This is a two-part message:
Last night I attended mid-week prayer service at my church. First, I have to make a confession: I had NO desire to be there. I just wanted to go home after a LONG day at work, put on my red flannel pjs, crawl into my bed and either sleep or continue reading my book - anything besides going out to church. But my mother, who is still recovering from her medical crisis and who had been cooped up in the house since Sunday, really wanted to go, so I put aside my desire for comfort and rest and off we went. AND WHAT A BLESSING it was to be in the House of the Lord for that 90 minutes! Our service starts with song service, followed by testimonies and prayer requests, and then a short sermonette/lesson by either our pastor or one of the elders. I know our pastor did not know when he was preparing last night's message taken from Hebrews 12: 1-6 that his message would be preceded by the testimonies of the saints that testified of God's goodness in their lives: from the couple that, in the midst of hardships and trials, found a resting place and tangible support from fellow believers in Christ when they visited our church; to God's blessing on a car that was having mechanical difficulties, but made it safely from Atlanta, GA to St. Augustine, FL without incident - only to break down during a 1/2 mile drive to a WalMart; to two stories of medical miracles that happened years ago (one 13 years ago and one 38 years ago) and which are still reaping blessings in the lives of those who experienced those miracles. God is AMAZING...if you don't know that, you betta ask somebody!
Anyway, after all these POWERFUL testimonies from the saints, our pastor taught about the "great cloud of witnesses" listed in Hebrews 11, aka "The Chapter of Faith". He taught that whenever we feel overwhelmed, burdened, downtrodden (and who doesn't feel that way occasionally? I know I do), we can look to this list of witnesses to the goodness of the Lord. We can look to people who have gone before us on this Christian walk and be encouraged by the fact that if God could bring them through their hard times and struggles, HE IS FAITHFUL TO DO THE SAME FOR YOU...AND ME. Can I get an "Amen" or "Hallelujah"?! (smile)
Which brings me to an email I received yesterday (and Part Two of today's blog). God has a way of bringing it all together, just as I need it, when I need it. Be encouraged by the following:
DON'T GIVE UP
I quit my job, my relationship, my spirituality... I wanted to quit my life. I went to the woods to have one last talk with God. 'God', I asked, 'Can you give me one good reason not to quit?' His answer surprised me...'Look around', He said. 'Do you see the fern and the bamboo?' 'Yes', I replied.
'When I planted the fern and the bamboo seeds, I took very good care of them. I gave them light. I gave them water. The fern quickly grew from the earth. Its brilliant green covered the floor. Yet nothing came from the bamboo seed. But I did not quit on the bamboo. In the second year the Fern grew more vibrant and plentiful. And again, nothing came from the bamboo seed. But I did not quit on the bamboo. He said. 'In year three there was still nothing from the bamboo seed. But I would not quit. In year four, again, there was nothing from the bamboo seed. I would not quit.' He said.
'Then in the fifth year a tiny sprout emerged from the earth. Compared to the fern it was seemingly small and insignificant...But just 6 months later the bamboo rose to over 100 feet tall. It had spent the five years growing roots. Those roots made it strong and gave it what it needed to survive. I would not give any of my creations a challenge it could not handle.'
He asked me. 'Did you know, my child, that all this time you have been struggling, you have actually been growing roots? I would not quit on the bamboo. I will never quit on you. Don't compare yourself to others.’ He said. 'The bamboo had a different Purpose than the fern. Yet they both make the forest beautiful.'
'Your time will come', God said to me. 'You will rise high''How high should I rise?' I asked.'How high will the bamboo rise?' He asked in return.'As high as it can?' I questioned.'Yes.' He said, 'Give me glory by rising as high as you can.'’
I left the forest and brought back this story. I hope these words can help you see that God will never give up on you.
Never, Never, Never Give up.