The End of the Rope

By Linda Tancs

A common utterance is “I’m at the end of my rope.” Spoken out of emotions like desperation, depression or exasperation, it’s easy to think that you’re handling all that you can, that you can bear no more. If the phrase were true, then maybe you’d have a point. But it’s a false statement. You are not at the end of your rope—God is (Isaiah 41:10). And He’s pulling the rope in His direction. Let Him lead; don’t play “tug of war.”

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As part of FOOT FORWARD MINISTRIES, Go Forward in Faith represents faith-based meditations for personal and professional growth. Learn more at goforwardinfaith.com. Follow us on Twitter @moveonfaith and join the Facebook group @goforwardinfaith.

 

Finish Your Plate

By Linda Tancs

When you were a child, you might’ve been told to “finish your plate.” Maybe you were reminded of all the other children in the world who were starving for what was left on your plate. Jesus didn’t like waste, either. In one story of Jesus’s feeding of the multitudes, He instructed His disciples to gather the leftovers so that nothing would be wasted (John 6:10-12).

Waste isn’t just about food. What have you left on your plate, metaphorically speaking? What’s used up, worn out, fragmented? God’s power is perfected in your scraps, the bits and pieces (2 Corinthians 12:9). Give your unfinished plate to God, and He’ll make a banquet out of it (John 6:13).

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As part of FOOT FORWARD MINISTRIES, Go Forward in Faith represents faith-based meditations for personal and professional growth. Learn more at goforwardinfaith.com. Follow us on Twitter @moveonfaith and join the Facebook group @goforwardinfaith.

 

Mind the Gap

By Linda Tancs

The British use the expression “mind the gap” to call attention to gaps at train station platforms—that abyss bridging where you are from where you want to be. The gap is a good metaphor for life transitions, where your “now” is not where you ultimately want to remain.

Sound familiar? Sometimes we sidestep life’s gaps—it’s too hard, too lonely, too uncertain. We stay stuck in the “now” but then try to avoid even that by reminiscing about the “good old days” (Ecclesiastes 7:10).

Don’t fall into that trap. Instead, embrace the gap and all its messy steps and details. Contrary to popular thought, the devil isn’t in the details—God is (Proverbs 16:9).

Ask, Seek and Knock

By Linda Tancs

Matthew 7:7-12 is often construed to mean that we can have what we want if we’ll just ask, seek and knock. Of course, God delights in giving gifts to His children, like any parent (James 1:17). But we miss an important opportunity to see this passage as an invitation to trust that we are being guided and cared for unless we insert Him into it.

Read it this way: “Everyone who asks for Him, receives Him; and the one who seeks, finds Him; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened to Him.” It’s not about what, it’s about who.

In Sync

By Linda Tancs

The belief that all things work together for good to those who love God (Romans 8:28) is a recognition of Divine order. It’s an abdication of the need to know how things will work out (Proverbs 3:5). Instead, it’s an acknowledgment that things will work out. All things. Not some things or even most things. God is the ultimate timekeeper, syncing all the times of your life into a harmonious whole. You can probably look at some circumstances already and see how it worked out for the best. God’s not done yet.

More Than a Conqueror

By Linda Tancs

There’s no shortage of famous conquerors in world history, like Napoleon—renowned for his strategy and command of the battlefields of war (until Waterloo, that is). For most of us, there’s a different battle brewing. It’s in the mind, where nagging thoughts often plague and condemn us that we’re not where we need to be, not up to the task, not able to navigate life successfully, and so on. When the mind wages war we need to remember that we’re more than conquerors (Romans 8:37). What does it mean to be “more than a conqueror?” It means that, unlike Napoleon, there is no battle and, therefore, no need to conquer. We’ve already won. Through Christ, we are ready for anything and equal to anything that comes up in life (Philippians 4:13). Victory is assured; you needn’t worry about meeting your Waterloo.

Young at Heart

By Linda Tancs

Do you consider yourself “over the hill?” Maybe you can relate to King Solomon’s description of aging in Ecclesiastes 12:3—the body grows feeble, your teeth decay and your eyesight fails. Don’t be discouraged. The Psalmist promises fruit, freshness and flourishing in old age (Psalm 92:14). Indeed, some of the greatest heroes in the Bible were advanced in years. Moses got the call to deliver Israel when he was 80 years old. Isaac died full of years at 180 (Genesis 35:28), as did Jacob at 147 (Genesis 47:28). King David reigned until the age of 70, and Anna the prophetess was anywhere from 84 to 103 years old when she served in the temple at the time of Jesus’s birth (Luke 2:36-38).

Think of age as just a number. It worked for our heroes in faith. As the song Young at Heart says, it’s worth every treasure on earth to be young at heart. Remember, you can do all things through Christ who is your strength (Philippians 4:13).

It Came to Pass

By Linda Tancs

The renowned artist Auguste Renoir was an Impressionist painter, best known for his paintings of bustling Parisian modernity and leisure in the last three decades of the 19th century. He suffered terribly from arthritis in the last decade of his life but continued to paint. When asked why he continued working in such agony, he replied, “The beauty remains. The pain passes.”

That quote reminds me of the Bible phrase, “it came to pass.” It occurs with great regularity, especially in the Old Testament. You might be tempted to just brush it off as a transitional phrase, a way to mark the passage of time in a story with a flourish. But this simple phrase has the potential to mean so much more. Imagine applying it to your difficulties—a job loss, financial reversal, broken relationship, health challenge, or whatever it may be. The problem, or event, didn’t come to stay; it came to pass. Solomon’s Book of Ecclesiastes teaches this principle of coming and going (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8). In every storm of life, the pain will pass but the beauty (the ultimate good) will remain. In other words, as Paul reminded the Romans, “We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28 KJV).

Sticks and Stones

By Linda Tancs

An old childhood rhyme begins, “Sticks and stones may break my bones.” In the Bible, stones (and clubs) are often depicted as obstacles, even instruments of death. For instance, we’re reminded of stoning as a punishment for sin in the story about the adulteress brought before Jesus for sentencing (John 8:2-5). Also, Jesus reacts disappointedly to his arrest with the use of swords and clubs, as if He were a robber (Mark 14:48; Matthew 26:55; Luke 22:52). And then there’s the imposing stone placed before the entrance to the tomb following Jesus’ crucifixion (Mark 16:3).

What are your “stones” in life? Age? Infirmity? Anger? Resentment? Fear? Don’t let them break you. There’s no stone so big that He can’t roll it back. Focus on building a better foundation based on the One who is the cornerstone (Psalm 118:22; Acts 4:11).

Unbroken

By Linda Tancs

Ernest Hemingway once said, “The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong in the broken places.” What does it mean to be strong in the broken places? Everyday life is full of examples. In woodworking, some forms of joinery add toughness and flexibility to a project. In the medical field, a concept known as Wolff’s Law is used to explain why a broken bone seemingly grows stronger after it heals. Think of other instances when the brittle, compromised place becomes strong—“un”broken.

You may be heartbroken over an event in your life: the loss of a companion, a job, an opportunity. The Psalmist reminds us that God heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds (Psalm 147:3). Even when there is no change in outward circumstances, the Scriptures remind us that through God’s grace we have the strength to “keep calm and carry on.” For instance, Paul suffered from a “thorn in the flesh” (an unknown malady that might have been of physical or psychological origin) that Paul prayed to be cured, but the Lord reminded him that His strength and power rested most powerfully in Paul’s weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). Adversity builds character when we lean on God for direction.