“‘Go back?’ he thought. ‘No good at all! Go sideways? Impossible! Go forward? Only thing to do! On we go!’ So up he got, and trotted along with his little sword held in front of him and one hand feeling the wall, and his heart all of a patter and a pitter.”The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien
In The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Bilbo Baggins sets off on an adventure with Gandalf and group of dwarves. At first he is unwilling to join the quest, but at the last minute he throws things in a bag and runs off to catch up with the group. It’s not long into the trip before he is thrown into the uncomfortable by being forced to ride a pony. It’s his first hint that the journey will be full of twists and turns, not all of them pleasant, but he keeps moving forward.
I find myself in the same boat, so to speak. I start a new knitting project so excited, picking out colors and making plans. Even casting on brings joy, but part way through the pattern we hit a snag or have problems understanding the pattern, and suddenly we want to throw the project in our bag for another day or forget it altogether.
Every April our Ladies Group does a Bible study, and this year we are studying Promises of God from Love God Greatly. The first week’s topic was God is with you. As we were discussing the lessons, a commentary mentioned that the devil uses discouragement as a favorite tool for making Christians ineffective. It keeps us from doing what God has called us to do. We also discussed that sometimes you just have to do it afraid, knowing God will be with you. Another comment was that we need to stay the course no matter what is happening because God is with us. The study suggested praying God’s words back to Him in order to combat fear and discouragement. The main verse for the week was:
So do not fear, for I am with you;Isaiah 41:10
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
This week I put that suggestion to use and I felt the power of standing on God’s Word. Today, I began a short-term extra job to help raise funds for a newer car. Fridays are the one day that I can work an 8-hour shift, so I was discouraged when I woke up to a sinus migraine. The headache began to worsen after an hour of working, so I took a break. I came back and had to do a training set. The headache was no better, so I informed my leader that I was taking medicine and a break and would hopefully be back later. The headache finally died down to a dull ache, so I went back to work around 2:30.
Within an hour, my validity dropped and I had to do a training session and pass a training set in order to continue working. At one point, I considered just signing out for the day. In the middle of the training, my practice set was only 50% valid and I got very discouraged. I thought that maybe I shouldn’t be doing the job. I read Isaiah 41:10 back to God and reminded Him that He had put this job in place and I needed to pass in order to keep working, so I needed wisdom to answer the questions. I passed. Even then I considered quitting for the day while I was ahead despite the fact that there were 2 hours left on my shift and I had lost a couple of hours with the headache. Just then the phrase stay the course caught my eye. I knew I had to keep going. Like Bilbo I had to keep going forward.
God said not to be afraid because he would be with us, strengthen us, help us and uphold us, but He never said it would all be easy. It takes rough roads sometimes to remind us who is in control and where our help comes from:
I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. 2 My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.Psalms 121:1-2
When the journey is full of twists, turns, potholes, and even an occasional detour, we know we can stay the course because God is with us. Don’t let the devil use discouragement or fear to stop you. Pray God’s Word back to Him and feel the power of the Almighty begin to work. Then just like Bilbo keep going forward and stay the course. Even greater adventures still await.