Sunday, October 13, 2013

Rejoicing in the Roadblocks

I can't help but note these days that there is a common thread running through my life and those of many of my good friends, with our conversations peppered with dialogue like this...

"Everything was really happening, I thought it was taking off, and then..."

"I've been working so hard, trying so hard to get things off the ground, but there's just one problem..."

"I'm doing everything I know how to do, and nothing seems to be working!"

If you haven't ever felt this way before, know that a time will inevitably come when you find yourself desperately trying to get things done, waiting anxiously and expectantly, running and pursuing and fighting, but then...boom! Roadblock. And when that happens, you can end up feeling exhausted and hurt and discouraged, tired of spinning your wheels and unsure of whether to keep pressing on or give up forever.

What makes it more frustrating is when our pursuits are not ungodly ones - when we have ministry passions and dreams, hopes for family planning, desires for fulfilling relationships and ambitions for successful careers. When we are daughters of God Most High and we find ourselves not feeling successful in our endeavors, especially ones that, in our minds, would honor the Lord, what are we to do? How in the world can we find joy and peace and persevere in the midst of things not going according to plan?

• Don't Buy in to the 'Grass is Greener' Mentality

I know when there's something I particularly want that God has me waiting for or has even said no to, suddenly everyone around me seems to be having it and talking about it. The truth is, that is not really the case, it's just that our senses are just heightened to it. Often we deal with our frustration by looking outward and comparing our lives with others, and because we are upset, we often make irrational and incorrect assumptions. Someone may indeed have what it is you want, but trust me, they have their own unique set of frustrations and setbacks. The grass is not greener on the other side. That's not where the answer lies.

• Beware of the Inward Insanity Cycle

Another of my favorite coping mechanisms is introspective rumination. I go over and over things that I have done, should have done, wish I had the guts to do, and play out the scenarios in my head until I have worked myself into a complete froth. This is far from healthy. At some point, we've got to know that we're doing all we can do, trust God and let it go! Getting too focused on ourselves isn't the answer either.

• Don't Take Your Ball and Go Home

Not long ago I had a conversation with a well-known author who was advising me about writing a book. He said something that has stayed with me since our meeting: "It's not the writers who want to write that make it  - it's the writers who have to." If God has given you a vision, a desire, a call or a standard, then you have to pursue it. Imagine if Abraham had given up waiting for a child or Moses had given up reaching the promised land. Remind yourself -daily, even hourly if necessary - that when it comes to things God promises us and calls us to, quitting is not an option. To be fair, I must tell you that you may not end up at the destination you had envisioned. The Scriptures tell us if we delight ourselves in Him, He will give us the desires of our hearts - but it may not look like our limited human idea of the picture-perfect happy ending. God knows what's best for us, and He has a way of steering us to the perfect place, and the vehicle that drives us there are those desires, those callings, those dreams. So if you want to receive it, you must press on, you must stay in the game.

• Start with Anger, End with Shame

When all else fails, when we've blamed ourselves and still feel bad, when we've blamed everyone else and still find no rest, then it is easy to get angry with God. Be so careful Beloved. There is nothing wrong with being honest with God that you are upset or angry - but too often I've seen great walks falter when that feeling of powerlessness led them to anger and disrespect toward the Maker. At the root of anger is really just sadness and hurt - the 'mad' is just a defense mechanism. Don't choose that way to cope, friends. If you're broken and sad, then be that, share that with Him in honesty. He knows how you feel anyway. But shut Him out, shake your first at Him, and that can only lead to the additional pain of humbling and discipline that will follow.

There is always another way of looking at things.

Like roadblocks in general, for instance. What are they anyway? When we encounter them in our cars, we can readily accept that even if inconvenient, they are there to protect us. As I write this my head swells with the image of a YouTube video I recently watched that showed water washing a concrete road completely away in Colorado. Imagine if we as drivers disregarded the warning signs and blockades and drove right into a situation like that? Suddenly there's no more road to follow and we're in a situation that is detrimental to our vehicle, dangerous to us and those around us, and even potentially deadly.

Beloved, what if instead of clamoring to our coping mechanisms and saying "Why, God, why?" we had the faith and trust in our amazing Savior to know that if He puts a roadblock up in our lives, it's for a really good reason? Do we trust Him enough to know for sure that He wants us to experience joy, that He wants to bless us as His kids, and that He knows the best path to get there?

 Meet Griffin

I'm not sure if you've seen the film Men in Black 3, but my husband and I just watched it for the first time a few weeks ago. There is a character that I thought of when writing this and it gave me a giggle, so I thought I'd share. Above is a picture of the actor who portrays an alien in the movie, named Griffin, who has the unique ability to calculate every possible outcome for every action in every dimension of the universe. He drives the main characters crazy with his antics and goings on about which reality he's in and how the most minute shift in behavior can cause serious changes in the world later on. Griffin falls short of God's character in a lot of ways, but in one sense he does exhibit similar behavior - for because of Griffin's insight and assistance, the lives of many are saved. God is seeking to save you from the hurt and frustration and danger of the wrong path for your life if He is blocking you. Be comforted, friends - it's not a punishment, but an act of mercy instead.

I'm going to submit to you that we should be rejoicing in the roadblocks, for they are the Lord's sweet provision and protection in our lives. What an honor, God cares enough about little old you and me that He wants to intervene, to direct our paths. The almighty, powerful creator of the entire universe delights in every detail of our lives! When you look at it like that, it doesn't seem so bad, does it?

So how do we combat our instinctive, defensive thinking? Here are a few suggestions:

• Count - and Recount - Your Blessings

Following the sweet day that my Savior finally won my heart forever, events that were nothing short of miraculous took place in my life - trust me, I needed (and still do!) a LOT of intervention. He met me right where I was to draw me to Himself and gave me the most beautiful story. I've learned the importance of documenting that story, because in times of crisis, when my faith fails me, and I begin to doubt God's ability to know what's best, I go back to my story. I remember that we have history together, that He is very intentionally steering my ship, and He has never let me down. And that helps me hold on, to again release my grip and restore my trust in my long-time, ever-faithful Captain and King. Beloved, I hope that if you are walking with the Lord, that you have begun documenting the journey. If not, why not begin today?

• Celebrate Vicariously

A few weeks ago my Bible study class at church was studying John 4, which recounts Jesus' encounter with the woman at the well. I love the end of the story, and I envy their community in a way... because while we in modern times tend to compare our lives with others in an envious way, the Samaritan community celebrated the woman's story, through it the faith of many was ignited and bolstered. What if, instead of looking upon someone experiencing victory in the Lord with jealousy, we allowed it to encourage us? To remind us that God is working, He is answering prayers, He is alive. Rejoice in the victories of others, remembering that this God is your God too! The more you encourage a sharing within your circles, the more you will see Him moving, and ultimately you will believe that He is, He can and He will do for you too.

• Walk the Perimeter of Your Land

In Abram's day, to walk the perimeter of a land was the equivalent of signing the transfer of land ownership documents. So in Genesis 17 when God has him walk around the entire promised land, God was legally and officially handing it over to him and his descendants. While it would be hundreds of years before those descendants, the tribes of Israel, would cross over and begin to inhabit that land, it was in that moment that they began to own it. And soon after that occurred, Abram's name was even changed to Abraham, reflecting that new role and call. If God has given you a promise, a call, or a passion, walk the perimeter and begin to own it! If you want to be a wife, study up on what God says a good one should be and pursue those qualities now. If you want a ministry, begin ministering with those who God brings to you each day. Don't sit back and wait for the circumstances to present themselves. Instead, become, right where you are now, who God is calling you to be.

• Read, Remember, Refocus

While re-channeling that negative self-talk and combating envy are great things, this final suggestion's value far outweighs the others mentioned above. For there is nothing so powerful as the Word of God to restore our perspective, to heal, to allow the Holy Spirit to communicate with our hearts. When you are hitting a roadblock, there are countless testimonies of other men and women in Scripture who came before us, whose stories can provide great comfort. For instance, think of Balaam, who was on the wrong path, whose "willful" donkey served as a way of protecting him from sinning against God and death. Remind yourself of the moment when Israel found itself between an army and a sea, and God performed a miracle in order that they made a way to safety just in the nick of time. Know that Elisha's and Daniel's visions of the vast angel army fighting spiritual battles is still active and working with you even now. God is revealing to you in His word just how capable He is. The more time we spend familiarizing ourselves with its contents, the more assured we will be of His motives and attributes, His great might and His perfect timing.

Final Thought

Be encouraged, Beloved. You are not wasting your time, and you are not alone. Whatever it is you are waiting for, don't give up! God is simply working out His perfect plan in your life. As I close, I leave you with this final verse:

He has made everything beautiful in its time.
Ecclesiastes 3:11

So rejoice in the roadblocks! Hold on to that promise, my sweet friends; hold on to Him. I pray blessings over your journey and I hope this brings you comfort as you are stretched, as you prepare, as you wait, as you grow and finally, as you become all that He has designed you and destined you to be.



  1. Ecc. 3:11 was the verse I held onto while getting ready to move our family up to NJ. And thank you for the reminder, because I still need to revisit that lesson. You're a great teacher and writer. - Hong

  2. Hong, thank you so much; you have no idea what a blessing your sweet encouragement is. I'm so grateful the Lord allows me to write and teach, and even more thrilled He is using my offering to bless others. I'll be praying for you and your family.


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