I watched as he made his way forward from the back of the church. Slowly, he gripped a walker with one hand and held a piece of paper containing song lyrics in the other.
With physical assistance from the pastor he began to sing. He had no accompaniment and no instruments; but his desire was as deep as the sea. As words began to flow from his heart, tears filled my eyes.
Moved by his witness I began to ponder my own life.
How many times had I let troublesome days cause me to turn inward and tune out God?
As I continued to listen it was evident this man knew the joy of the Lord was his strength. He could have easily let inconvenience keep him in his seat, but he didn’t.
Each day he experiences physical limitations, but he refuses to stay in his seat or inside an invisible box of defeat. His immune system has attacked a portion of the cells in his brain causing a slow connection between his brain and legs. Walking requires significant focus, whereas, he must consciously tell himself to pick up each foot and place it back down.
But, he’s not letting this trial stop him. He continues to seek God regardless of the cost or inconvenience. A bad day doesn’t hold him back. So the last time he was called on to sing, I watched and waited for him to come forward with his walker. But he didn’t.
I scanned the congregation. Where could he be? Then, I heard him. From his seat in the middle of the church, he began to speak. People were seated all around him, but that didn’t change his desire. He may not have been able to walk forward, but he could still sing and he did. I marveled that he broke out of the box per say and sung from his seat.
So many times I let difficult days get to me. When my mind is overwhelmed with care, my default mode is to isolate myself, silence hope and hover inside a self-made box. A box void of God, but built with walls of inward thoughts like: “Nobody understands.” “I just want to sleep.” “Will this ever get better?”
The longer I sit inside my box, the taller the walls become and the more difficult they are to break down. Defeat colors the inside and despondency spreads its ugly accents.
Witnessing the resolve of this dear soul touched my heart and the Lord began speaking to me about my default mode.
He began speaking words like:
“…for the joy set before Him he endured the cross…” Hebrews 12:2
“…the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10
The Lord is the strength that convinces me I can be joyful even on a troublesome day.
The Lord is the strength that says, you were made for more than this.
In order to break out of my box and into the Light I must make deliberate, focused decisions to put God at the center of my situation and praise on the end of my lips. I must rise from my inward position and go forth convinced of God’s sovereignty.
Before His horrendous crucifixion, Jesus said, “… on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (emphasis mine)
Jesus, on the brink of crucifixion says, “take heart.”
What did He mean?
When I look at Jesus before His crucifixion I see him doing five things I think can help you and I break out of our invisible boxes on a difficult day.
- He spent time with others.
- He served others.
- He praised God.
- He prayed.
- He submitted to God.
From His seat at the Last Supper, Jesus knew He was about to endure incredible pain and agony. He knew in just a few hours He would be completely abandoned and defenseless. Yet He never withdrew. He used the hours before His crucifixion to spend time with his disciples and serve them.
After the meal Jesus and His disciples praised the Lord through song. Then they went to the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus spent time praying to the Father. In His prayers he said, “…please take this cup of suffering away from Me. Yet I want Your will to be done, not Mine.” Mark 14:36
Dear friends, we will all experience difficult days and seasons, but these times do not have to lock us in bondage. We were meant to live outside our invisible boxes. By following Jesus’ example, we can break out of our box and experience the fullness of God even in the midst of pain.