Read an Excerpt
Too Many Irons in the Fireand They're All Smoking
By Cynthia Bond Hopson
Abingdon PressCopyright © 2008 The United Methodist Publishing House
All right reserved.
Chapter OneIf life gives you lemons, squeeze the li'l suckers and let 'em know who's boss. —Author
1. If You're Going Through Hell, Keep On Going.
Scripture: Jeremiah 29:10-14; Job 1:1–2:10
Something about adversity must prompt people to say things that get repeated often enough to become clichés. Things like "Your attitude determines your altitude," "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade," "You can choose to get bitter or better"—the list goes on. I've even helped move some of them to superstar status. But as I thought about life's lemons and "showing the li'l suckers who's boss," images of my mother whipping my butt popped up.
I grew up in an era where spankings were not just expected, they were given often and heartily (seemingly with glee, but for my own good, of course). The spankings made me cry, but my mother kept whipping to make me stop crying. If I didn't cry, she'd go into the "Oh, so you're not gonna cry?" mode and whip some more, because crying must've signaled submission and not crying signaled defiance—I don't know. I finally concluded that I was going to get punished, but I could decide how I took it—with dignity, standing tall and crying just enough, or kicking and scrambling to avoid the licks.
Life is like that too. There's going to be rain—nobody knows how much or how often, but expect it. Heartache and pain and things we can't pronounce are real—you name it and there's a picture of somebody we know beside it in the dictionary. We can be taken under if we're not firmly grounded in our faith, and then it's still tough. Sometimes gathering the strength and fortitude to stand takes more courage than actually waging the battle, so we must first decide if we're going to live to fight another day or if we're going to waste energy on distractions.
And distractions are an energy buster—look at Job. Satan knew that Job's heart belonged to God and nothing would change that, but he figured if he hit Job in the gut—if he took his stuff and his family—that would break him. Here's the beautiful part of the story—the more Satan attacked him, the more Job depended on God. He knew the storm was a test, and not only had he studied for the test, he knew that with God's help he'd pass it with flying colors. Like I often say, God wanted to give Job something to shout about.
Talking about tests and testimonies brings Mrs. Callie Sue Graves Brown immediately to mind. When I was growing up, she and her husband of sixty-six years, Mr. Buster, were our neighbors and were like an extra set of parents. They still are. Whenever and wherever you see Miss Callie Sue, she has a word from God for you. I believe she knows the whole Bible, because she doesn't just quote the Scriptures, she lives them. One day I got a call that the two of them had been in a terrible automobile accident, and I went to the hospital to see Miss Callie Sue. She had taken the brunt of the injuries, her body was battered and broken, and she could hardly see, but she was praising the Lord that things were as well as they were. Her words that day inspire me still: "If I praise him when I'm up, you know I'm going to praise him when I'm down."
Yes, ma'am, I know and I'm telling you that whether we are up or down, God will be there, helping us, carrying us, pushing us, loving us, and that's a darn fine reason to shout today. The moral of this lesson is don't give up; help is on the way. It sounds terribly trite, but know that God loves you. A song by Rodney Atkins offers words of encouragement: "If you're going through hell, keep on going.... You might get out before the devil even knows you're there."
That's what I'm counting on—living triumphantly.
Thank you, Lord, for keeping me close and helping me weather the storms. Whether it's rainy or sunny or somewhere in between, I will praise you. Amen.
Excerpted from Too Many Irons in the Fire by Cynthia Bond Hopson Copyright © 2008 by The United Methodist Publishing House. Excerpted by permission of Abingdon Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.