Survival with a Purpose
by Janet Chester Bly
The people around me face a barrage of complex circumstances, overloads and strained relationships. Even in my small country town. I surmise it’s the same where you live. Wherever two or three gather, stress can multiply.
When these struggles reach a fever pitch they drive us to search for the nearest exit. To survive with sanity. Sometimes we bow out of the very conflicts that could help us become all God wants us to be.
Jean couldn’t take the strain anymore of her husband’s refusal to change. Within two weeks of the divorce she remarried against the advice of family and friends. She reached her breaking point and found freedom to forge her own blueprint for happiness. Meanwhile, others watched from the sidelines.
When the Samsons heard of the Tooley’s separation, they were devastated. A series of misunderstandings had cooled their affections. They struggled to regain the love. “Maybe we should call it quits while we still have time to make a new life for ourselves,” they reasoned. “If Jean couldn’t take the pressure, how can we?”
Marilyn had a special heartache. She discovered her husband had been unfaithful. When she confronted him, he moved out to live with his girlfriend. However, within weeks begged Marilyn to take him back. His reason? He couldn’t stand the thought another man might raise his own children. He promised to never see his girlfriend again.
Marilyn felt trapped as years of potential token marriage loomed ahead. Would her bitterness ever heal? Would he ever care for her again in the way she needed and wanted? Her friend Jean seemed to succeed in her choices. Maybe she should follow her lead.
Each of these gals had one goal in mind: survival. Not one considered a higher goal: a God-centered purpose. For His glory.
Life is hard, no matter who you are or where you live. Helps are needed. Each New Year I search for a powerful, God-honoring prod that will help sustain His purpose through imperfect me in the coming months ahead.
Sometimes it’s through a phrase like “though none go with me, I still will follow” or a word such as “discipline” or “gratitude.” It can be my Verse of the Year: “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15) or “This one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead” (Philippians 3:13, 14) or “Since I have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding me, I will lay aside every burden and sin that so easily entangles me” (Hebrews 12:1). I’ve written these on 3″ x 5″ cards, on dry-erase boards, expanded on them in journals, painted them on posters, so they get memorized and embedded for a year’s journey into the unknown.
These designated prompters nudge my direction and decisions. For the sake of obedience to Him. For the encouragement of those who may watch from the sidelines. To cause me to grow and flex spiritual muscle. But it’s more than a word or a phrase or verse pulled out by random. There’s often a powerful story, a role model, an example behind each choice.
Like the woman I saw in the hospital bed. She was stretched flat on her back on the incline of an auditorium aisle, a uniformed attendant beside her. At her son’s graduation from seminary. “They didn’t think I’d make it, but I did,” she said. “I just had to be here to see him.”
Like the guy with the limp who persevered to run across the country to raise money for his amputee wounded vet brother and others like him.
Or like the girl watched by millions on TV at the National Spelling Bee who finally peaked out. The pressure got to her … the crowds, the lights, the competition, and she didn’t feel so great. All the many words she’d gotten right. All the contests won before. And the people she cared about who counted on her. So she stood there, sweating and miserable as she knew she was about to misspell ‘indemnity.’
These folks fought for survival. Their ever-present pain endured. Their ready excuses of handicaps and difficult details discarded. The pity stares from others ignored. They cared enough for someone else to keep going, to be there, to show up. They’re building a life message in, through and in spite of them.
Who is your champion for this coming year?
When Ladies’ Home Journal published “100 Most Important Women of the 20th Century” gals as diverse as Margaret Thatcher and Oprah Winfrey, Jackie Kennedy and Lucille Ball, Anne Frank and Mother Theresa, I studied the list with great interest. I looked for a common denominator by which each deserved this hallowed hall of fame. With all their stark differences, one element characterized them all. Devotion. They devoted themselves with steady courage to somebody or something, a specific accomplishment.
Jesus Christ loved the church enough to die for it. He loved us enough to sacrifice every earthly pleasure for you and me. To redeem us. That fact has been reiterated so often our minds glaze over. We lose the impact. But he had our personal stories, our chaos and crises, our estrangements and tragedies, our fatal flaws in mind when he kept going and endured it all.
If you can’t love another human enough to stay strong in the coming challenges and trials, seek to love Him enough. Make Him your purpose.
Janet Chester Bly is the widow of award-winning western author Stephen Bly. She and her three sons finished his last novel, Stuart Brannon’s Final Shot, which was a Selah Award Finalist. She has also authored and co-authored 31 other nonfiction and fiction books, including The Heart of a Runaway and Awakening Your Sense of Wonder. She lives in Winchester, Idaho, at 4,200 ft. elev. on the Nez Perce Indian Reservation. Find her on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest. Website: www.BlyBooks.com