If I look like a duck and quack like a duck, I must be a duck. I went running with my sister a few months ago. As we were going through her neighborhood, we came to a cross street that was under water from a recent tropical storm. We couldn’t help but notice that there was a duck floating by itself in the middle of the street.
My sister lives just around the corner from that street on a gorgeous lake. As I looked at that duck sitting in the middle of the flooded street I thought, “Man, he has no idea what he is missing!” He was so close to being able to swim in a beautiful, clean lake with all the fish he could ever want. This duck had no idea that around the corner was basically duck paradise.
I thought about how the duck would react had my sister and I tried to move him to the lake. Granted, I would have been scared to even touch him, but I can assume that the duck would have put up quite a fight and it would probably have been traumatic for all of us.
I came to the realization that I am just like that duck. I am so content in my own dirty, shallow water. It’s comfortable. I know what to expect, so it’s not scary. It doesn’t require movement or risk. I also know that God sometimes has different plans for my life than I have for myself. The process of moving from the flooded street to the beautiful lake is not always easy. It’s during these times of uncertainty that we can easily become so discouraged.
A few months ago, my family studied the book of Nehemiah. Nehemiah got permission from the king to go to Jerusalem and rebuild the city wall after it had been destroyed many years before. As Nehemiah and the people in Jerusalem are trying to rebuild the wall, they get news that surrounding cities are angry and planning to attack. Nehemiah prayed and God revealed the enemies plans to him. Nehemiah then split his people who were rebuilding the wall in half. Half would build and half would stand guard. Nehemiah was just trying to do what God wanted him to do, and instead of just rebuilding a wall, he had to deal with the threat of a physical attack. He had to have felt so discouraged!
This is exactly when Satan strikes. It takes very little in my own life to make me feel discouraged. I can be happily going along, enjoying my job and family, and one parent complaint or one feeling that someone isn’t satisfied with the job I’ve done, and I am completely let down. I am exactly where Satan wants me!
Our response when we face disappointment or discouragement is crucial! If we wallow in self-pity and look at how we think we deserve something better, we become ineffective for the mission or plan that God has for us.
Instead, we need to follow the example of Nehemiah. First, we need to pray. We need to ask God to change our hearts and let His desires become ours. Secondly, we should be expecting things that will test our faith in God. We should know and recognize that Satan is alive and as the father of lies, wants to keep us in a place of discouragement. Because we know that Satan wants to destroy us, we should take action. Nehemiah didn’t just sit back and say, “God will protect us, so we will just not do anything.” Nehemiah had men standing guard. The men were watching and ready to fight. We also need to equip ourselves for battle; probably not a physical battle, but a battle for our joy, peace, actions, influence, and desires.
God has a job for all of us that goes far beyond anything we can understand right now. He needs us equipped for battle and ready to do His will. He needs our minds focused on Him. We have to realize that after we have gone through scary times where we don’t know what God is doing, we will one day sit in that beautiful lake. We will see how God has met our needs and we will say wow, it was worth it! It was worth it because we now know Him deeper. It was worth it because our family will see Him more clearly. So if you are in the process of being moved from that comfortable, dirty water, stop flapping those wings and squawking with disapproval. Remember the example from Nehemiah. Remember that God’s ways are perfect and He is faithful.
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