Under Fire

I danced today. I was there for six hours. Six. I was pushed beyond my limits, and felt overwhelmed more than a couple times. At moments, it felt like what was being demanded of me was impossible. By the tenth correction of the same small movement, I wanted to shout in frustration, "What more do you want me to do?"

I was so exhausted. My feet hurt terribly- my laces were tied so tight, I could feel them creating indents in my skin. It stung. I had blisters that were rubbing, bruises that were pounding, muscles that were aching, and I was slick with sweat. I was trying so hard. I was pushing myself so far, but I was being pushed even further. "Try it again." "Try it again." "Not good enough, do it again." "Again." It was agonizing, it was embarrassing, it was tiring. It felt degrading. To begin with such high hopes, and feel for six hours straight that my best was not enough. I was challenged more than I've ever been challenged before.

At moments, I was close to giving up. At moments, I just wanted to stop, and move on to something easier.

And right at those moments... I improved.

It didn't happen on the first try, not the second, not the third... but on try 100, I saw... I felt... progress. It was always just when I thought there was no more I could give. The moments where I felt so discouraged, and felt that my goal was unattainable, it was always the next try that I heard my instructor say, "YES. Now THAT is how it's done."

Discouragement gave way to joy so quickly. My disheartened frame of mind gave way to a passionate, eager one, as I tried it again. And again. And again. But this time, perfectly, and of my own accord. If Try 100 was again a failure, try 101 was the moment of victory. Suddenly, the move didn't seem so small. The proper technique didn't seem pointless. The demands I had been given didn't seem so impossible, or frustrating. I finally understood what was expected. I couldn't wipe the grin off my face. I had finally made it. And within a minute, I had gone from not wanting to try the move ever again... to not wanting to stop.

It's interesting the way that works. It's strange. It's actually weird how God designed everything in such a way that progress takes time. Success takes work. Triumph takes perseverance. Nothing comes immediately. Nobody is born a star- nobody is born at the top. Nobody is born, already having accomplished great things. Nobody can simply snap their fingers, and be a master at their trade. Nobody can make it to the top by sheer will. Talent is developed. Good work takes effort. And everything. Takes. Time.

James 1:2-4
Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for
great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 
So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be
perfect and complete, needing nothing.

Nothing pays off without work and effort being put in. It's a balanced equation. Nothing can be produced by nothing. It's just the way things work, and it works that way because that is how we develop character.

There have been a few times where I've thought to myself, after a long, hard day, I've told myself, "Tomorrow I will write another blog. It's been so long, but tomorrow will be the day." I can't tell you the number of times 'tomorrow' stayed just that. Tomorrow. I can't tell you the number of times I've forced myself to sit down at my desk and just write. I've had to MAKE myself come up with something; anything. I've had to look through my journal, grasping at straws, trying to make sense of the jumble of thoughts in my head.

A few times, I've been tempted to delete those blogs after writing them. I think to myself, "Now that was a load of garbage. It was poorly written. I'm just too tired. It probably doesn't even make sense- what am I even thinking?" I've hovered my cursor over the 'Delete' button thinking, "This is a waste of internet space. It'll do nobody any good- I just shouldn't bother.

And... I can't tell you the number of times my friends message me saying, "Thank you so much for writing that post- it spoke to me," or "That post you wrote was very powerful and perfect for what I am going through," or "I felt so blessed after reading your post, it was just what I needed to hear after feeling so dejected today."

...Wow. More often than not, it has been the blogs that I felt were weak, stupid, or poorly written, that have gotten the most positive feedback. I'm not exaggerating. God always seems to work His wonders through my weakest posts. Things like that don't happen in the world. That doesn't happen in the Olympics, it doesn't happen for businesses and companies, but it happens in the Kingdom of God.

Why? Because we don't work on our own strength. We don't rely on ourselves. If we do, then we reap the mediocre, satisfactory rewards. But when we rely on our Lord, He magnifies our efforts, and turns them into something beautiful. He takes all our weaknesses, and shows us how HE has the power to turn them into power.

Galatians 6:9 ~
So let's not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time
we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don't give up.

It's exactly what happened for me at dance, and it's exactly how God works in the lives of His servants. He shows Himself to mankind through the most unexpected people, in the most  baffling ways, but always with the perfect result. He is glorified when we obey him despite our weakness. He is honoured when we let go of ourselves, when we forget our flaws and take a leap of faith. It is proven in Jonah, Moses, Gideon, Peter, Paul, David, Mary... why did He choose the weak? Why did he choose the inadequate, and troubled?

Because it is their stories that are so bewildering, and amaze us the most. That's why they are still read today! Those people from ancient times are still bringing glory to God's name, because they, in one way or another, ended up letting God use them, mold them, change them, and perfect them for His purpose. There may have been more well-equipped individuals for the job, but then they would have received the credit, and God would have been ignored. His way of working is perfect. Genius. So let's go along with it! We can prove that God is alive and as powerful by the fact that we are weak, sick, sinful, failures, that are pressing onward and accomplishing wondrous things!

1 Corinthians 1:26~
Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world's eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who thing they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God.

We are being refined in God's Holy fire. Constantly. We can let it break us. We can give up because of the heat, we can step out and cool down because we think we can't take it. But the truth is, He never gives us more than we can handle. And when we stick with it, even just past  the moment when we think that nothing is happening... we will reap a blessing bigger than any other. It will always be worth it. Would God be spending so much time refining you, molding you, and forming you, to have you turn out as a disappointment? It's impossible, because God never makes disappointing things. And He never fails. You will grow, and you will be stronger. Sharpening a sword is never relaxing. The scrapes and the cuts leave you never the same. It screeches. It's difficult. But without the sharpening process, the sword is useless. And afterwards, it is a valuable product, polished to perfection, a dazzling sight to behold.

Our Refiner knows what He's doing. He knows better than you. Our potter has us safe in His hand, and He already has seen what you will look like when you are done. So why despair?

2 Corinthians 12:8-10~
...He said, "My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness." So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That's why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ... 

...For when I am weak, then I am strong.