Sometimes it’s easy to lose sight of God’s gifts when they come surrounded by surmounting obstacles.
I lost sight of them a few weeks ago amidst stretching circumstances that have lingered far longer than anticipated or desired.
WHEN WAVES OVERWHELM
I’ve become overwhelmed as wave after wave of obstacles crash over what we strongly believed to be God’s plan.
And the waves stretch beyond our vision.
Have you been there? Maybe you’re there with me right now.
And with being overwhelmed, I’ve begun adding sarcastic remarks to my conversation revealing my heart. “Yeah, wasn’t the last bout enough, God?”
THERE’S MORE THAN JUST WAVES
I updated a friend the other day of the latest. She could sense my discouragement and fatigue. She responded by asking if she could pray for me. “Lord, as Robin unwraps bow after beautiful bow of this gift you’ve given her, may she be encouraged to peer into the box to find you. For knowing You is the greatest gift she could ever receive.”
Her words were a salve to my aching, weary heart.In the middle of life's obstacles, it's so easy to overlook the greatest gift - to know and walk with God. Click To Tweet
THE GIFT BURIED UNDERNEITH THE WAVES
How can we view the gift within surmounting obstacles? Begin searching for pearls found only within ocean depths.
…God’s kingdom is like a jewel merchant on the hunt for excellent pearls. Finding one that is flawless, he immediately sells everything and buys it.Matthew 13:45-46 (MSG)
While writing this blog, I discovered there’s a reason Jesus chose the delicate pearl to depict the gifts and treasures of His kingdom.
There are very few natural pearls within the oceans today as they’ve been over harvested. Most pearls for sale are cultured, and so don’t have the same value as natural pearls. In ancient times a flawless pearl was the most valued possession one could own, and only the richest in society could possess such a gift. As I researched ancient pearl harvesting, I learned valuable lessons:
- Harvesting natural pearls was very dangerous and time-consuming work. Ancient pearl divers tied rocks to their legs enabling them to dive 18-65 feet to reach the sharp coral reefs where pearl oysters grew. Water temperatures at the deepest points could be well below normal body temperature. At times they faced dangerous predators. They were equipped only with a wooden nose clip, cotton soaked in oil for their ears, small leather caps to protect their hands and feet, and a knife to cut the oysters from the coral bed. And when a magnificent pearl was harvested, the captain of the ship would sound a loud blast proclaiming to nearby ships an exquisite prize had been retrieved.
THE LESSON OF THE PEARLS
When life becomes more than we bargained for, it’s very easy to become blinded to God’s amazing gifts. It’s also far too easy to focus on the obstacles surrounding them. The recent trials we’ve experienced have been serious health issues, physical pain, increased anxiety, and bone-wearying fatigue, coupled with emotional pain and sadness due to family issues. These complicate packing and readying our home for a move – making something normally stressful abundantly more stressful.
Yet my friend reminded me that the most beautiful pearls are discovered when I choose to look beyond the obstacles and cry out to meet God within them. When I’ve made searching for Him a do or die event. When I’ve set aside my self-pity and instead surround myself with knowing Him.
This isn’t having a quiet time in order to appease. Nor is it doing certain “Christian practices” to please. Rather it’s the realization that if I don’t meet God, I might as well give up within those murky depths. He’s the only prize worth my efforts.
- To the ancients at the time of Christ, a flawless pearl was worth far more than our cultured pearls are today. “Before the creation of cultured pearls in the early 1900s, natural pearls were so rare and expensive that they were reserved almost exclusively for the noble and very rich. A jewelry item that today’s working women might take for granted, a 16-inch strand of perhaps 50 pearls, often costs between $500 and $5,000. At the height of the Roman Empire, when pearl fever reached its peak, the historian Suetonius wrote that the Roman general Vitellius financed an entire military campaign by selling just one of his mother’s pearl earrings.”
MY CURRENT OBSTACLES
Before all the trials hit us like a tsunami my husband and I were on a spiritual high. We anticipated all God would be doing through the ministry we’ve felt called to pursue.
In May, after much prayer, he felt to quit his job and set aside dedicated time to pursue God alone. Over a period of weeks including travel and solitude, we believed we were gaining direction. Others seemed to confirm what we thought we should be doing. So, when the trials first hit, I took them in stride. But as they continued and multiplied, I’ve questioned the original call, almost confused when I’ve felt God’s Spirit say we’re right on track. I’ve struggled immensely as the trials have dragged on, adding one on top of the other. Until about a week ago, when I began to sense I needed to learn lessons similar to Job. My friend’s timely prayer made me realize I’d lost sight of the glory of the prize I’d originally set out to find.
SCRIPTURAL ENCOURAGEMENT WHEN FACING INSURMOUNTABLE OBSTACLES
Friends, when life gets really difficult, don’t jump to the conclusion that God isn’t on the job. Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner.1 Peter 4:12-13 (MSG)
Are you where I am? Let’s take courage together as we reset our focus to hunt for the Pearl of Great Price. Ready with His aid to face any storm, any danger, to find Him. For knowing God is worth any price.
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.Jeremiah 29:13 (NIV)
DAILY HELPS FOR TSUNAMI TIMES
Seek God by Focusing on His Gifts
My friend’s prayer reminded me of a practice I’d forgotten, but one I now need to restore into my daily walk. I’ts simple and easy, but extremely profound. I must ask the Holy Spirit to open my eyes to see God’s daily gifts. In seeing them, I can more easily grasp His eternal gifts promised through His Word.
I opened my journal, and prayed, “Daddy, I can’t see your gifts right now. Open my eyes!” Pen ready, I began to write, because I know God will always answer this prayer. He did. Some of the items I jotted down were:
- IHOP music and CD’s to remind me of the truth
- God’s promise of being for us
- His presence in worship which brings calm to my spirit
- This quiet hotel room, and the window to my right letting in light on this rainy day (I’d been frustrated over staying here and feeling displaced while our house is being renovated for selling.)
- The pond across the parking lot. I love the reflections…. [serenity] in the middle of cement. (Our unit is in a metro area near a major DC airport.)
- Grace Covenant Church near our hotel. The words spoken Sunday morning, the worship, and the people’s sweet spirits.
Seek God through maintaining daily spiritual disciplines
When facing strenuous obstacles, isn’t the time to drop feeding yourself, nourishing your spirit, or spending time with those who build you up. No matter what your emotions tell you. When facing obstacles you need to maintain those things that will keep you spiritually fit.
Continue having quiet times, worship moments, prayer time, and time with brothers and sisters in Christ. But do these to dive into Jesus, to seek God’s presence and power. Don’t do them thinking God will ease the stress because you’ve done something to please Him. He wants you to seek Him in order to bless your socks off with His presence. He’s not interested in your sacrifices in order to hope to please Him. In Christ, we have already gained His pleasure.
Remember You Aren’t an Island
This also isn’t the time to face things alone. Be willing to be vulnerable to those closest who have the ability to pray and support you. We wouldn’t be doing this as we are without those in our corner shouting “Keep going, girl! God’s got you and so do we.”We best flourish when we allow overwhelming obstacles to propel us into the embrace of an overwhelmingly loving God. Click To Tweet
Seeking a flourishing life with you,
Should you wish to contact me privately, please address your email: firstname.lastname@example.org