Remember watching Saturday morning cartoons or some adventure movie and there would be a scene with characters on a rope bridge stretched across a ravine? The characters were being chased or escaping bad guys - all of a sudden the camera would focus on the rope. The rope would be stretched and taut, the characters would look over their shoulder to see the enemy coming or they would look down at their fate then back to the rope which would begin to snap slowly. The scene would feel like forever as the rope strands would give way one by one. Depending on the show the characters would narrowly escape or that rope would finally unravel completely and someone would fall into the abyss.
Do you ever have that feeling of unraveling in your life? You might be running from something or someone or trying to change a situation but no matter what you do it's just like that movie...the music gets a little more intense and the camera switches between your ever growing eyes and that rope that's beginning to snap bit by bit. You might be watching your finances and feel like it's all about to give way if you get one more unexpected bill or maybe it's your health - one more diagnosis after another. It's not the feeling of piling on anymore it's the feeling of giving way. Sometimes I don't know what's worse, the feeling of things heaped all on top of us or the feeling the bottom is going to drop out.
Unraveling usually takes some time. Rope sustains some wear and tear - they don't just give way in an instant. It often takes years of wear and tear and pulling and tugging to damage that strong cord. Even our favorite scarves or sweaters will unravel. Often it's a small hole that goes unnoticed but after lots of wearing and washing that hole widens and eventually we have to give up the comfort of our favorite thing.
Lately, I've experienced unraveling. For a while, I felt like I was watching from a distance, glued to a screen and helpless. Some situations felt totally out of reach and I felt powerless to affect anything or anyone. It's a dire feeling that causes the stomach to burn, the brain to race and fear to creep up inside. How can you sleep at night when it's all unraveling - when you're waiting for the snap and the plunge?
The problem is losing sight of God in these moments and forgetting His promises. It all sounds very trite but at the core of my own recent struggles I was neglecting His word and promises to care for me and my family, that He loves me regardless of my failings, and that He longed to blessed and care for me. This is no prosperity Gospel, the rough times are bound to come - He simply promises to hold on to us as the rope gives way a bit.
A few truths I have personally encountered in living, vivid color lately are these:
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
Sometimes our life is coming apart because of something we have done wrong. It doesn't have to be a huge sin but possibly a little white lie or stepping off course in a slight manner...sit back and examine yourself, ask God to show you if you have a role in the trials of our life. Often we see ourselves as victims instead of participating in the mess. Once you know where you've messed up - tell a trusted friend, don't just tell God. There's power in confession - the out loud, ugly cry kind. Let that person hear you and then let them pray over you. The second part of that verse is as important as the first. I recently had a very sweet woman pray over me and it was life changing.
And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
Just like the movies, we do better when we have a sidekick. Yes, there are the McGuyvers of the world who seem to handle everything fine on their own but the devil is really happy to get us alone. When we are alone, we are susceptible to the whispers of doubt, despair and self condemnation. Even better is when we join forces with Jesus, Himself and create that strong cord of three. Including God in our relationships will strengthen them and give them power to defeat our enemies. Depression and anxiety love alone-ness...be mindful and brave to seek company in times of trouble.
I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
I almost didn't include this verse because I often think it's been printed on too many coffee mugs and t shirts so it's become trite. But I have read it differently in the past few days with regard to this unraveling topic. Yes, we need to focus on the last half of the verse..."through him who strengthens" but what about the first three words? "I can do". This implies that we are to participate in the works of God. Instead of sitting back and passively watching the unraveling of a situation we, along with the strength and help from God, must act.
Just start - call the friend whom you offended and ask for forgiveness, make the counseling appointment, call the bank to ask for help with your finances, ask your spouse how you can love them better, tell someone of your pain...whatever it is that is unraveling, how can you take action?
God often works miracles on His own but many times in His word He uses and requires the participation of His people. We need to stop being so passive in life and step up with the confidence of prayer, the humility of confession, and the company of an all mighty God who promises to never leave us or forsake us.