So, this is the bathroom I’ve been hearing about!
We’ve been remodeling the old house for months now. Soon, we’ll be living in the Lovely Lady’s childhood home. Our hard work is beginning to pay off and I think the place is looking pretty nice.
A few folks in the neighborhood have stopped by to see how the work is progressing. Everyone likes the bathroom.
Strange, isn’t it? They also like the other rooms we’ve worked on, but the bathroom is the one they exclaim about.
I like the bathroom, too. It’s turned out very nicely. All in all, a comfortable space.
I stood in the middle of that room earlier tonight as a neighbor expressed her surprise at how beautiful it is now and I had a moment. You know. One of those moments.
The kind of moment when you don’t know whether to laugh or cry. The realization hit me that we had actually finished it. There was elation in that moment.
Done! It’s done.
There was another emotion in play, as well. I am reluctant to speak of it.
Really, I am reluctant. I have sat, staring at the monitor for a long time, not sure I can write the words. But, I think it’s important, so I’ll give it a shot.
Do you know how it feels to stand, faced with a job you know—absolutely know—you are not up to, and yet recognize that you have no choice but to try?
Have you ever simply stood and looked at a task, thinking I can’t do this, for hours? Seriously. Hours.
I lay under that house one day, pipe wrench in hand, having once again failed in my task, screaming—Really. Screaming!—at the pipes above, and then at myself, and yes—at God for putting me in that situation.
Again and again, in the course of the work, I was paralyzed by failure and fear—certain I was at the end of my resources.
I was sure I could only fail. Absolutely and finally.
Two points, I want to make here. More will come to mind, but I’ll stop at two:
1) When we look only at the problem and refuse to look past it to the solution, we ensure failure. At least until we can change our focal point. There is always a solution. Always.
2) You’re never on your own in solving the problem. Whether it was guys who wanted to offer advice—marginally better, to my mind, than sitting and staring at the offensive piece while imagining complete and utter failure—or whether it was friends and family who actually could help with the physical work, there was always someone to help bear the burden.
I suppose the reader will understand if I make it clear I am not simply talking about a remodel on a house here. Sure, that has been my mountain to climb for the last few months, but it’s certainly not the only mountain there is.
Unclimbable, some of those mountains. A person might be tempted to sit and wonder how in the world God expects us to get over that gargantuan pile of rock and rubble—perhaps, never even attempting the ascent.
Some have suggested the mountain need not be attempted at all. Well? Didn’t Jesus teach His disciples they could tell the mountain to be moved from one place to another if they had faith the size of a mustard seed? (Matthew 17:20)
Leaving aside the fact I’m not sure I have that huge a faith (have you seen the size of a mustard seed???), I want to assure you we don’t get to remove the mountains God has put in front of us in that manner.
It’s a funny thing, but when God puts mountains in our way, it is to help us grow in faith. James says it’s a joy to have our faith tested, because it develops endurance. (James 1:2-4)
I’m not sure I would call it a joy. These last few months haven’t been a walk in the park.
That said, the mountain cannot—will not—be prayed away. God put it there for a reason. There is only one way to the other side. Over.
Now, when I look at the result (and, I’m still not only talking about that bathroom), there is joy in knowing what has been accomplished.
And shame. For my doubt. Fading, but still there.
Is the mountain in front of you bigger than you can conquer?
Good! You’ll be stronger when you get to the other side.
Ready for the next mountain still ahead. A mountain you don’t have the strength to conquer.
We’re still traveling.
Every mountain top is within reach if you just keep climbing.
(from Kilimanjaro and Beyond ~ Barry Finlay ~ Canadian author)
I look up to the mountains—
does my help come from there?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth!
The Lord keeps you from all harm
and watches over your life.
The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go,
both now and forever.
(Psalm 121: 1-2, 7-8 ~ NLT ~ Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.)
© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2017. All Rights Reserved.