November 8, 2004
Encouragement for Today
Sharon Jaynes, Vice President of Proverbs 31 Ministries, author, radio co-host, speaker
"In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus" (Philippians 1:4-6 NIV).
A few years ago, the epic drama, Gone with the Wind, was re-released in theaters all across America. This digitally enhanced, chromatically improved icon took us back to a time in history when American was experiencing a paradigm shift. My husband and I thought it was important for our teenage son to have the "Gone with the Wind" experience on the big screen, so we purchased three tickets and settled in for what we knew would be a long evening.
After about two hours, we got to the scene where a sullied Miss Scarlet, deserted by Rhett, stood on a hilltop with Atlanta burning the background, collapsed to the ground, and slowly pulled herself into an upright position. With fist held high, she declared that she would make it through this trial and "As God is my witness," she proclaimed, "I will never be hungry again." Then the curtain fell, and Steven turned to me and said, "That was a strange way to end."
"Oh, but look," I replied. Then we saw the words "intermission" imposed over the curtain.
"You've got to be kidding," Steven said.
"Nope, we're only halfway done."
You know, I've identified with Miss Scarlet on several occasions. Sometimes life just gets so complicated it seems dreams have been snatched away by some rebel force I can't quite wrap my mind around. My previous way of life is up in flames in the background, my man doesn't understand, and my friends have all run for cover. What will I do? Where will I go? Is this the end?
Then as the curtain falls on this scene in my life, I think to myself, this is a strange way to end. But I look again and see God pointing to the screen as if to say, "This, my child, is not the end". It is but the intermission. Get up. Take a break. Stretch if you must, but the movie of your life is not over yet.
Looking back in the Bible, there were many men and women who came to a point in their lives where they thought it was the end - only to discover later that it was merely an intermission. Elijah hid in a cave thinking his ministry was over, Moses herded sheep in the desert believing his dream to rescue the Hebrews was dashed, Jonah made his bed under the shade of a plant and laid down to die. The prophet Samuel groveled in depression after his charge, King Saul, disobeyed God and lost his reign. Each of these men thought it was the end, but in reality, it was only an intermission. God wasn't finished with the drama of their lives quite yet.
I don't know what you're facing today. Perhaps your life has taken you to an unexpected place. Perhaps, like Moses, you've made a poor decision that resulted in you running from God and from man. Perhaps like Elijah, you've allowed someone's threats to put fear in your heart and you're in hiding. Perhaps like Jonah, you've obeyed God, but feel duped because your obedience didn't bring the results you'd hoped for. Perhaps like Samuel, you're depressed because someone you oversee (for example - a child) didn't turn out like you had hoped. With your dreams burning in the background, perhaps you've stood on the hillside with fist raised in the air making declarations to God.
If you see yourself in the screen, may I encourage you sit down, take a deep breath, stretch, and regroup? The story's not over yet. Perhaps you're just at an intermission. As someone once said, we shouldn't put a period where God put a comma.
We finally finished the movie. I don't think it ended the way Miss Scarlet would have liked.
But, I'll just think about that tomorrow....
Dear Lord, sometimes I feel like there is no hope, like the story of my life is running amuck on the sandbar of disappointment. Thank you, Lord, that you never see a situation as hopeless. That what you have begun in me will be completed. Lord, when I make a poor decision, help me to repent and go on with life; when I want to go into hiding, help me to have the courage to come back out of the cave of despair; when I am disappointed, help me to look to You alone, the author and finisher of life. Help me to obey You, no matter what the cost. In Jesus' name, Amen
Pretend that your life is a movie script.
Who are the major characters?
What is the plot?
How do you hope it will end?
Who is directing the movie?
Who is working behind the scenes?
What is the purpose of this movie?
Now, go back and look at what you have recorded to see how it lines up with what you know to be true from God's Word.
Have you given up on a particular situation or a particular person?
Could it be that it is time for the intermission to be over, and God is waiting for you to come back on the stage?
Have you put a period where God has put a comma?
If so, what do you need to do about it?
"And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work" (2 Corinthians 2:8 NIV).
"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen" (Ephesians 3:20-21 NIV).
"To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy - to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen" (Jude 24-25 NIV).
"The LORD answered Moses, "Is the LORD's arm too short? You will now see whether or not what I say will come true for you" (Numbers 11:23 NIV).
"For the LORD Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart him? His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back?" (Isaiah 14:27 NIV).
Becoming a Woman who Listens to God by Sharon Jaynes
Originally published Monday, 08 November 2004.