(November 22, 2022) Robert McQuillan shares encouragingly…
There’s an old joke about ‘Joe’… he’s strolling along a cliff edge one dark night. Suddenly he slips and falls over hurtling down towards the ocean way below. Somehow he manages to grab a thinnish tree branch jutting out from the cliff side… but although his plunge is halted, that branch begins to loosen ever so slowly.
‘Help’ Joe yells, hoping that someone else is coming along the clifftop. No response and he calls again, louder and more panicky. Silence. The branch loosens more. Yet another ‘Help’ but weaker this time. In desperation Joe somehow screams, ‘Is anybody there?’ carelessly adding, ‘OMG!’
About to give into certain death, Joe hears a soft voice say gently, ‘Yes? I’m here, Joe. What can I do?’ and although he can’t see up over the clifftop, calls, ‘Help me… please!’
‘Okay, Joe’ hears. ‘Just let go and trust me. You’ll be okay. I’ll catch you, Joe.’ The endangered, bewildered Joe is amazed! How does this stranger know my name? Let go and he’ll catch me? He’s crazy… how could he possibly save me when he’s up there? Hesitantly he mutters, ‘Er… let go and you’ll catch me?’ The response is a quiet ‘Yes, Joe.’ The branch loosens further and Joe, panicking more, asks, ‘Who is that? I can’t see you!’
Astounded, Joe hears the soft voice reply, ‘Why, it’s me… God. You did call me, didn’t you, Joe? Now let go and I’ll catch you in my arms.’
Silence. More silence. Then really weakly now, Joe calls up, ‘Is anybody else there… ?
Feel like a Joe?
We live in dark days with so many uncertainties, bad news daily, increased crime, continuing covid cases, lack of employment, financial troubles, hacking, disastrous flooding, ‘toxic culture of sexism and racism’, Russia still attacking Ukraine, ‘world of the end preaching’ and more…
Living life on the cutting edge is a popular expression. Trouble is that it’s such a sharp edge in general, not only in politics and the business world but personally… finances, family life, marriages, and even the ministry. And there’s always the danger of falling off and getting hurt!
I know about some of these areas… to quote a well-known saying: Been there, done that, know the traps and pitfalls. Allow me to share some very simple principles that will help bring you through crunch times when things get tough and nobody seems to care.
Believe in yourself! After all, if you don’t, who will? How are you going to convey yourself and help others in these troubled dark times?
When Mr Churchill was called from exile to lead Britain to victory in WW2, he said, ‘I was called to this hour.’ Although he suffered from opposition and what he called ‘That dark dog’ – depression, Winnie hung in there and was the great encourager of heavy hearts during those terrible years.
Not highly educated? No matter… even if you’ve known failure, believe that you have God-given qualities and experience to help others. As an encourager, I humbly share about myself here… I didn’t have much education, neither high school, college or uni. But I simply give of myself to writing as my mentor God (that invisible helper top of the cliff!) enables me.
Recently an observer wrote encouraging me: ‘I know Midas had a golden touch… you could make a dyslexic shadow a Shakespeare.’ But I take no credit, I’m just a willing servant, believing in myself and knowing that it is the Holy Spirit enabling me!
Yes, you can call on the Holy Spirit to develop your faith and Christian growth (That’s part of His job description, being the great regenerator!), but you must concentrate on your current strengths without wasting too much time trying to change any weaknesses, even perceived incapacities.
Improve where you can, but find people to do what you’re not good at. If you really can’t handle something, find someone who can!
Example: I may be good at writing and have discovered ways of handling tricky WordPress upsets, but I’m hopeless at solving computer problems! So I call on good friend, Charles Schwab, who with his vast knowledge of computer matters, kindly helps me – rather ‘sorts me out!’ – repeatedly saving my bacon, especially recently when my laptop crashed and the manufacturer told me it was dead! Charles not only raised the laptop to life, but also the downhearted lonely me!
Know that you’re a person of value and significance! Yes, you can be humble about this, but the reality is that if you’re a Jesus follower, you’re a child of God and He intends you to achieve for Him and His kingdom!
So don’t give in to those condemning inner thoughts of limitations, comparing yourself with others, self-defeatism, failure, doubt, criticism (unless self-constructive), downers and negativity. We all achieve at different levels.
Remember: Success is unstable and emotional – and only relevant to the occasion! Life goes on and even the smallest cog is vital to the bigger wheels!
Stretch your mind and talents when you have to. When accepting the California governorship and asked if he believed he could handle it, Big Arnie mentioned his weightlifting days, commenting that he had amazed himself again and again in discovering he could push the weights a little higher than he had thought possible.
What weights are holding you back from believing in yourself and moving on? You never know what you can achieve until you try. So why settle for mundane things when you can possibly achieve great things? Stretching is healthy and leads to unexpected achievements. Run when others walk. Do it while others talk!
One hot summer’s day as I lay on a Warrnambool beach, I watched a little ant climbing up and over a ‘huge’ sandhill. Again and again it fell back and down off its ‘cliff face.’ But repeatedly it would push ‘its envelope’ and keep climbing. Determination won the day!
But, without disparaging what I’ve just said – never overdo anything! Always take those needed breaks.
Pause, reflect and consider them. Don’t dwell on negatives! Remember yet another old saying… When you hang around negative people whether old or even young, gloom-ridden executives or boards, the brush they’re tarred with will tar you too!
Consider your achievements to date and be thankful to God; then believe that you can still go further by pressing in! What? You’re feeling like that little ant at the moment, always falling back down again? Well, recall the words of that old song… ‘Pick yourself, shake yourself down and start all over again.’ The Holy Spirit has your back! He’s within you!
Remember what runner Eric Liddell said in Chariots of Fire: ‘And where does the power come from, to see the race to its end? From within.’ And ‘I believe God made me for a purpose, but He also made me fast!’ The missionary to China would suddenly do the unheard of… throw his head back as if praising God and run faster than others and reach the tape!
So you hit downtimes – well we all do, especially in the ministry when our old enemy attacks with lies and discouragements! But such need only be temporary. Don’t cremate yourself along with them. Be like that bird that rose again!
After the horrific 9/11 disaster, Mayor Rudy Giuliani declared,‘Tomorrow New York is going to be here. We’re going to rebuild, and we’re going to be stronger than we were before…’
Setbacks, even apparent disasters, are merely pauses to let you catch your breath, re-evaluate, vision a bigger picture, and strategise. So be like that bird above… rise high, think big in the midst of downers!
Walk away from pressure! ‘You’re joking,’ you say. ‘It’s all around me! How can I walk away? I’ll not only fall, I’ll fail!’
Now I don’t know you or your situ, so I can’t give an exact remedy. But I advise this: Do whatever it takes before you really crash. Believe me… you don’t want to go down that infamous avenue!
At any cost avoid extra stress, pressure, overload, panic that can lead to Breakdown Road! Then you’ll be capable of regrouping and fighting on to win!
I know what I do… I simply find a distraction. Even an old movie (yes, Maureen will say: ‘Not John Wayne again!’). Or I go for a walk around the block – the advice of an old boss that works!
And switch that computer off! In the old days when early church microphones would play up, the preacher would joking say, ‘Not another demon in this mic!’ Some troubled souls today think in terms of computer demons pressurising them! Cast such away… close up shop! Dare leave your desk.
Go out for a meal with your spouse. Talk to that darling, your life partner who knows you so well, cares so much and wants you to share everything! Seek other counsel. Do whatever… especially pray to your heavenly, caring Dad!
Relaxing at home is vital! Your health and family are more important than wasting yourself!
Go for the long haul. Working hard, achieving success: Planning and stretching forward are good but… stop thinking you must always work afterhours, answer the mobile (another demon?), carry the load 24 hours daily.
Don’t work to eat to sleep to work to eat to sleep to work to eat to sleep to…! Enjoy life – it’s very short. Take time out! Get away regularly with your beloved and kids while they’re still kids!
Find someone external to talk to. Seek out that wise, objective friend whom you can trust, who is outside of your church or workplace, even from a different field!
Don’t live with regrets about what you didn’t do or achieve – live for tomorrow not the past! Doesn’t matter where you haven’t been or what you haven’t done – it’s where you’re heading and going to do that counts! I often say this: Yesterday is gone, that’s why it’s called the past. Today is a gift from God, that’s why it’s called the present. Tomorrow is yet to be discovered, that’s why it’s called the future.
Find someone who understands you, and your goals, and can encourage you to dream big! Ensure it’s someone who himself (or herself) keeps on keeping on.
A Charlie Chan fan since childhood, l recall one of his wise sayings, from Docks of New Orleans (1948): ‘Who squanders today talking about yesterday’s triumphs, has nothing to boast of tomorrow.’
Be realistic! Encouragement from others and self-talk are great. But… what if it really is the end of the line for you where you’re currently at – occupation, abode, or, dare I add… ministry? What if God is wanting you to move on? Hmm?
Maybe what’s going on at present is God challenging you to get a fresh vision, see a new, even bigger picture. Would you even think about a sea change regarding job, or ministry if disaster weren’t staring you in the face? Huh? Probably not.
Maybe there’s a new opportunity to employ your learned skills, success track record, experiences and forge ahead into possibly something bigger than anything you’ve tackled before!
Again, talk to your spouse, close friend and mentor. Especially the Holy Spirit! I like John 16:13Mge, ‘When the Friend comes, the Spirit of the Truth, He will take you by the hand and guide you into all the truth there is.
Dare to let go, Joe!
Dr Robert McQuillan’s links: OnlinerConnect@gmail.com and Facebook
Excellent Robert. Loved the illustration, the encouragement and challenge of your meditation. I’ve sent it to my home church ‘leadership’ team for their encouragement.