Take a good look at this picture. What does it say to you? Does it seem silly, perhaps even a little bit trite? I hope you will pause and really look at this picture for a moment before reading on. Ask the Lord to reveal to you some truth about this photograph. Go ahead, it just might be the exercise you need to do right now!
I read a post from someone today that put my mind to remembering. I’m not sure where it all began, perhaps in the story I wrote about in Step Over the Fence. In what I want to share with you today the context is different from that example, but the theory is much the same.
There came that point in my life, somewhere in my 20’s, that I wanted to do something but my thought pattern automatically went to, “I can’t do that!” It was the moment when I dreamed a little and wanted something I currently didn’t have or hadn’t experienced yet. Why exactly my censor/flesh/thoughts seemed to automatically go to the place of can’t I’m not sure. But this was a thought pattern that was very, very familiar to me.
OK here’s where the above photograph comes in. See the opening way back there, the space where the arm has entered? I’m going to liken the thinking process of what I just described as that place, the spot where the idea first occurs to us. Now imagine with me that you leaned down and looked into that hole, wondering where it led. All kinds of thoughts might come into your mind: eeuuww, that’s a dark hole, or I wonder where that hole goes, or I’m not putting my arm in there because there might be spiders/snakes/scorpions in there (humor me, I live in the high desert!). Can you relate?
I have a cousin who, when we were kids, might have looked at this hole and it would have immediately represented the makings of an adventure, something that had to be conquered. I never looked at things quite like he did, but I’ll tell you something; when he decided to go on an adventure and his sister and I were invited along, we indeed found adventures galore. There were sometimes scary adventures (the time we were following the creek behind their rural property on a hiking adventure and kids on the other side decided to bombard us with rocks) and there were also exquisite quests that left us breathless from the daring thing we just pulled off (the time we dug a tunnel more than just a few feet and it didn’t cave in on us)!
Back to the hole in the photo above. Life is kind of like that hole. We look at something in our surrounding lives and make all kinds of assumptions, without much thinking about what we’re really saying about the situation. To a risk-taker like my cousin, this hole may provide a sense of adventure. If this hole is the only opening in an otherwise solid wall, the risk-taker sees a question: what lies on the other side and can I see it through this hole? My cousin would have stuck his arm right into that hole and I can imagine him giving that thumbs up signal once his hand reached the other side. To me, the wall appeared a barrier and the hole seemed a taunt, nothing more.
There came the day in my life that something shifted. I was working at a struggling-to-survive alcoholism treatment center. I was the bookkeeper and well aware of the financial state of the place. I knew we needed a rabbit pulled out of a hat. I was a brand new Christian, and Jesus Christ was wooing me to conquer fears; I didn’t know how to do this risk thing, but He was about to show me.
I thought one day, “we need a big name person to come and put on a benefit fundraiser for us. But who?” I labored over that until one night as I lay in bed reading a book by a well-known author, it came to me. Why can’t I ask this man, the author of the book, to come and do a benefit for us? My censor told me, “no way girl! You can’t do that. It’s impossible, and he will think you’re nuts if you ask.” But then something very foreign, a timid form of wisdom spoke through my thick wall of objections and the place at the other end of the tube, called to me in a whisper, ever so softly: “You can certainly ask because you know what? What’s the worst thing that can happen?” And I had to answer that question. The worst thing that might happen? He might say no. And then I had to ask the question, “if he says no, will my world end?” Of course it wouldn’t. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. And that was the point it all changed. That was in 1977 and I still have a copy of the letter I sent to this famous author. (By the way, he said no!)
I’ve applied that truth to oh so many seeming obstacles in my life and do you know what I’ve found? In most instances, I experienced the surprising success that I thought impossible! I came away from so many situations, shaking my head in disbelief at the ease in which the solid wall of the impossible came tumbling down, right before my eyes. I got jobs I never thought I’d qualify for. I was able to try things that my experience certainly didn’t add up to. My husband and I held a rock concert we thought impossible with a well-known performer. Successes went on and on but I always had to go through the process of asking. It was absolutely a case of stick-your-arm-into-the-hole and WA-LAA! There was a freedom waiting on the other side of no way — YES!
So go through the process today and see what happens! Go ahead and ask. The worst they can say is no. And your world will go on. I promise!
Thanks Linda! Just what I need this moment. I was facing one challenge and am just about to choose a second one in combination with the first one. I’ve said ‘no’ for years!
Blessings on you Lisa as you proceed into the challenge. I pray God will show up in the middle of this thing and bring you right on through! Thanks for the read…
A good word of encouragement to try what we call the impossibilities of our lives… thanks Linda
The challenge of this YES is now culminating in a triple blessing. My book has gone to the publisher. In a few days we will travel to the other two. All are results of the one three-letter word YES..
I am THRILLED Lisa! What an accomplishment! You set out to do it and…it’s done! Congratulations! Many blessings as you savor the wonder of what you’ve just accomplished…by saying YES! Love it. Thank you so much for sharing!
Thanks. Your blog is often a timely encouragement.
I searched for your blog from four years ago. Much has happened since then – after your words encouraged me to say YES! (to travel to Thailand to celebrate the 40th anniversary of our Children’s Home. My RA had been a hinder for travel for years).
The biggest miracle is, instead of being shut down completely, our Children’s Home is flourishing under new leadership. Had I said “no,” the situation might be quite different. God placed me in the right place at the right time, to meet the right person who could step in a year later when we received a message that the Home and two other projects would close. We did not even know at the time a crisis was looming. God reminded me of that meeting and a series of miracles followed. We are amazed at what God is doing.
Lisa, once again you’ve blessed me in a most timely moment! As I said in my post from the other day, I’ve been feeling swamped by life. There has been so much in the past three years…moments when I thought I wasn’t going to make it. And then God brought me to hear Graham’s words of wisdom. We each go through life, ups and downs, praying Papa God will send us a sign, that word of encouragement that will spark us to keep traveling the road. I’m so happy and encouraged I was that word for you four years ago. I’m so grateful and again, encouraged that you are that word for me today! Who knew, that two strangers, living half a world away from each other, would be used of God to help each other? Love you, dear sister! 💖
Only God can do that!