by Anne Kemp
I love Roller Coasters. I love the speed and the unexpected twists and turns. I think I love them so much because I love being surprised. However, since I tend to over-think everything, I am pretty hard to surprise. So, for me, getting on a roller coaster is three minutes of constant surprises - and I love it.
Unexpected twists and turns in my life is another story. I don't enjoy those surprises near as much. They are usually not so fun and don't often evoke screams of joy and laughter. I hope one day that changes and I can look with excitement on the trials knowing what they produce in me. I'm not there yet.
My journey over these last four years of this new season of life has been anything but peaceful, easy or consistent. It has been heart-wrenching, unstable, full of unexpected heartache and challenge, but it has also been full of growth, joy, incredible friendships and a deeper revelation of who God is in my life.
My friend Christina Roberts, who does life in South Sudan, put it beautifully "Over the past two years with the wild roller coaster of continual change and challenges, God has been reminding me that He is constant. Nothing has surprised Him and nothing will surprise Him."
God is not surprised by my roller coaster. He is not surprised by yours either. He knew the ups and downs and the twists and turns we would face. We are guaranteed to have trials (John 16:33).
Either God is sufficient or He is not (2 Cor. 12:9; Psalm 46). Either God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow or He is not (Hebrews 13:8). Either God is sovereign or He is not (Psalm 115:3; Romans 8:28). Either God is for me or He is not (Romans 8:31; Psalm 56:9). Our challenge is to live our belief that He is all those things - not just give it mental assent.
I am not negating the pain, suffering and heartache that goes along with the ups and the downs of life - broken marriages, broken lives, the pain that others have inflicted on us, as well as the pain that we have caused in others.
However, my question here to you is, what do you do with the uncertainty of life? What do you do when things feel hopeless and overwhelming? Do you cling to Jesus with all your remaining strength? Do you remember who He is and who you are in Him?
While I would not wish divorce on anyone, it has caused me to cling to Jesus like a life raft. I had nothing and no one else. When you come to that place of absolute acknowledgement that I CANNOT DO THIS - then there is a level of faith that goes beyond your head and even beyond your heart to the bedrock of your soul.
There comes a point, when your soul knows beyond a doubt that He is trustworthy. That "though He slay me, I will trust Him" (Job 13:15). There comes a place when you know that you know that He is faithful. Whatever it takes to get there for you, it is worth it.
The last four years have been a series of major upheavals. Even now, when I thought things were settling down a bit, I find I am going through a new season of great unrest in my life. There are some painful things I am walking through with a sibling, helping my mom work through her "graduation plan" and knowing that day is coming. I have children that are battling with life issues for which I have no answers. I have a business that is in a huge state of flux as I try to support myself, my children and keep my business relevant in an ever changing technology environment.
I confess I have woken up in tears from the stress and the overwhelming sense of depression, the fear of failure and the uncertainty. I have tried so hard to fix it, to control it and to hold on way too tightly to the outcome.
Then, today, I found myself remembering that the outcome isn't as important as the journey and just WHO it is I am journeying with. I had to realize where that stress and tension comes from - it comes because I have taken my eyes off of Jesus as my protector, provider and sustainer, and put them squarely back on the person I see in the mirror.
Each of those things I just listed are hard - but they are not a surprise to my God. They are not too big for my God. They ARE too big for me. I don't want to wallow in being overwhelmed - it paralyzes me. I don't want to drown in the mire of situations over which I have no control - it takes me away from what God wants for me. Most of all, I don't want to lose sight of who my DAD really is. He is the God of the universe. He is the beginning and the end. He was here at the foundation of the world. His ways are not my ways. He is sovereign. He is for me. He is the my provider, protector, healer and HE IS ENOUGH.
Maybe I'll end up losing my business or something else, but that is not the end of my world. I will go on. I must believe that if God allows that to happen, then there is something else better He has for me. I have to hold my family, my children and my business with opens hands - because they really aren't mine.
When the emotions overtake me, these verses keep me focused on the truth: "The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord" (Job 1:21). "Be thankful in all circumstances. (1 Thess. 5:18). I want to bless His name no matter what is happening. I have learned to be thankful through my tears and that helps erase my fears. That changes everything. It changes me.
If He chooses to change things or people, I need to rest in that. If He chooses NOT to change things or people, I need to rest in that too. I cannot control the situations in the world. I cannot control the choices others make. I can control how I respond. And if it pushes me into the arms of my Father, then I say "bring it on" because THAT is where I want to be as I ride this roller coaster of life straight into heaven and into the arms of the One who is never surprised and always faithful.