Those who’ve fed on story books will know this very familiar line when a soldier overcomes his enemy and has him at his mercy, or is gaining an advantage over him. Sometimes Life’s like that. It overcomes us and has us at sword point (or gun point if you want to be modern), and we feel like everything’s out of control, and all that remains is the bitter, bitter choice – yield or die.
Over the last many weeks (and really months…or really years) of looking after old parents, managing classes, raising up an active child, working out our marriage, dealing with life, lesson planning, dealing with sickness, finishing corrections and grading assignments, the list goes on and on, my wife and I seem to have had more failures than successes in dealing with stress. It always seems to hold us by the throat and no matter how much we fight and flail, it’s grip seems to be made of iron. I wonder if you feel that way about life sometimes, especially if you are a teacher wearing the multiple hats that teachers wear!
And the familiar lines from the poem ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’ by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, ‘Theirs not to make reply, theirs not to question why, theirs but to do and die.’ bring very little comfort!
With the multiple difficulties involved in looking after and nursing my dad over the last three weeks, I’ve had the grace of God to be able to take everything to Him, and to keep giving the burden to Him again and again. To remember that Jesus paid the cost of all the burdens of life with His death on the cross. To be inspired by friends who have and are selflessly serving. And things began to change; with me, with my relationship with my parents, with my dad and with my mom, in fact with the family.
In my reflections today, I came across something an anonymous writer has written about yielding. ‘The only way is by learning to accept, day-by-day, the actual conditions and tests permitted by God, by a continually repeated laying down of our will and acceptance of His, as it is presented to us in the form of people with whom we have to live and work, and in the things that happened to us.’
Lydia and I were talking about handling situations that are challenging this morning. It seems we get little success in trying to fight off the feelings, resentments and petty emotions and frustrations, even the very real fatigue. But in the light of God’s wonderful, living presence, where He takes the burden off our shoulders, gives us supernatural strength and abundant grace, and changes our thinking and perspectives, breakthroughs begin to happen.
Yielding to God and dying to ourselves is a lifelong journey that is worth embarking on!