Night Ride 

I was driving home the other night, when I noticed through the streetlights something moving across my windshield–eight little legs scurrying across from the INSIDE of my vehicle–every female’s horror. Needless to say, I had an unexpected little visitor…now I am by no means a spider expert, but this was not your typical black little jumping spider–this guy was big, brown and pacing his way back and forth trying to find a reasonable means of escape–right in my center vision.

I was suddenly caught in quite an icky predicament: stare too long at the road and I would start to lose sight of the whereabouts of my creepy crawler friend; but fix my gaze on his speedy little legs and I found myself swerving left and right over the street lane markers. It may sound silly, but my body switched to the “fight or flight mode”, and my keen internal survival instincts kicked in–as I also prayed that the stupid spider didn’t fall on my face as he began to propel from his web now rooted in the corner of my door frame. In that moment, as I watched him swing to and fro while the movement of the car jostled his suspension, I carefully cracked my side window as an attempt to “swing” him outside with the passing wind–either that or hint at the little fella–“hey man! Outside is this way!”

After a few minutes of repeatedly shifting my focus over from him to the road, then to the window, he finally managed to make his way close enough to the presented opening crevice and a gentle breeze swooped him out into the night air (probably more like on top of my car roof, but regardless at least he was outside.) In my sigh of relief, I realized that in those few moments, we were both essentially helpless to some extent. He was reliant on me to allow him the means of escape, and I was reliant on him to follow through with my lead. But it is also in perceived “helpless” moments such as these that we are also completely reliant on God. In that moment, I was challenged to balance my focus and remain calm to ensure safety and survival, for both myself and the frantic little spider. Not only did I have to think and act quickly, but I also had to take a risk, with hope that the proposed idea for both of our relief would all work out.

But even with the imagined possible horror of having the spider (potentially venomous/at least capable of biting) fall on top of me in the process, I took the chance knowing that if that were to happen, God would reveal to me the next course of action in due time. Very similar to life if you think about it…who would have thought that a little nighttime car ride excitement could actually teach me something about my own walk with God. Regardless of our current circumstances, He is always with us, and is capable of providing a solution to our current challenges if we trust to cling to him. And sometimes, when we devote too much of our time living in the future, he will send a little spider to run across our windshield, to remind us to pay attention to the present and to submit to His will each day.

My humbling little spidey experience taught me a very important lesson to walk away with (thank the Lord both scratch and spider-bite-free):

Don’t focus so much on the road ahead, that you fail to notice what’s right in front of you–or a spider may just end up falling right in your lap. Instead, keep your eyes lightly gazed upon the path ahead, while listening to God and trusting him with your present circumstances, holding fast to the faith in knowing that even in the occasional dim and confusing journeys, He will always lead you safely home.

Core Strength 

The past few days have been truly humbling, once again setting me in my place in this world of my creator. I was a little too ambitious in the gym on Friday, and ended up straining a lower abdominal muscle pretty severely. It scared me, and although the pain didn’t really begin until the next morning, all I could think was “great job, Amanda. You screwed yourself up again.” Sometimes we really do have to learn the hard way, which I have learned one too many times. But in this minor setback I was forced again to surrender control over something that I often take for granted–once again, something in the realm of fitness. Ironically, it was my core that was weak. My inner structure and support lacked strength and sustainable power. It wasn’t until I tried to perform everyday activities and common motions that I realized just how much I rely on my core strength for just about everything. This was enlightening to me, as I forced myself to sit up straight and had to overcompensate for my lack of stability, frustrated with my limitations and helpless control over my body. I actually even sat there with my small protruding swollen belly thinking “is this what it is like to be pregnant??” 
Yet in this frustration and temporary mood downer, I had to accept this new position of inconvenient vulnerability. I do believe that with our own free will we are prone to make mistakes. But God can still use our mistakes for good, and I couldn’t help but wonder if God was allowing me to get a taste of a rather functionally limited world. It really did alter my perspective again, as it did with my former marathon injury. It amazes me sometimes how quick we are to try and take matters into our own hands, to take risks which seem fine and dandy during the moment, only to remind us later of our own stupidity. Fallen, once again, due to our own pride, only to cry out in tears for forgiveness and healing, but all the while in strict reliance on our Savior.  

Even in these moments of misunderstanding, regret and hopelessness, God is still sovereign. I am glad to announce that my tummy is slowly returning to normal, but even if it had turned out to be permanent damage, I would have to be ok with that. God would have still found a way for a misfortunate circumstance to bring him glory, and that is essentially our sole purpose on this earth. It might not have been the exact state I had envisioned myself to glorify him in, but it’s not my plan that reigns–God has the ultimate say, and deserves to have the last laugh. I am honored to have his unshakable power inside of me, forever serving as my internal core strength. Even if I were never able to do another sit-up ever again, with God as my inner source of strength, my spirit would be unstoppable . I have to center my heart and mind on His will, and his alone. Remembering, of course, that every strength and ability is graciously given by him as a gift and not an entitlement. 

Little reminders like these aren’t always fun, but are definitely necessary. I have come a long way in my ability to let go of things that I’m not supposed to be gripping onto anymore, which has been a continuous lesson in my sanctification journey. Lately, I have really been making an effort to pause and listen, and to refocus on the here and now rather than always set my mind 2 steps ahead. Not to say preparation is a bad thing, but recently I have realized my tendency to jump forward into future tasks and plans rather than take the time to savor, appreciate and invest in the moment. I now am well aware of my my over-thinking and analyzing habits, and impulse to easily feel poured on by pressure. Knowing this, I daily pray for peace. When my mind and spirit is relaxed and content, fully and truly extending trust to God, my inner being is stable and secure. It has taken me a long time to let go of the tight grip I have always held on myself, and on my own high expectations. Through much struggle and defeat to try and race against time, through years of beating my body to the ground, holding myself to unbeatable standards and strict discipline, my exhausted soul is finally raising a white flag. Although I still have strong ambitions to be the best I can be, to fight strong, to hold my faith and stand bold in self-discipline, loyalty, honest effort and integrity, it is all now for a greater purpose–all for the Lord and his kingdom. I try so hard…so very hard…to figure everything out. To be what I believe to be acceptable, respected, and admired. When really, all that matters is that I work for Christ, out of his love. I am already acceptable in his book, I am already precious in his eyes. His grace covers everything…even all of my past and failed attempts, even my over-ambitious and naïve mistakes. He is my inner strength forever, although my flesh and my heart may fail.

 Funny how with any condition out of the “norm”, our bodies know deep down, how to survive. Instinctively when faced with any grueling circumstance, or inflicted with an injury, all our other parts kick in to pick up the slack. Priorities shift around, perspectives change, and other pieces contribute on a different scale. It may be difficult to learn, to accept, and grasp at first. We may stumble, or experience reoccurring pain here and there, but eventually our bodies adapt. We find an inner drive that keeps us going. Only a creator so genius like our God could have come up with a system so remarkable. He is my internal and external strength, forever worthy of praise.