…a lot.  I’m still tired.  It’s difficult.  It’s great.  I’m coping.  God has everything under control.  In this I know, and I must be still and trust.

When was the last time you stopped, rejuvenated, renewed and let God handle it all?  Maybe it’s time to do it.

Belief or Unbelief, That is the Question

The man sought out Jesus to ask for his son’s healing, and in Mark 9:22, he says to Christ, “But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”

With patience, Jesus zeroed in on the man’s doubt reminding him that everything is possible for those who believe. The man’s response to Jesus?

Immediately, the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”  Mark 9:24

This concept frustrated me every time I read it.  Christ accepted the man’s response and healed his son, but why? It made no sense.  How can someone believe, and in the next breath, ask for help for his unbelief?  Either you believe or you don’t, right?

Several weeks ago, I wrote about my mother’s accident and slow recovery in  The Weight of A Mountain.  In that post, I explored the faith that can move mountains.  In the middle of a very difficult night full of prayer and begging, I had found the faith to believe in the Lord’s ability to heal my mother miraculously, and  I began to walk through my days with a positive outlook and a firm, strong belief that He would heal her.

Then, Mom experienced a really bad day.  A day where she didn’t know me…or anyone else.  A day where she didn’t speak at all and her eyes revealed a distance I couldn’t accept.  Over the next week, all of her progress evaporated before my watchful attendance.  I wanted to believe in the healing power of God, and I did believe in His ability to heal her, but in the face of my mother’s decline, doubt plagued me.  I believed, but the faith that gave me strength and comfort fell weak in the face of the reality before my eyes.

Whoa!  I believed, but I didn’t believe!  I knew God could heal Mom and asked Him to heal her, fully convinced in His ability to do so, but I’m human and I succumbed to doubt.  Will He heal her?  What happened to her progress? Questions led me down a dark path, a path that began to doubt.

It’s all so simple to me now, but until I faced an actual belief/unbelief dilemma, I just couldn’t grasp it.

Mom’s progress has improved, but she’s still not made the recovery I’ve hoped and prayed for.  This fact doesn’t stop me from praying for miraculous healing.  I believe. And I accept that some days, I need the Holy Spirit’s help to overcome the doubt of my unbelief.

How is your belief challenged?  How do you cope with it?