No Victory Without a Struggle
Who else can join me in saying I am happy and thankful to look back over my life with joy and anticipation about what the future holds? It will not be in the realm of our world situation. That is changing every day and we will only see uncertainty if we try to count on tomorrow. But today I feel as though I am looking down from the tip of K2, the famous mountain in the Himalayas. We could see its tip when we lived in Pakistan. I am remembering the Persian New Year celebration, the Vernal Equinox, the Jewish history of Iran where I taught in an International School. I am feeling the warm sand brushing my flip flops as I walked across the desert in the UAE.
My life took on all those changes when I chose to follow Christ. For my birthday celebration in February my pastor son and his wife had a display table recounting the ten decades of change, the 1920s, my birth decade, to the present, 2018. I have had the joy of seventy four years given to God for His will.
I am among those often discounted because they are “elderly” but the God of the Bible has given us a place with rights and privileges. I did not know what God had planned for me when I first began this walk of faith. I had the King James Version of the Bible to guide my path. I began to read about God’s promises to King David in the Psalms, “I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go. I will guide thee with My Eye” (Psalm 32:8.) I latched on, laid claim to the promises believing them mine because they express the character of God and His child. I am one of His children by faith in Christ.
I uncovered God’s words to Jeremiah about His people Israel when I read, “I know the thoughts I think toward you, thoughts of peace and not of evil to give you an expected end…” (29:11.) I dared to believe I could trust God. I was a self-willed child who became His captive, wanting to be obedient to His calling. The NASV translates this verse, “For I know the plans I have for you” declares the Lord, “plans for welfare and not calamity to give you a future and a hope.” The NIV Student Bible’s translation says “plans to prosper you and not harm you.” Both are true, good, but had I read that translation in my early years, it might have left me thinking of material prosperity, maybe even with worldly goods. I am thankful I have always had enough but no great excess.
I soon found walking the path God was laying out would not always be easy or clear. A blind man has to depend on a guide. So it was with my faith in Christ. I often had to wait for light. My Shepherd has led me in paths not unlike those He Himself set as a pattern when he trod the earth. When the sheep follow the shepherd, they will travel uphill and down, experience the thorns of the bushes, the cuts in their feet, the desire for a cool drink, the need for rest. They must learn to trust the shepherd. My Shepherd who had come from Heaven’s glory walked in paths of sadness and rejection while He was on earth. He was misunderstood. In human form like us, He faced some terrible tragic moments of a human’s life. One of His last promises was “I will not leave you comfortless, I will come to you…” He is willing to walk beside us.
I met with a metaphor this week which describes what I have felt. Several years ago I had a small circle of earth in my front lawn with a clematis vine in the center, tulips around it. It could not withstand the stormy winds, was often blown over. I decided to get rid of the circle. I dug up the vine and replanted the bulbs. I thought I had gotten all of them but each year a few tulip leaves would show up and be removed by the mower. We had an early Spring this year. I saw two leaves popping out. They had struggled to stay alive, unable to grow and bloom. I decided to dig them out and give them a new chance to grow and bloom, sometime in the future.
The incident tells my story. My children had a big 90th birthday party for me in February, over 150 attendees. I am very thankful to still be active, but I learned long ago there is never a victory without a struggle. My Christian life has sometimes been blown over by a strong wind and I was cut down. It was then God took me out of the darkness of earth where I was not able to grow as He planned and replanted me so I could bloom for His glory. For that I give Him praise from my whole heart.
I am still loving the ministry God has given me, writing, teaching a Sunday School Class and a Bible study with the elderly in a residential facility and visiting in a rehab facility, gardening, visitation and helping by prayer.
Myrtle Virginia Thompson, Ret. Missionary, TEAM, Wheaton, IL, 1950-’89, Pakistan, Iran, the UAE and the USA.