I can't believe that this is the last chapter of Never Give Up!, and that eighteen weeks have flown by. Each chapter has brought wonderful teachings and lessons and I am so grateful for each and every one.
In Chapter 18, Like A Sudden Wind, Joyce Meyer encourages us further to keep pressing on toward our goals and in our relationship with God. She reminds us that often what seems like an "overnight" success is usually many years in the making, and involves a great deal of hard work, dedication, faith and hope. With God, there are no "drive through breakthroughs"(p.238), and the rewards come after remaining diligent over the long haul. Joyce relates this to her own life, as she remained faithful and dedicated over several decades while God brought about personal change, growth and faithfulness that eventually led to her leading a worldwide ministry. She talks about how there were years where she felt that she was doing her very best and still not seeing her own progress. She further describes this on page 238, "Most of the time, you are really making progress when you do not think you are moving forward even one inch. God is working in you and moving you along, little by little, in such a way that you may not even notice you are no longer where you were last year. But God notices; and He wants you to keep going, even if you only advance one inch at a time."
It is so easy to envy people who seem to come by their blessings with relative ease or what appears to be a minimal amount of work or faithfulness. The truth is that there is always a much deeper story behind what we see on the surface. Joyce gives us a very detailed description of how these people arrived at their "blessed state": "They have gone through their share of challenges and adversities; they have gone through difficulties; they have been diligent to live by God's word; they have stayed faithful to Him; they have given to others when they had little to give; they have prayed when they do not feel like praying; and they have been patient, loving and kind to people when they did not want to be nice to anyone." (p. 239) This spoke to me very powerfully and pointed me right to Jesus. This is not only the way to behave when we are waiting on a special blessing or promise from God but every day. God wants this to become a part of our nature and he uses these times of trial to work these qualities into us.
Fitting through the Narrow Place: Jesus teaches about taking the narrow gate in Matthew 7: 13-14; "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it." (NIV). Joyce elaborates further on page 241, when she states: "Any time God leads you toward a broader place-a position of greater influence, greater enjoyment in life, or a fulfilled desire-you will have to squeeze through a narrow place." For me, there is a very narrow place that I need to squeeze through in this autism journey. In order for me to fit through the narrow gate that God intends, I have to add new responsibilities, do all that God requires of me and also let go of the things in my life that keep me from God. Joyce elaborates on page 242," When we decide to walk that narrow path, God begins requiring more of us. He starts taking away some of the fleshly baggage. He pulls the padding out of our nest. He asks us to let go of some of our old ways, to adjust some of our attitudes, to raise the standards in our relationships and conversations, and to make some changes in the way we spend our time and money." The first thing that jumped out at me when I read this was all of the extra work involved in preparing special foods, learning new ways to parent and teach, keeping up with numerous teachers, specialists and therapists, not to mention all of the adjustments to our family relationships and budget. However, I still won't be able to fit through that narrow gate if I don't also let go of the tendencies that are negative and learn to be disciplined. Learning not to complain, letting go of envy and being loving when people are unkind or ignorant are just as important and will help me to remain in a blessed state by making me more like God. God has also dealt with me in this area by challenging me to remain positive in spite of what is in front of me or when others don't share my optimism. God wants us to be consistent in our faith in Him. I was praying about this one day and it was literally as though God spoke on my heart, "Don't bless me in your prayers and cancel me with your words".
Time for Payday!: Joyce reminds us that God's promises are true and that we can count on our reward from Him if we never give up. This was a good reminder for me that as I'm making the conscious effort to be positive, loving and faithful, God is there taking care of the details and defending me in the battle. It is freeing to know that God is our vindicator and it is not up to us to "set people straight"-however tempting it may be. Joyce puts this well on pate 244; "If someone comes against us, if someone hurts us, if someone rejects us, if someone wounds us, we need to keep serving God and doing right, and he will make sure we get what we deserve in the end." Another comforting point to me was the reminder that He will be the one that restores what has been lost. When I get tempted to dwell on what was lost, what I wish I would have known or just need a reminder that God will be my vindicator, I can lean on Joel 2: 25-26 (NIV):
"I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten— the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm — my great army that I sent among you.
You will have plenty to eat, until you are full,
and you will praise the name of the LORD your God,
who has worked wonders for you;
never again will my people be shamed."
As we all continue on our way through this autism journey there will be times of hard work, waiting, trial and temptation to give up. If we refuse to give in to our fears and hold on to our hope and faith, we will reap a great reward. This study has helped me to hold on during some very difficult trials and also helped me to remain encouraged and positive when I didn't feel like it. I am so grateful to Nicole and Chrissy for their work on this site, feedback, posts and encouragement. Each week touched me so very much. Thank you so much to everyone who reads, comments and prays for this blog. I pray that you are all blessed and encouraged in your daily lives and triumph over all of your challenges. We will be posting shortly about our next study!
Thank you so much for this wonderful book by Joyce Meyer and for all of the incredible mothers who read this blog. May all of the scripture, teachings and examples that You have led us to take root deep within us. Let these truths that You have given us come to mind in the situations where we need to live them most fully. Keep us strong in faith and hope, always confident in Your love and perfect plan for our lives. Though we each have goals and dreams in our hearts, we know that You are the giver of every blessing and reward we seek after. We ask this in Your most holy name. Amen.