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"We have to talk! I've been doing some thinking. There's no easy way to say this, so I will just come out and say it. I'm leaving! I've had enough, and I can't take it anymore. I'm leaving, and I'm taking the kids with me! There's nothing you can do or say that will change my mind. I'm just not happy anymore. It's for the best you'll see."
"Yes sir! They said you wanted to see me."
"Take a seat. You know that over the past year things have been a lot slower than years past. Word came from the top this morning that we must downsize. I'm sorry but your last day is the end of this month."
"But, but my wife-she's pregnant-and what about our new house?"
"I'm sorry, there's nothing I can do; it's beyond my control, but don't worry, it'll all work out. You'll see."
"Hi doc, you said you have something to show me!"
"Yes, your tests have come back, and they don't look good. There are several spots on your lungs. All tests indicate that you have cancer."
"How much time, Doc?"
"I give you maybe two months. I would suggest that you get all your affairs in order. I know this comes as a shock to you, but there's absolutely nothing else we can do. We will make you as comfortable as we can;you'll see."
"Who could be calling at this hour?"
"Ma'am, this is the highway patrol. Your son has been in an accident. We are on-"
"Is he all right? My son, is he all right?"
"I'm sorry, ma'am, we did all we could do. Could someone please come? We have your son's personal items, and we want to make sure you get them. I'm real sorry about this, ma'am. It will take time but eventually you'll be okay; you'll see."
"I hate you. I hate you both. You're the meanest parents a kid could ever have. All I want to do is go and spend some time with my friends, but no. You think you know them, but you really don't. I swear I can't wait to turn eighteen so I can move out. I'll show you, I will never come back. You'll see!"
"Obstacle," defined by Webster, is a barrier, hindrance, interruption, or obstruction. It disrupts your normal life, becoming an object of distraction, causing you to doubt yourself, interfering with your family, and at times leading you to believe that you are slowly losing ground on this walk called life. Often times you feel you are losing touch with reality. Sad to say, you may believe you are alone. But hold on my friend; you are not alone. You are not the only one who ever faced an obstacle so large that running away seemed to be the only way.
About three years ago a group of youth chaperones and I went on a mission trip; our goal was to minister to the homeless. We spent endless weeks of studying, preparing, and praying for God's will for this trip. But nothing really could have prepared us for what we were about to see. We arrived at the shelter, were briefed, and asked what we had expected to learn from this trip. I personally had one goal in mind-to meet the woman God had laid on my heart. He told me there would be a prostitute that would come, and my only goal was to tell her that He loved her. I should not leave her until she understood that He didn't care what she did yesterday, today, or tomorrow. He loved her unconditionally. He said, "If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there." (Ps. 139:8 NIV)
The days that followed were busy: supplying cloths to those in need, ministering to the children of those to whom God had called His own. Later that evening a major turning point happened for all of us. We visited a beautiful park in the area, getting there before dark and leaving as the sun went down to avoid the dangers that lay ahead. Loading back into the buses, we toured the inner city streets that many of the homeless called home. It was there that all the thoughts that had ever crossed my mind about people being homeless by their own choices or their own doing slowly vanished. Obstacles had put some of them where they were. Our guide told us a story that forever changed my attitude toward those whose obstacle diminished their desire to live because their burden was more than they could bear. My friend, God sent His son for you and me to live our lives to their fullest: "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it to the full." (John 10:10 NIV)
Everyone wants to be on top, but what happens when all of a sudden you fall off the top and reach rock bottom? What happens when you have everything and without warning it's gone? My perception of homelessness changed when our guide shared the following story with us. A doctor climbing the ladder of success had it all: a recent promotion, a beautiful wife, three kids, everything one man could ask for. Until tragedy hit and his life was forever changed. The doctor decided to go out and celebrate his recent promotion, but he neglected to call his wife and inform her of this decision. Hours later, his wife began to worry about his whereabouts. Unable to reach him, the doctor's wife loaded their three children in the car and began the journey to her husband's place of employment to see if perhaps his car had broken down. While she searched for her missing husband, her car was broad-sided by a drunk driver, killing the precious cargo inside-the three children and her.
This obstacle was too great for one man to handle, no matter how successful he might have been. The doctor lost everything-giving up his house, his promotion, his dignity-because he could not live his life with the thought of his family's deaths forever haunting him. On his arm, he wore a delicate picture of a vine cascading upward. The vine contained four roses, one for each of those he lost that unforgettable day. Unfortunately, when this once successful doctor looked at this beautiful piece of art, all he saw was a vine with four skulls on it. Death stole his reason for living, for going on. He began looking for the answers to his obstacle at the bottom of a bottle, all the while keeping the nights air off of him by covering himself with a box. He lost all desire to ever pick up the pieces and start again. How about you, my friend? Where are you looking for the answers to the obstacle that's found its way into your life?
I found the prostitute that God had laid on my heart months earlier. In confidence she shared with me that she had not bathed in three days. With a tear glistening in the corner of her eye, she told me she had two older children she had not seen in quite some time. Leaning forward, I reached for her, fulfilling that which God had asked me to do. I put my arms around her, and she began to weep uncontrollably as I told her that God loved her just as she was. Time seemed to stand still as she continued to cry, and tears ran down this once beautiful face, now aged from years of street living. Finally she released her grip, looked at me, and thanked me for the words that brought peace to her heart. If this is you, my beautiful lady, reading this book, His love for you still abounds. He is Soul'D Out in love with you, I promise.
As I laid my head down that night, many thoughts went through my mind, none as dear as the smile that covered my dear lady's face when she knew she was truly loved. My heart could not even fathom what obstacles had brought those among us to where they were, but I realized that no matter how great the obstacle that so often sets us back, there is One who understands, comprehends, and has also traveled down this same road before us. My friend, He wants you to know that He has already overcome these obstacles that constantly hold us bound: "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33 NIV)
I am about to share a story with you about an obstacle so large that the only way to overcome it was to go through it. It's a story so often told that we just seem to let it enter our mind and exit as quickly as it entered. It's the story of a man born to save the world from definite disaster. He made the ultimate sacrifice for every man, woman, and child. This, my friend, includes you! Hold on, your obstacle is about to be overcome by the One who overcame each of life's obstacles with you in mind. You'll see!
Ever hear a story about a hero? There were countless numbers of heroic stories told in the days and weeks that followed the tragedy of 9/11, stories that brought tears to many of us who watched the days unfold before our eyes. There were the stories about the firemen who ran into burning buildings to rescue people they never new, not hesitating a moment to take into account that they might never make it out alive. Police officers risked it all and entered buildings that they would never make it out of, yet along the way they helped someone else to safety. They forgot about their own lives to save others. Some say, "That's their job; they took an oath." Others believe that they were coerced to enter the burning buildings by their superiors. I personally believe that they did what they did because their life meant nothing unless they sacrificed it all.
We can read stories about heroes in books of all forms. Movies are made about them, and television thrives on documentaries of people who went above and beyond. Heroes come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. You may even know one, someone who has done the unthinkable, exquisitely showing bravery above the call of duty. Medals are placed on the chests of many of our finest heroes for defending the "land of the free and the home of the brave." Monuments have been erected to remember fallen heroes as an act of gratitude for a job well done and in recognition of the sacrifices they made. There are walls all around the world inscribed with the names of thousands of fallen heroes who died for a cause, a belief, a freedom, or a battle won.
What about the unsung heroes, the individuals who never receive recognition for their act of bravery? Their actions are overlooked, thought to be trivial, or seemed so ordinary that they weren't worth recognizing: the mother left behind in the face of a tragedy to raise children on her own, in a world set on disrupting anything that resembles a family; the school principal who has to pick up the pieces after a school shooting and face hundreds of angry faces unsure that he did everything he could to prevent such an evil act of violence; the widow terrified to go out at night because of the evils that lurk around every corner; the nurse who stopped to help, but all she could do was comfort as the last breath of life drained from the individual she held. How about you, ever do anything heroic in your life? Sometimes the simplest things in life can be the greatest act of heroism in the life of someone else.
Jesus Christ was himself a hero of astronomical proportions. He went beyond that which could be expected from any one being. However, He has received more criticism and caused more controversy than most people. Theologians try to dispel the fact that he ever existed, and for some unknown reason, the human race seems to remember Him only when the need arises. No one before Him or after Him has rightfully earned a hero's status equivalent to His, yet His only rewards were a forsaken kiss from a friend that would forever change His fate, a couple of nails, a wooden cross, an angry mob, and enough criticism to last until the end of time. "But Jesus said to him, 'Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?'" (Luke 22:48 New American Standard)
Jesus didn't come to be anyone's hero. He came to take away your obstacle, your doubts, and your reasons for giving up on life. Let's be honest, I really don't know what Jesus prayed that unforgettable night in the garden, before He was to change the world with one of the greatest acts of bravery ever known to man. But I do know that there was an obstacle of astronomical proportions before him, and He had every reason to run. Fear alone would have caused many of us to run, but not Him. See, He knew His time had come to fulfill His Father's plan for each and every one of us, and He already knew that without Him our destiny would end. Settling for the obstacle in front of Him was not an option. Suffering great anxiety over what awaited him would not and could not contain Him. Do I think that Jesus was in pain that night in the garden? Not physical as one would expect, but I believe He was mentally fighting a battle inside Himself. I often wonder if we knew the suffering He would have to endure whether we would continue on as He did or whether we would run to avoid those obstacles that may set us free. He never quit. He might have felt anguish that night, but there was a battle to be fought, and that battle began even before the kiss that eventually led to Jesus' demise and death: "And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling on the ground. (Luke 22:44 NIV)
Paul S. Taylor of Eden Communications explains the process of sweating blood, according to Dr. Frederic Zugive, a chief medical examiner. Permit me to help you have a better understanding of our Lords determination to stop at nothing to save the world, despite the obstacle. The clinical term for sweating blood is "hematohidrosis." Around the sweat glands, there are multiple blood vessels. Under pressure, the vessels constrict. As anxiety passes, the blood vessels dilate to the point of rupture. As the sweat glands produce sweat, they push blood to the surface, which causes drops of blood to mix with sweat. My only desire here is for you to fully comprehend that it was the love that Jesus Christ had for each of us that empowered Him to overcome the obstacle. He asked His Father if it was His will to take this obstacle away from Him. He surrendered everything to the mercy of His Father so that you and I could understand what unconditional love truly is. It's a love that knows only mercy and grace, and it was granted to each of us by our Heavenly Father through His beloved Son: "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me yet not my will, but yours be done." (Luke 22:42 NIV)
Can you fathom it? Not even our largest obstacle would have stopped Him from fulfilling His promise of setting us free? What reason do you have today for not releasing your obstacle to Him? Jesus has already given all and on your behalf. He already knew what you were going to have to endure. He already knew you would spend endless hours wondering why. He already knew you would shed enough tears to fill an alabaster vessel. That very night in the garden, Jesus surrendered His life for all those who are lost, all those who are hurting, all those who need to overcome the odds, and all those who need to know they're loved more than anything that life has to offer. "For God so loved the world He sent His only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life." (John 3:16 NIV) If God sent His son, for you to live life fully, why then are you allowing something or someone to drain you from that which God has promised you?
Just as I am telling you, God told His son. Your battle has been won; victory is yours. Reach up and take hold! The One who fought the good fight might have died that day on Calvary, but He rose to take the victory despite an endless attempt at keeping Him captive. Are you being held captive today by an obstacle that you're running away from instead of running through it? Stop running. The only way you can overcome the obstacle is to go through it. So take a deep breath, stop analyzing the situation, stop contemplating the consequences, and rise up. It's time you roll over your stone and take back what life has been draining from you. Want to do something heroic with your life? Live life as Christ intended you to. I can write the book, tell you how and what to do, but only you can rise up and take back what rightfully belongs to you. What are you waiting for?
Even on His cross-hung as if to humiliate-it was not written that a hero resided there. Jesus became a part of the status quo just by doing His job, not unlike the people mentioned above. We tend to over look the fact that this unsung hero went to His death so that you and I could live life to its fullest not to set the world into a controversial frenzy about His actions. Today is a good day to start living life as it was intended for you to live, no matter what circumstances may have come your way.
Excerpted from Soul'D Out by Brenda L. Boyd Copyright © 2009 by Brenda L. Boyd. Excerpted by permission.
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