Author Dan Allender in his book, To Be Told, talks about our lives being made up of stories~each one possessing a beginning, a middle, and eventually an end. “Endings are meant to be sensual, wild fullness of all that came before”. He poses the following questions: Other than Heaven and being with God for eternity, what are the endings to your story?
Can any of you see what they might be?
How do I celebrate when there is a satisfying close to one of my stories?
Growing up it seemed most of the endings to my stories was that my joy was always stolen. The family I grew up with were very good at stealing my joy and I would walk away defeated and wounded. I have realized that in many ways that is how I have perceived life, expecting the joy of my endings to be stolen. But in the last few years I have also realized something else. Let me share a story with you that happened just last week while on vacation in Mexico.
My husband and I took a much needed vacation to someplace warm after being apart for 8 weeks while he was working on the ice roads. This was a time of rest, refreshment and bonding. It was glorious!
But about half way through the week while walking on the beach late one afternoon we came across a sea snake that had washed up on shore while the tide was out. It was desperately trying to get back to the ocean. It was big, long & hideous and I was terrified & repulsed. I have a terrible fear of snakes that stems from my abusive childhood. As a child I had nightmares several times a week about snakes and I would wake up in a cold sweat, scared and crying, having turn the light on to check the bed to make sure there weren’t any in my bed. So seeing one this close I knew would affect me.
As we continued our walk I got quieter and quieter, withdrawing into myself. Later that evening as I reflected on my day I was feeling anxious, sad and depressed. I had so looked forward to this vacation and prayed that God would show up and reveal Himself to me in a new and fresh way. But as I sat there my thought process went something like this: “Oh great, I ask for God to show up and instead Satan shows up in the form of a snake. Gee thanks God.” I felt cheated and disheartened, all the joy gone. I continued to withdraw, shutting out my husband and closing in on myself.
Fear continued to creep in and I knew that I was not going back in the ocean. In fact, I wanted to go home, to end the vacation right now, all the joy was gone. You may think that I was overreacting or that I was being extreme, but my fear of snakes is enormous. And even though I had been swimming in the ocean and having a great time earlier, suddenly the thought of snakes being in the ocean terrified me, stealing my joy and replacing it with dread & fear.
As I continued to withdraw, my husband let me wrestle. And wrestle I did. I slept fitfully that night dreaming once again of snakes. I woke up feeling unclean, all joy gone replaced with repulsion, sadness and distress. The joy and expectation of this vacation was gone. God hadn’t shown up, He let me down was the train of my thoughts.
Later that morning sitting once again on the beach I knew I had a choice. What would be the ending to this story? Would I choose to let the enemy win once more and steal my joy, ending this story with unhappiness and regret, or would I trust my God and face my fears.
I realized that as a child I couldn’t choose what the endings were because they were often chosen for me. But as an adult now, I had a choice.
Would I allow fear to rob me of my blessings, stealing my joy and what God had for me on this vacation? Or would I face my fear and trust my heavenly Father?
God showed up the next morning and spoke to me Deuteronomy 30:19-20 “Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! You can make this choice by loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him. This is the key to your life. And if you love and obey the Lord, you will live long in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”
And so that morning I chose to face my fear, I stood up on the inside and made the choice to not allow fear to rob me again. I then went and got two boogie boards, one for me and one for my husband and much to his surprise said, “Let’s go swimming!!”
And even though two days later we saw another snake, and since found out they were poisonous, I chose to not let fear defeat me and steal my joy. I still hate snakes and am petrified of them and have had unsettling dreams again, but I also knew that I was not going to let the enemy steal my joy this time. The ending to this story would be different.
God had blessed us with this vacation and we were creating many lasting, wonderful memories and as I looked fear fully in the face I chose LIFE!!
The real issue wasn’t the snake but rather it was “fear”….I had no control over the snake but I realized that I did have power over the fear. 1 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” The enemy had me focusing on the object rather than what it was doing to me.
I have lived too much of my life in fear, not really living…..but that morning as I chose to go back in the water I chose LIFE!!….to live life with abandon and to live abundantly…because this is what my Jesus promised me!! I learned a big lesson that day;
I can choose to celebrate endings to my stories~with life!!