Remaining Steadfast When You Want to Run

Have you ever experienced a time of tension in your life…when anxiety and frustration were rising, making you simply want to run away?  But, in that moment, you knew that running would be an act of disobedience, taking you away from where God wants you to be.  How does one remain steadfast when you want to run?

This is a question I have been asking and living out in my life for the past several years.  2016 was trying.  2017 was worse.  2018 brought compounded struggles.  In 2019, well let’s just say I was sitting on New Year’s Eve praying 2018 wasn’t quite over yet, because this downward trend wasn’t a ride I wanted to continue on.

It has been a tough few years, but I’m not going to say it was all doom and gloom.  There have been some incredible blessings and moments of rich joy sprinkled throughout this season.  But, there have been some incredibly HARD moments where I felt like fleeing as fast as I could.

In many ways it feels like the past few years have been a season of deterioration.  Like most relationships and things in my life have a decreased quality.  The most painful part is seeing the breakdowns, wanting so badly to repair them, but not having the resources to invest in their improvement.

I sit and absorb messages of “you will reap what you sew”, “what you put in you will get back out”, “hard work will pay large dividends”.  Yet, the last few years have felt like the most burdensome, exhausting, and work filled years I have experienced.  I have virtually nothing to show for the effort.

At least that is what it feels like in my downcast moments.

I have gotten to the point where I can hardly share the struggles that I am facing with anyone.  I really would like a friend who would just listen, but the times I try to open up I get bombarded with one of two things – the weight of their own burdens or “advice” on how I should “fix” my circumstances.

It’s not that I don’t care about what the people around me are going through.  I really do.  Deep down I want to help, serve, and love them.  I understand that sometimes people just want to share that they can relate to the struggles I am facing.  I don’t want to be a bringer of bad news, but I wonder if anyone is hearing that I hurt.

I also don’t want to push away suggestions of assistance.  I am evaluating options every single day trying to improve our circumstances.  Many of those who are trying to help want to go back to square one and revisit things that I have already tried repeatedly without success.   We are fervently praying for a path to faithfully follow in, but most don’t listen long enough to know that.

Not being heard and truly listened to makes my internal frustrations rise to infernal levels, adding explosive amounts of fuel to the desire to run away.

How do we remain steadfast, when the desire to run away burns within us?

My husband and I live on a farm.  For all intensive purposes, let’s just call it a faltering farm at this point in time.  Yet, my husband has faith that things are going to work out, that this is where we are called to be at this season of our lives.  That we need to be committed to not changing, committed to remaining steadfast.

Me on the other hand, well I suppose you could say I’m the volatile one.  I’m the one who was hesitant about coming to the farm in the first place.  I’m the one who boldly proclaimed from the get go, “I don’t see how this is going to work.”

I’m one who has at several weak moments over the past few years wanted to walk away from my husband because it felt as though the farm was a greater priority than anything else in his life, our marriage and our children included.

Yet, even in the moments where I was polishing up my resume, looking for career change options, and calculating what it would take to make a move, there was something in me that spoke a command to STAY.

Frazzled and frustrated I have stayed.  I knew that being obedient to that command was what I was called to do.  The clarity of the command was crystal clear.

I really wish I had a hope filled, happy ending for you, one that showed just how great the pay off is for persevering through pain and remaining steadfast.  But, I don’t.

I’m still in the mucky middle of this mess.  I continue to resist the urge to run and remain planted and poised for what the future may bring.  I am still fighting to have a fortitude in my thoughts to bear through this chaos with courage.

Most of my prayers have to do with getting us out, and seeing us through.  It’s been quite a challenge to pray, “Lord, help me remain.”

The strength to remain will never be something we can conjure up on our own.  No amount of self help, motivational memes, or personal willpower will produce a spirit of steadfastness.

I have come to learn in this season of struggle that steadfastness is not produced within, but steadfastness is absorbed by being surrounded by the love of the Savior.

“Many are the sorrows of the wicked,
but steadfast love surrounds the one
who trusts in the Lord.”
Psalm 32:10 (ESV)

The one who trusts in the Lord is surrounded by steadfast love; steadfast love to soak in, savor, and absorb.

God’s steadfast love endures eternally, never leaving or forsaking us.  If you are wondering if it could be true, tentative to trust if it is, then join me in reading Psalm 136 (ESV).

His Steadfast Love Endures Forever

136 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
    for his steadfast love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods,
    for his steadfast love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;

to him who alone does great wonders,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
to him who by understanding made the heavens,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
to him who spread out the earth above the waters,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
to him who made the great lights,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
the sun to rule over the day,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
the moon and stars to rule over the night,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;

10 to him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
11 and brought Israel out from among them,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
12 with a strong hand and an outstretched arm,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
13 to him who divided the Red Sea in two,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
14 and made Israel pass through the midst of it,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
15 but overthrew[a] Pharaoh and his host in the Red Sea,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
16 to him who led his people through the wilderness,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;

17 to him who struck down great kings,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
18 and killed mighty kings,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
19 Sihon, king of the Amorites,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
20 and Og, king of Bashan,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
21 and gave their land as a heritage,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
22 a heritage to Israel his servant,
    for his steadfast love endures forever.

23 It is he who remembered us in our low estate,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
24 and rescued us from our foes,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
25 he who gives food to all flesh,
    for his steadfast love endures forever.

26 Give thanks to the God of heaven,
    for his steadfast love endures forever.

 

Twenty six verses and the header all proclaim the same thing, “His steadfast love endures forever.”

Not one verse, not two verses, not eight verses, but twenty six verses repeat the same message the Lord’s steadfast love endures forever.

You know what, some of us need to hear it twenty six times over.  We need it when the exhaustion sets in.  We need it when frustration rises.  We need it when we want to run away as fast as we can.

There will be seasons of struggle when we need to hear this every hour of every day.  The good news is there are 24 hours in a day and 26 reminders in this one Psalm alone.

And if you still struggle to stay, you read what Paul wrote in Colossians 1:18-23 (Message)

He was supreme in the beginning and—leading the resurrection parade—he is supreme in the end. From beginning to end he’s there, towering far above everything, everyone. So spacious is he, so roomy, that everything of God finds its proper place in him without crowding.

Not only that, but all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe—people and things, animals and atoms—get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his death, his blood that poured down from the cross.

You yourselves are a case study of what he does. At one time you all had your backs turned to God, thinking rebellious thoughts of him, giving him trouble every chance you got.

But now, by giving himself completely at the Cross, actually dying for you, Christ brought you over to God’s side and put your lives together, whole and holy in his presence.

You don’t walk away from a gift like that! You stay grounded and steady in that bond of trust, constantly tuned in to the Message, careful not to be distracted or diverted.

There is no other Message—just this one. Every creature under heaven gets this same Message. I, Paul, am a messenger of this Message.”

It is the gift of Christ’s sacrificial love for us that gives us the strength to remain steadfast.  It is the message of love that is willing to suffer for us, to die for us, a supernatural gift of goodness, that is the resilient truth we can anchor to through any storm.

Like Paul says, “You don’t walk away from a gift like that! You stay grounded and steady in that bond of trust, constantly tuned in to the Message, careful not to be distracted or diverted.” 

I am so thankful for the times when I have so badly wanted to run that the Lord has reminded me to stay.

I must say that there was never a time where I felt eminent harm for myself or my children by staying.  In no way am I encouraging anyone to stay who is at risk of harm.  By all means please seek help.  There are many gracious servants of the Lord, with the talent, time, tenacity, and trust in the Lord to assist you through any crisis.

The words I write today are a means of me sharing the struggles that I am experiencing, as well as the lessons that I am in middle of learning.

Out of the fire of frustration to be heard, the fruit of learning how to really listen emerges.

When the reserves are depleted, the gift of being able to give becomes even more joyous.

The urge to run away is taken from a tender kiss on the cheek reminds you of the anchor of unity that remains steadfast through the storm.

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Live It Out 

Is there anything in your life right now that you want to run away from?

What messages are you absorbing in this season?  Are they messages of truth and love, reinforcing what you have been called to?  Are they mixed signals from a messy world whose influences attempt to weaken and divide?

Take some time today to still yourself and soak in God’s steadfast love for you.  Re-read Psalm 136 and Colossians 1:18-23.  Take a note card or sticky note and write down the words or phrases that stand out to you.  Re-read those this week in those moments you feel the fires of frustration heating up in your head and your heart.

Pray Through It

Beloved Lord, 

Thank You so much for the eternal tenacity of Your love for us!  Thank You for seeing us through ALL of our troubling times and trials by the goodness of Your helping hand.  Lord, help us to have new realization and understanding of Your steadfast love. 

Help us to take the message of Your sacrifice as a personal gift that we can stay grounded and steady in regardless of the storms surrounding us.  Help us not to be distracted or diverted, especially by messages of temptation that desire to influence us to run, to leave, to stray, especially when they give the illusion that to follow them will lead to easier times or less pain.  

May we not only soak in the steadfastness of Your eternal love, may we learn through the lavishness of Your grace, continually washing over us, how to be Your servants and grace givers who bring a mighty manifestation of mercy into our world in this time and this place. 

In the eternal, steadfast love of Jesus, amen. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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