The quote grabbed me and shook me. It took my breath. The words “fought, fell, and rose again” got up in my throat, dug in their claws, and refused to leave. The message reminded me of the turmoil that had been boiling through my gut for, what seemed to be, forever. Grappling with decisions to make, desperate to run away with a dark brown paper bag over my head to conceal my real identity was my only aspiration. Digging my heels in the dirt, getting some momentum, and plunging full speed ahead? This was not exactly my version of what I wanted to do. It had been a real ordeal thinking through possible strategies to choose the right one for moving from A to B. All of the strategies had potholes capable of slowing down progress and, if I fell on my face, being laughed at. So what was the problem? Numerous ones.
Just to name a few:
(1) Do I expand my horizon and move to Brooklyn, New York, where I would attend a university with a full scholarship or checkout a Maryland college less than an hour drive from my hometown?
(2) Do I break up with a longterm boyfriend (who I suspect is selling drugs) or trust his denial as truth?
(3) Do I enter the Miss Wheelchair Maryland contest (lots of fun, but lots of stress) and possibly win (requiring a one year commitment to travel and do guest speaking, lectures, etc.), which would mean going on to the American pageant held in Ohio?
If I chose to cancel the A-to-B goal, what alternatives remained? Would I be settling for life less than the best. Do you know what I mean?
“I’m tired and scared,” is the reason (excuse) I often nurtured in my heart, procrastinating and dodging the goals I really wanted to go for. But did that explanation justify turning my back on what I honestly believed I felt called to do?
In my head I often tightened my fists and banged them on the table a hundred times, sobbing until there were no tears left, angry for letting myself and God down. Sadly, I often forgot that the kingdom of God was within me. Why did I forget? How could I have acted as if God was not here? As if He was not in me?
Several years ago, I was so tired and so scared. It was cold outside. The road was dangerous. A good friend had told me I was crazy for rolling down Northern Parkway, on the corner of McClain Blvd, to catch a bus in a snow storm. Yes, I was unrealistic–and I can still be. But don’t fence me in! I was compelled to go.
I ran into a friend. She tried to persuade me to turn around and go back home. But her “warning” fell on deaf ears. Yes, I was and still have the potential to be a stubborn person.
I rolled on the wheelchair lift of the the Baltimore City Bus, and away I went. After reaching my bus stop destination, I rolled a few blocks, choosing places on the street without snow, and finally arrived at her house.
“Oh, hi! Come in,” Jean yelled from the kitchen. Her voice trembled. I sensed fear.
“Where’s Sharon?” I asked. Sharon was the person I really came to see.
“She can’t come downstairs right now,” Mike (Jean’s husband) answered as he entered the kitchen. He ruled the roost in their house, and always did everything possible to rule anyone crossing his path.
“Mike, Sharon is expecting me,” I said in a calm, but definite tone.
“Don’t matter to me!” Mike responded. A cocky guy.
I rolled from the kitchen to the stairway in the living room and yelled, “Sharon, I’m here! You doing alright?” Sharon had no legs, but she possessed strong arms. To get around she hobbled on her nubs. I loved Sharon. She was intellectually classified as retarded, but don’t believe it for a minute, she was smart as a whip in the things that mattered most.
“Mary?!” She looked into my eyes. A reflection of relief was in her voice.
“Where’s your wheelchair, Sharon?” Somehow I was getting her out of there. I knew in my heart she was just hanging in with them for a season. I could tell. No one told me, but I sensed it deep in my gut.
“It’s behind the stairs.”
Mike must have heard our dialog and walked over to me, pushed his big body against my motorized wheelchair, and blurted out in my face, “She’s not going anywhere!”
Suddenly Mike was called to go outdoors to look at a car his friend was trying to sell to him. I knew I had to call the police NOW!
“Jean, can I use your phone a second?”
“Sure, Mary!” Jean looked scared.
I called 911, told them my friend was being held hostage, and they came. I had been to visit Sharon a few other times and realized her predicament, but did nothing. I was tired and scared and I failed to help Sharon. But this time was different. God blessed my courage to not listen to others, but to press forward to follow through with my conviction and help Sharon. Oh, Mike gave all of us, including the police, a hard time, but it didn’t matter–and I had to smile.
Making decisions and following through to complete the mission may not win us a popularity contest. It could be a dangerous decision that makes us tired and scared, but rising with courage brings valued achievements, including deliverance from the clutch of an evil man.
Are you convinced by God to do something? Tired and scared? Let your weary distress and fear go. Pray. Lean on God. Move forward. Set yourself free–and maybe a friend.
God is the Potter. We are the clay.