When Life Disappoints

It’s an easy thing to write about trusting God, and share all kinds of happy thoughts, when life is good. But what about when life disappoints? When you’re fairly certain God opened a door, and just as suddenly it swings shut. Maybe even pinching your fingers, or slamming you in the face

That’s when trust requires faith.

For the past several years I have wanted (almost desperately) to study. But always the doors have closed, before they even opened. The advantage to that was that it never hurt too much. No fingers caught, no bruised nose. Eventually, I laid that dream down, intending not to revisit until my children are fully grown.

And then it happened… the door cracked open again, and I stepped in. Yes! This time I actually got in the door. Just the front door, but in the door none-the-less. I signed up to ‘audit’ a class, with the option of completing for credit, on the condition I register for full time next year.

This would have been completely impossible, financially, except for one thing. The Seminary will fore-go (or cover) one third of the tuition cost, if one third of the cost is sponsored, and as long as the student pays one third. On top of that they have payment plans that don’t rip people off, and that’s how they help students follow their dreams in ministry.

That’s a bit more manageable, for someone like me, being in ministry and raising a family. I felt hope rise up. But there was one catch….

They encouraged me to enroll for one class and see what I think. In the meantime they would see what they could do about ‘the catch’ in the plan. The sponsor must be a church, not a person, not a business. I have businesses, and individuals who believe in me enough to sponsor me, from time to time, and I have not exhausted the list of possibilities. I was quite confident I could raise $7000. No problem, I thought. So they said they would see if they could work something out.

I started studies, and immediately fell in love with it. I knew I would. I’ve always loved studying. Even exams. As long as I get to choose the topic. Throw some trigonometry or calculus at me and my tune might change, or I may doze of altogether. But anything to do with English, Science, Religion/Faith, or Politics, and I’m right there.

So when we jumped into studying Second Temple Judaism, and learning about Alexander the great, and how he ruled from 356BC to 333BC…. and how he conquered from Mesopotamia to India with an army of 35000 men… and how those men trusted him with such loyalty that they would line up and march over cliffs to show that allegiance and strike fear in the hearts of kings… and about Josephus… I was so excited. Several years of intense study for a Masters Degree. Yes! Couldn’t wait!

That’s when the door swung shut, suddenly. I learned, that, having looked at their policy, the Seminary cannot accept donations from people willing to sponsor. The donation must come directly from a church, to them. A local congregation has to believe in me enough to put up $7000 for me to have them sponsor a matching amount, and leaving me with the same.  My heart sank.

First off, many churches don’t want to touch a ministry like mine. It’s probably the most awkward ministry that exists, and it disrupts ‘image’. No, the work I do, thrives in the secular world, far more readily, where social justice is fought for, than in ‘the church’, where acknowledging such things is still quite scary for many, if not most. (God bless the churches who dare to go there–I am connected to a small handful.)

(I learned a few hours later that they would also accept multiple churches going together to sponsor that portion. But it has to be churches, and one church would need to be willing to collect the money and send payment.)

I ran the list of churches that I know who are comfortable with this topic. I had a few. They exist. But not many that I know. And to follow all the CRA rules and make it happen ‘above board’ is the next hurdle, with no easy solution.

It’s hard, when life disappoints, and the dreams you could almost taste and feel, wake you up to a new reality. I haven’t given up. Not yet. Not even on the sponsorship thing.

They say, ‘Where there is a will, there is a way.” But I say, “Where it is God’s will, there is a way.”

And since I believed with every ounce of my being that this was God’s will, and that He was opening a door, I can’t let it go ‘just like that’, without another step forward, and another prayer. I will see what creative ideas God sends my way, and give them all I have.

Then, when I have done everything in my power to follow this dream, if the door still swings shut, then I will let it go. But not a moment sooner. Because even when life disappoints there is reason to give our best, to go as far as we can, and not lay down and die.

But always, always, we must choose to trust God, no matter the outcome, if we want to live in the fullness of His blessing.

©TrudyMetzger

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Don’t Let Your Blind-Spots Kill You

I looked to the right, then to the left, and back to the right a second time, then, as I looked, I started to crawl forward. Just as quickly, I slammed on my brakes, my heart rate increasing slightly.

The other driver gave me the look and… oh dear! Was that the birdie? I mumbled an apology out loud, knowing good and well he couldn’t hear me. Still, it seemed appropriate, having nearly caused an accident… again.

My Mazda 3–the cute little car that won my heart with a ‘hug’ when I sat in it for the very first time almost seven years ago–has a blind-spot that has almost cost me more than once. No other vehicle, that I have ever owned or driven, has a blind spot quite as bad.

But blind-spots can be overcome.  I learned as child, when my father crashed our station wagon, the importance of that second look to the right. And that second look is the only thing that has spared me crashing in those situations. Only once, that I recall, have I missed it with that second look, and pulled out only to meet the other vehicle in the middle of the road. From that time on, I started taking a bit more time with that second look, pausing an extra second or two. And that is all it takes.

In life, in ministry, in the ‘day to day’, we have blind-spots too. I have them. And you have them. Those character flaws, personality quirks, and habits that drive people crazy, risk relationships, and wound people around us. And, most of the time, we don’t see it coming until we crash, or almost crash.

Lately, it seems, I come face to face with these realities in my personal life more often than I wish. Events happen that expose my blind-spots. Relationship struggles. Reactions to things people do, things that catch me off guard, and bring to the surface feelings and the temptation to respond in ways that are not healthy.

I might, in fact, most likely I will, push down those reactions, and count to ten… or a thousand, depending on the situation. And I’m glad for that. Self control is not a bad thing. But when it’s over, I am left to look at the black spots on my heart, and see my humanity in all its sinful realities.

And in that ‘assessing’ of things afterwards, I see, too frequently, that I said or did something to create the struggles in the relationship. An oversight. Some neglect. A selfish moment. A thoughtless word, or poorly articulated thoughts, and countless other things I do, but miss, until I ‘crash’, or almost crash.

And when it gets up close and personal, like that, and I discover that it was my blind-spots that created the mess in the first place, I struggle. I struggle because I want to help people, and never hurt them, or make them struggle. I want to be better than that for there sake. But also for my sake. Even for my pride, if I’m honest. And that is probably one reason God lets me be this human.

What I’m learning with my blind-spots, is to acknowledge them, one at a time, and not be overwhelmed by them. To say, “I am human”, but never use that as an excuse. To choose to grow. To take ownership. And, never, never quit.

Blind-spots, they kill you. They kill you in so many ways, if you don’t take that second look, and pause with that extra second, to assess what is happening. They kill you by making you hate yourself, or feel defeated. They kill you by making you retreat into a shell, where you can’t hurt anyone, and no one can hurt you. They kill you by making you hang up your keys, and taking no risks.

Don’t let your blind-spots kill you. That’s exactly what the enemy wants you to do. To give up. To surrender. To believe that God is done with you, and you have no purpose.

canstockphoto5236726

But God has a better plan. When you choose to grow, to learn, and to release the outcome, God will use those blind-spots to teach you. But He won’t stop there. He will teach the other person too.

That ‘near run-in’ may be the very thing that shakes the other person to reality, and makes them pay attention. It might be the thing God uses to teach them, so they don’t go through a greater tragedy in another relationship.

Release the outcomes of your failures, your blind-spots, to God and let Him use you broken and imperfect. His name is Redeemer for a reason. Because we need Him to redeem. Redeem us. Redeem our mistakes. And redeem the impact of our blind-spots on ourselves, and on others.

I’ve made my decision. I will keep going, serving God, and try my best to do it well. When I fail, and I will fail, then I will hold my life in an open hand, including those failures, so God can redeem the outcome.

©TrudyMetzger

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If You Keep Silence… You Will Perish

When all is said and done, by the end of this week, if all goes according to plan and schedule, I will have had my busiest week to date, for meeting with people. The reasons range from relationship coaching, to offering a listening ear to teens who have suffered sexual assaults, attempted murder, and attempted suicides to meeting with middle-aged individuals working through childhood abuse and violence, to cases of extreme spiritual abuse.

I anticipate I will have heard more stories, more pain, and more secrets exposed in one week, than ever before. As it stands, I have heard things already that shocked me. And I am not easily shocked, particularly in the front of spiritual abuse. So much so that, when one woman who called from southern USA and shared her story, I told her that what has been done to her is reminiscent of KKK.

What ‘Christian’ community sends messages to an ‘outcast’ member, involving dead animals with the heart gutted? Repeatedly. And then spreads the lies that the individual is a witch. It is the most shocking, most extreme thing I have heard, to date, coming from a conservative Christian community. And there is more that I won’t share.

A young boy is suicidal because he has been raped. Violated. Demoralized. A young girl has lost hope, and wishes to die because her uncle used her. A mother is in tears because her son’s violent outbursts leave family and friends, cowering in corners. Her son is but a child.

And all of these things happen behind closed doors, in the Christian community. Is it any small wonder that the enemy of our lives, the predator of our souls, wants to keep silence in the church in the areas of abuse and violence? The power this gives him is second to none. Because he can make God look like pure evil in the minds of victims.

When I read the story of Queen Esther, I think of the church of today and how enslaved we have become to the enemy. I hear the questions Mordecai asks her, and imagine God’s desire to free us from the death trap of all the abuse and violence to which we have turned a blind eye. I have no doubt that God is asking many of us, as Mordecai asked Esther, the hard questions found in her story. Questions that come with a warning, that if we choose silence, we and our children will perish. The generations to come will pay a price.

Esther 4:13(b)-14
“Don’t think for a moment that because you’re in the (church) you will escape …. 14 If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief… will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were (born) for just such a time as this?”

Queen Esther takes the challenge and warning to heart, and responds with:
16 “Go and gather together all the Jews of Susa and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will do the same. And then, though it is against the law, I will go in to see the king. If I must die, I must die.”

Oh the difference we could make in the lives of the children who have lost hope, the middle-aged who struggle through the memories, the elderly who tell their secrets for the first time, and the mothers who fear their sons. If only we said, “I was born to take a stand against evil. And if I perish doing so, I perish. My life is not worth more than freedom for my children and grandchildren.”

As I face the third day of this week, I anticipate great things. I expect God to move.  Not because somehow I am ‘all that and more’. I am human. Broken. But I know this, that when I go to the King on behalf of one of these suffering individuals, and He extends His sceptre as a sign of His blessing, their world will change forever. They will know freedom.

The busy-ness does mean I won’t have time to write much. I won’t put out a daily blog this week. But I will embrace the purpose God has set before me, knowing that I was born for such a time as this.

© Trudy Metzger

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