One Hundred One Upward Glances
By Sandra P. Aldrich
Published by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
Glance #Nine: Impossible Standards It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery (Galatians 5:1).
At the end of a woman’s retreat at which I had told my usual Mama Farley stories, several women stayed behind to talk to me. One young woman kept letting the others go ahead, so I inwardly began to pray for her, wondering what terrible sin she wanted to confess without additional hearers. Finally she and I were alone.
As I turned to her, she blurted, "I’m not as close to the Lord as I used to be."
I often hear that statement, and it’s usually followed by an admission of sin. So, bracing myself, I asked why she felt that way.
She began to twist the tissue in her hands. "I’m not spending enough time in the Word. I used to spend at least an hour studying the Bible every morning, but I don’t now." Tears were beginning to form in her eyes.
That wasn’t what I expected. "Tell me about your life," I invited.
"Well, I got married four years ago," she said, "and now we have three children—three, two, and one."
Astonished, I interrupted her. "Honey, you don’t have time to spend an hour in the Word each morning."
Retreat speakers aren’t supposed to say things like that, so I tried again: "Perhaps you could post Scriptures throughout the house to ponder as you go through your busy days."
She shook her head, so I scrambled for another idea. "What if you saw the care of your children as part of your daily worship of the Lord? As your little ones look to you in trust, that will be a reminder you are trusting your heavenly Father in the same way." I knew that was stretching the point, but she was desperate.
Tears were about to fall onto her cheeks. "But I want to be a godly woman like your grandmother," she said." And there’s no way she could have been that godly without spending at least an hour in the Word each day."
I smiled as I opened my arms to her. "Honey, I know she didn’t spend an hour in the Word each day. Mama Farley couldn’t read."
At that, the young, tired mother threw herself against my shoulder, sobbing in relief and suddenly encouraged about her daily schedule. The truth about my godly grandmother had freed her from a standard that was quite impossible for her to achieve at her difficult stage of life. And I like to think that truth also made her a more relaxed, fun-loving mother.
Have you ever tried maintaining an impossible standard?If so, what was behind your unrealistic expectations?
What helps you keep a balanced routine today? What improvements are you still trying to make?
How would you have answered this young mother’s concerns?
Glance #81: Don’t Quit Now! So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. (Hebrews 10:35-36).
The latest article was not going well. I needed fresh ideas, but everything my fingers produced seemed stale. Ah, Lord, whatever made me think I could write anyway? seemed to be my most persistent prayer.
Then in the middle of that sluggish Saturday morning, Holly arrived home from college and insisted we go horseback riding.
"Might as well," I muttered. "I’m not getting anything accomplished here."
Within the hour, we were at our favorite stable, but the docile horse I usually rode was already on the trail for the entire day. There was nothing to do but request the second most docile. Soon a large black horse was being led toward me. We eyed each other for a moment, and then I took the reins and led him to the mounting block. There, I placed my left foot in the stirrup and had just started to swing my right leg over the saddle when the horse decided he didn’t want me on his back. And he cleverly — and quickly — began to sidestep away from the block. There I was, one foot in the stirrup and the other poised in midair. Even back then I didn’t have the agility — nor the dainty figure — to shift my weight quickly and throw myself into the saddle. Instead, I was perched in midair for a long moment. The stable owner stood below me, arms in the air as though to catch me when I fell. There was only one convenient part of my anatomy to push, but he knew me well enough not to try that. So with arms waving, he hopped from foot to foot and yelled, "Don’t quit now, ma’am! Don’t quit now!"
Holly was bent forward in her own saddle, howling with laughter at the scene, so, of course, I started chuckling and then had an even tougher time hauling myself into position. But at last, I shoved my other foot into the stirrup, the horse gave a defeated snort, and I turned his head toward the trail.
Right then I knew the ride, even with its tenuous start, was exactly what I needed to finish my assignment. Besides, I had too much time and effort already invested in the project to abandon it. I whispered, "Thank you, Lord," and then, calling a robust "Don’t quit now!" I followed a still-laughing Holly up the trail.
Whenever I’m tempted to quit in the middle of an endeavor, I remind myself of that story — and the words of the stable owner. "Don’t quit now!" is a phrase we’d all do well to remember when times get tough.
When have you been tempted to abandon a project?
Have you ever been in a situation where no one else could put you "in the saddle?"
What advice do you have for others who want to quit?