The mighty redwood tree stands tall in the midst of all that nature can place against it--fire, wind, and torrential rains. In much the same way, when life hands us more than we can bear, circumstances overwhelm us, or we are tempted to make the safe choice rather than the right choice, God gives us the opportunity to stand firm. As you discover God's truth for your life, you'll develop the courage to stand firm upon the grace and mercy of God, no matter what other people think. You'll learn how to live your life--even if it's not the life you would have chosen for yourself--without explanation, without apology. When life is difficult, stand firm. When relationships crumble, stand firm. When heartache comes, stand firm. Donna Partow takes you on a journey into the riches of God's grace and the ways in which it can give you the strength to carry on. Poignantly written and amazingly transparent, these pages will challenge your spirit and touch your emotions.
About the Author
Donna Partow is a bestselling author and Christian communicator with a compelling testimony of God's transforming power, making her a popular guest on more than two hundred radio and TV shows, including Focus on the Family. Donna's honesty and vulnerability speak to women who have broken dreams and less-than-perfect lives.
As Donna says, "I'm on the planet for one reason: to demonstrate that God has absolutely no standards--he'll take anybody in. If you are willing to turn your life over to God, no matter what a mess you've made, he will astound a watching world with what he can do!"
Her books have sold a half million copies worldwide and have been translated (in part or in whole) into numerous languages. She is also a regular speaker for women's groups and retreats. Donna and her family live near Phoenix, Arizona.
Read an Excerpt
Fluorescent Pink T-shirts
But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. -Hebrews 11:6 (NKJV)
I want you to imagine that you're standing in a crowded room, wearing a fluorescent pink T-shirt. I want you to imagine that your five-year-old daughter made it for you as a Mother's Day gift by dipping her hands in silver glitter and pressing them firmly upon the front of the shirt. She then took fabric paint and scrawled her autograph below the handprints. This T-shirt is one of a kind. It may not be fashionable, it may not be elegant, but it's yours. And there will never be another quite like it, anywhere in the world. You wouldn't dream of trading it in, even if you could.
Now I want you to imagine your sister walking up to you and saying, "I can't believe you are wearing that ridiculous black thing. It's completely inappropriate."
You point out to her, "It's pink. And what's so inappropriate about a T-shirt?"
Your sister shakes her head in frustration and snaps, "Whatever you say," as she storms off. You're left scratching your head, puzzled. You walk over to your mom and mention your sister's unusual comment. Your mom also gets upset. "Your sister is trying to help you. Maybe you should listen for once in your life." And she storms off, too. Now you're seriously confused.
Then a neighbor waves to you from across the room. What a relief! It's good to see someone normal, unlike your off-the-wall family. But when you approach, she doesn't seem pleased. She addresses you harshly, "I can't believe you came out in public dressed like that. You're making a spectacle of yourself, walking around in a bikini top. I'm extremely disappointed in you."
"But it's not a bikini. Look at it. It's just a T-shirt. It's a fluorescent pink T-shirt. My daughter made it for me." As you desperately try to explain yourself, your pastor walks over and solemnly declares, "I hope you realize that you have destroyed your testimony for Christ."
For a moment, you begin to wonder if they're right. Maybe you're not wearing a pink T-shirt with your daughter's handprints on the front. Maybe you're wearing a black bikini top. You run to the bathroom and stare in the mirror. No doubt about it. It's a pink fluorescent T-shirt.
You return to the room, only to find that a large crowd has gathered, all of them expressing their shock and outrage over your black bikini.
How would you respond?
Would you argue with them?
Would you walk out?
Would they be able to convince you to surrender what you knew to be true?
Or could you stand firm in their midst, quietly confident of the truth?
This is a book about fluorescent pink T-shirts. It's about having the courage to believe the truth, even when everyone around you says you are wrong. It's about proudly wearing the unique T-shirt God has given you, the one with his handprints and his signature scrawled across the front. It's about declaring with quiet confidence: "This is the T-shirt I'm wearing because this is the T-shirt God custom-made for me. It may not be fashionable. It may not be elegant. But it's mine. God gave it to me. And I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world."
It's about living the life God has handed you, without explanation, without apology.
It's about Standing Firm.
These are the lessons God has spent the last year teaching me. They are the lessons I'd like to share with you over the coming weeks. This book is the fourth in a series of "ten-week journeys" I have written. The others were Becoming A Vessel God Can Use, Walking in Total God-Confidence, and Living in Absolute Freedom. People often ask if they have to do the studies in the order I wrote them. Not necessarily. If you've picked up this book without having read the others, I'm confident you will benefit by it. But I do believe those of you who have traveled through some of the previous books will find it particularly meaningful.
I've been deeply touched by the thousands of e-mails and letters I have received from all over the world in response to my previous writing. Many people wrote that when they finished my last book, they cried, because they felt like they were saying good-bye to an old friend. Well, in writing this latest book, I honestly feel like I'm saying "hello again" to my old friends.
Many readers have observed that I write from a broken heart, and that God uses my brokenness to heal the brokenhearted. Never has that been more true than on the pages of this book. I think you will find this to be my most personal, my most passionate writing to date. As you turn the pages, I hope you'll laugh; I know you'll cry. My prayer is that through it all, you'll grow closer to the heart of God.
The other frequent comment I hear, and this one blows me away, is that God speaks to people very personally, very directly, through my books. When they read each day's lesson, they don't hear me, they hear God. I can't imagine why the God of the universe would choose to work through my writing in such a way. It's certainly not because of my literary brilliance or the profundity of my stories. You'll find that my writing style is very down-to-earth; my stories are simple tales from my everyday life. Most of the lessons I share were learned the hard way: by falling down. I'm only learning how to stand firm after having mastered the art of stumbling.
Along the way, I've realized that discovering a new truth is one thing; working that truth into your daily life is quite another. Discovery doesn't automatically lead to transformation. You can read a hundred books, but if you don't apply what you are supposedly learning, what's the point? I assume you've decided to tackle this study because you long for transformation. I've got good news. This can be an absolutely life-changing experience for you. Or it can be just another book sitting on your shelf. The choice is yours.
Let's assume you choose the life-changing path. What will that involve? First, you must do more than read the book; you must prayerfully work through it. That means taking it slow, one day at a time, thoughtfully answering every question. It means reading with a highlighter in your hand, memorizing the Scripture verses, and frequently reviewing the key points from each week. (To make this easier, you'll find perforated cards with the verses and key points in the back of the book. Carry them with you wherever you go.) Also, take time each week to complete the Weekly Review.
Second, share the truths you are learning. The simplest way to do this is to join others who are on the same journey, so you can gather once a week to discuss the lesson. This can be done as a weekly women's Bible study, or you can get together with a friend or two. I've heard from many people who are doing it via the Internet and still others who are doing it as a husband-wife or mother-daughter team. I just hung up the phone from talking with a sixty-three-year-old Indiana woman who is leading her daughter and two daughters-in-law through Living in Absolute Freedom. They've done all three studies and have pledged to tackle this one as soon as it comes out! Even if you are not working through the study with someone, you can share the truths during informal conversation with family and friends.
Finally, make a firm commitment to stay the course, to stand firm until the end. My prayer is that by the time you've completed the study, you will be able to say, as you reflect upon the life you've lived and consider the road ahead, "This is the journey I am on ... because this is the journey I am on."
It may not be the journey you would have chosen for yourself, but because it is the journey God has chosen for you, you will embrace it.
At the heart of that embrace is a determination to seek God first. Recently, I was speaking at a conference alongside of singer-songwriter Jamie Owens-Collins, perhaps best known for penning "The Battle Belongs to the Lord." Jamie shared a word in due season when she pointed out Hebrews 11:6, noting that God IS a rewarder of those who diligently seek him. It's who he IS. It's not just something he does. And sometimes he doesn't do. It is his very nature to be a rewarder of those who diligently seek him. He cannot NOT reward a diligent seeker. The reward may not be a new car! Or even a perfect life. But as the Lord pointed out to Abraham after he had survived a very tough battle, "I am your shield, your very great reward" (Genesis 15:1).
That's why I am absolutely confident that God will reward your efforts as you diligently seek him through the pages of this book. So stay the course. Stand firm. God will reward you for it.
Stand at the Crossroads and Look
1. What has motivated you to begin this journey?
2. Express your hopes for the upcoming ten-week journey. Describe where you want to beemotionally, spiritually, relationally, and physicallyten weeks from now. What changes do you hope to see in your life by the time you've completed Standing Firm?
3. Write out a prayer committing yourself to finish what you've started.
4. What key lesson did you glean from today's study?
Truths to Stand Upon
- Standing firm means believing the truth, even when no one else around you does.
- Standing firm means living the life God has handed you, without explanation, without apology.
- We often learn how to stand firm only after mastering the art of stumbling.
Standing Firm by Donna Partow
Copyright © 2001, Donna Partow
Published by Bethany House Publishers
Used by permission. Unauthorized duplication prohibited.