Proverbs 24:10 Wise Words #24
Whether you are the stork or the frog, Never Give Up! Hard times come to everyone. You prove your strength in how you face them.
I wonder how the battle ended between the frog and stork. Did they both survive? Did they both die? Was there a clear victor? Or did they decide to call it a draw? Maybe they became friends afterwards. I know, this is probably a dumb thing to focus on, but it lends itself to our text today.
Those who easily fall (or faint) expose their frailty. Those who stand and let the storm rage around them show their strength. And those who stand and lean into the wind while holding fast to the Master’s hand show their strength and faith.
I’m going to go ahead and lay it out there; NO ONE wins every battle. Or should I say, NO MAN wins every battle. Also NO ONE is free from battles/adversity/lessons. They are what cause us to grow. If we had no challenges, we would have no reason to rise above where we are at the moment. But an overwhelming abundance of battles shows us our foundation’s strength.
During the Great Depression in the United States of America there were MANY people who killed themselves because of their financial losses. There were MANY MORE still who pulled up their socks and did whatever it took to make it through. It was a HARD time for everyone and it exposed where a person’s trust and faith was. Those who jumped to their death on “Black Thursday” and “Black Tuesday” did so because their foundation cracked. Their god was money. Some of those who ‘weathered the storm’ did so with great anger and resentment. They were full of blame for those who ‘caused’ their problems. They resorted to deceit, theft, and illegal activities to carry them through. There were also those who grew closer as a family. They pooled what they had and got creative. It wasn’t easy but they held fast to their foundation of family. And there were those who drew closer to the Lord. They ‘leaned into the wind’, determined to come out the other side with a clean heart. They didn’t have it any easier than any other person in that desperate time, but they had hope beyond what this world had to offer. They KNEW the One who provided for the sparrows and trusted Him to provide for them too.
We know that same God. We can still trust Him in the storms!
I had a MAJOR storm in my life. It was when my husband at the time told me, “I don’t want to be married to you anymore. I don’t love you and there’s nothing you can do about it.” The blow was slightly softened when my mom called me and told me what my husband had on his mind. She was able to see ‘the writing on the wall’ because she was typing his “book”. She also had heard him tell one of my brothers that what he was planning.
My children and I were separated from him out of necessity. Originally it was because the only work either of us could find kept us geographically separated. When he rejoined us for a winter layoff, he worked even harder on his book. I still didn’t see what was coming.
When spring came, my car died. Not just wouldn’t start but was kaput! It needed a complete engine overhaul. My husband wanted to have my dad come up, get the car, take it back, and work on it while we all stayed in the northern part of the state. I hadn’t seen my family in months and, since I had a week off, insisted that we go. We followed my dad in a beat up old station wagon that was given to my husband. My dad finished rebuilding my engine and we started for home in two working vehicles. We didn’t make it more than 100 miles before my car quit working. I had to be back at work the next day so my husband waited with my car and my children and I continued on in the old wagon.
It took two more times of a complete engine rebuild before my car was finally fixed. This took several weeks to accomplish. When my car was ready, he prepared to bring it to me and surprise me with his “announcement.”
The night before he arrived my mom called and shred his plan with me and what she had seen hidden in his book. I was angry, hurt, and frightened. I cried, I raged, and I sat in abject terror of what lay ahead. I had enough education to secure the job I currently had but it wasn’t enough to support my children and myself alone. And I firmly believed I would be doing it alone because of his family history. (My belief was NOT wrong).
When he arrived the next day with my car I had already made up my mind that this was NOT going to break me. Of course, I cried again as he gave me his speech. And I was angry too about what I had learned. When I’m hurting I have a tendency to use humor to disguise it so I asked him, “Can you go lay down in the driveway and let me run you over. It would be easier that way.” He refused, of course, and I wouldn’t have actually done it in the first place.
He left that day in the old wagon carrying all he wanted from our life together. OUR children and I were certainly not among those things. The following morning, I met with my supervisor and told him I would be leaving at the end of the school year so I could pursue an education that would support my children. He suggested a course and I grabbed onto it with both hands, both feet, and a few teeth!
I did EVERYTHING I could to prepare myself for collage entrance exams and acceptance to the course of study I wanted. I passed the tests but was too late for acceptance that year. My children and I moved into my parent’s home and I began plotting my course for our future.
After completing my first year of study, I prepared to move again to complete my education. Before we left, my mother told me how proud of me she was. I asked her why. She said, “Because you didn’t give up. You didn’t go on Welfare and let the government support you.” To me, that wasn’t even an option and I hadn’t even considered it. My response to her was “I don’t have a choice. I don’t know how to give up.”
My faith grew during that time as did my relationship with my parents. We were always close but this added a new depth to our relationship. They proved in physical and emotional ways that they would stand with me in the storm as much as possible. This is also the first time I saw the stork and frog picture. It became MY symbol. This is also when I first heard the song The Warrior is a Child, by Twila Paris. It became my promise and comfort.
I had MANY other battles where I saw no other choice that to ‘lean into the wind’ and push through. And I carried the most important learned in that battle with me into the rest; I couldn’t do it alone. It took MANY refresher courses along the way. But I have never forgotten the stork and frog or my the song that spoke so clearly of my heart and life. I didn’t know why ANYONE would be proud of me. My life was a mess and I was doing the only thing I could think of to do. “Don’t Give Up!” and come fall at His feet when I fall down.
Enough of this story. I want to talk about what else the Spirit spoke to me about in this verse. This verse speaks of raising our children and how we parent. It has to do with standing firm in your ‘word’ or ‘fainting’ every time your children bump up against your boundaries.
I might have had an easier time learning this lesson than others do because of how I was born and how my parents raised me. When I was born, I had a ‘stubborn streak’ that FILLED me from head to toe. I could have very easily run over the parents of today and been the ruler of the house by the age of two. But my parents taught me with FIRM boundaries.
- When mom says “no” it MEANS “No”. Not maybe, or if you beg me hard enough, I’ll change my answer.
- When mom gives you and answer DO NOT go ask dad hoping to get a different answer. Mom and dad supported each other’s decisions, even if they didn’t agree in the moment. Your FIRST answer was your LASTING answer.
- When you are told you will receive consequences if you misbehave, you WILL reap the reward or consequences for your behavior. If you do A your will receive B. Both positive and negative, but ALWAYS carried through.
I have followed these rules to the BEST of my abilities with my children. I added a few of my own rules along the way. (Ask me some day about “Duck Line” and “Crack Down Time”.) I have seen the results of ‘porous boundaries’. The children who have learned that “No” means, ask again in two minutes or after begging. Children learn that their parents ‘faint’ when pushed. A few tears, a bit of begging and the parent’s strength fails. The children take these lessons into their adult life and run into REAL problems. They also wind up in positions of authority and carry those same issues into the work environment. My “favorite” rendition of this is where a task is assigned, done, and then the person who completed it is told it wasn’t what was required/requested/assigned. I have a ‘friend’ who uses this regularly, even in creating ‘partnerships’ and business loans. NEVER go into business with this kind of person without EVERYTHING spelled out in black and white!
Sorry, off on a tangent. Bottom line, “Let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes’ and your ‘No’ be ‘No’.” If you aren’t sure, ask for time to think it through. Stand with strength in ALL challenges in life.
Father God, THANK YOU for my parents! Thank You for the example they set for me. I know there were probably a few exceptions made along the way, but we were told why and were fully aware that this was a ONE TIME DEAL.
Thank You for standing with me in EVERY storm. I would have been blown away if not for You holding me fast. It’s not even that I’m so good at holding onto Your hand than that You are THAT GOOD at holding onto me. I’m certain that You made me with foresight into the challenges that lay ahead in my life. You equipped me with the temperament to stand firm even before I knew this world. Now THAT’S a mind blower!!! YOU knit that stubborn streak into my character with purpose!