It was a seemingly routine hit – one that would have gone unnoticed except that it sent Colt McCoy to the sidelines, his throwing arm hanging limply at his side. With the national championship on the line, we held our breath. We had faithfully watched Colt lead the Longhorn football team to victory all season long. We marveled at his steadfast leadership and took joy in his regular stand for Christ. Watching a team of this caliber was fun. Knowing the team was led by a quarterback who put his trust in the Lord, made it all the more exciting. “Colt couldn’t be injured”, we reasoned, “that just did not happen”.
But it did, suddenly, and in an oddly non- dramatic fashion. Colt may never understand how or why, but his words in the post game interview resonate as a powerful message with lasting impact for all of us. “ I stand on the rock”, he explained, refusing to question the sovereignty of God in undoubtedly his most devastating moment in football, a game he had dedicated his life to. To lead the team to a National Championship title had been his dream for years. The game started out with intensity, the Longhorns on track to win. It took a second to change the direction.
Life isn’t easy! Disappointment can invade a person’s heart and soul quickly and forcefully by unexpected events and circumstances. Experiences such as loss of job or a dream, the death of a love one, or marital unfaithfulness, can quickly bring on despair. Even day to day life, with its constant grind and unexpected obstacles, can grow despair. This weekend’s events at our home illustrate this very clearly.
Admittedly, contentment in life tends to be conditional for me. A land purchase and development project is proving to be the means by which God is slowly changing me however. Glen and I currently live in what we envisioned would become our future guest house. Instead, due to unforeseen large expenses in building and developing the land, moving out of the guest house and living in our “dream” home has been postponed indefinitely. I fight feeling disheartened; the guest house is far from what we dreamed of for this stage of life; space to entertain and feed large groups; bedrooms for grandchildren to spent the night and play in, quiet corners to curl up in and read a book. But in our tiny living space, we have no quiet corners – little room to entertain – or places for kids to play.
It’s Sunday, my favorite day of the week, yet despair threatens to invade my heart. We woke up yesterday to no hot water. (Our hot water system shuts down each time the temperature dips below freezing, a frequent occurrence this winter in Austin.) With plans to be gone all day, we returned late yesterday to water gushing everywhere (two outdoor faucets had broken) seeping into the garage, where our oldest daughter and her husband are temporarily storing newly purchased furniture. After shutting off the water supply entirely, and moving boxes of furniture to dry ground, we went to bed, without a shower and without a means to even flush toilets or wash hands.
Last night, I dreamed despairingly. I was at a far away convention held in a very large hotel, and my grandchildren were with me. People were everywhere and Kate, my two year old granddaughter, had disappeared into the crowd. Desperate to find her, I ran into an old
Despair can all too often form the basis of life itself, unless we grasp the truth of what joy really is. Satan used this weekend’s disappointments to lure me into despair and then held me in his grip throughout the night. I had a decision to make this morning: to remain there or to choose a noble way. I knew what needed to happen but the choice was mine to make. I have lived with this false idea that contentment and joy results from good things happening when in actuality, only happiness results from happenings. True joy is different and it has little to do with a person’s life or circumstances. Joy is the result of comprehending what we were created for…to quote Oswald Chambers, a “walking, talking, living, practical, epistle of what God Almighty can do” in us through Jesus .
To be upright in our actions, when things go well, is easy. To be content, when things go as we desire, requires no virtuous character. However, the true measure of our character is how we respond to adversity and disappointments. In this latest setback, in a series of disappointments regarding our living space, my flesh pulled fiercely to keep me in the pit of feeling sorry for myself while the Holy Spirit gently reminded me to stand up and once again plant my feet upon the rock where true joy could be mine regardless of circumstances.
Noteworthy is the recent research as to why kids, raised in Christian homes, tend to leave the Christian faith when they leave the nest. A major reason, cited over and over by these kids, is that they did not see the Christian faith make a difference in the hearts and lives of their parents. They watched their moms and dads walk out life much like the culture they claimed to stand against. When difficult circumstances came along, they would crumble. When people disappointed them, they would complain. Instead of holding steadfastly to the “joy of the Lord” and modeling a life of prayer and trust, they would become angry, cast blame, and take matters into their own hands. These kids rightfully reason that if lasting joy cannot be found in Christianity, then it must be false, and why give up the happiness and thrills of living in the ways of the culture for something that makes no difference?
Kids today need to see us respond like Colt – standing on the true rock, regardless of what life throws at us. I am thankful for his example. I desire to stand and remain on the rock, where the storms of life may threaten but not prevail. I don’t want to fall off anymore. What am I modeling for my family if I constantly need to be rescued from the storms?
What adversities in life tend to get you down? How are you learning to respond victoriously to these difficulties in your life?
Favorite Quotes from Oswald Chambers:
If I recognize Jesus as my Lord, I have no business with where He engineers my circumstances. If He gives me the pictorial thrill of enabling me to do something ostensibly wonderful, and then suddenly alters my circumstances and puts me, so to speak, at the bottom of the ocean, what right have I to be afraid? If Jesus Christ can keep me walking on the top of the waves, He can keep me beneath them. (The Quotable Oswald Chambers, pg. 43)
The fiery furnaces are there by God’s direct permission. It is misleading to imagine that we are developed in spite of our circumstances; we are developed because of them. It is mastery in circumstances that is needed, not mastery over them. (The Quotable Oswald Chambers, pg. 43)
John 15: 11 – These things have I spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. (ESV)
James 1:2-5 – Count it all joy my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (ESV)