Spiritual Rumination by Julia Phillips

Have you ever pulled into the post office only to discover there were no parking spots, except for handicapped spots? Or maybe stopped somewhere in Fairbanks, saw a spot, and quickly pull in—only to face a sign that read, “No Parking at Any Time”? I have. The last time it happened to me I immediately thought, “We need a sign like that to remind us not to park in a spiritual pothole in our own life.”

We all experience things in our lives that cause pain or disappointment. Those experiences can cause us to lose our vision, spiritual momentum, and even tempt us to want to just park it. It’s almost embarrassing to admit, but it can be the smallest of issues that serve as the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back.

 I decided to google the origin of that phrase. Here’s what it said. “The idiom “the straw that broke the camel’s back” describes a seemingly minor or routine action that causes an unpredictably large and sudden reaction, because of the cumulative effect of small actions.” That hit the nail on the head. Another google search sent me searching for this second idiom’s origin, “To describe exactly what is causing a situation or problem and being precisely correct of your finding.” What a perfect way to launch this weeks’ rumination.

God created us to be people who are always moving forward. The Apostle Paul is a great example of someone who kept going forward no matter how difficult or tempting it was to just “park it.” Even though Paul was sent by God Himself to go and spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ, he experienced a lot of opposition. Tragedy struck him by shipwreck, snake bite, prison time, and even abandonment by his friends, yet he never gave up and parked his ministry. If he had, we might not have seventy percent of the New Testament. If you or I park at the point of our frustrations or pain, everyone around us will miss out on what the Lord plans or planned to do through us.

Philippians 3:12-13, Paul spoke of missing the mark of perfection in his daily life in Christ, but he also said the one thing he did was let go of what was behind him and continue pressing toward his goal. When trouble hits us head on, moving forward isn’t always easy. It requires us to forget those things that have happened. It means no custom invitations to our pity party. It requires faith in a God who knows all and sees all. Even if you feel like you’re only moving an inch a day, never stop pressing forward. Those inches will add up to quite a distance if we refuse to park.

As God’s child, you are a new creature. Old things have passed away and behold all things have become new, 2 Corinthians 5:17. That is your new normal if you refuse to park at the point of your pain or perceived injustice. I’m sure you are all aware of the story of Abraham. Each one of us still benefits from his obedience. But what you might not know is that God had first asked Terah, Abraham’s father, to leave the Ur of Chaldees and go to the land of the unknown — Canaan the promised land. Terah began his journey, but when he arrived at a town called Haran, he decided to park and settle there. Maybe the way became too difficult. We don’t know. But what we do know is Terah died in Haran — he died where he parked. Abraham went all the way and was called the Father of Faith. God made a great nation through him. Even though there were times of great trials, he passed his tests and won his race.

It’s human nature. You and I will try and find a way around our difficulties. But we will keep moving around our spiritual parking lot until we finally get through them. They will remain in our vicinity until we have the courage to go through them and face them, believing God’s Word over what we see, feel, taste, or smell. Our minds can play tricks on us, but God will keep His Word always and forever. “But we do (strongly and earnestly) desire for each of you to show the same diligence and sincerity (all the way through) in realizing and enjoying the full assurance and development of (your) hope until the end.” Hebrews 6:11.

Don’t get stuck in a moment of time in your life. Refuse to ruminate upon the petty offenses that manifest as the final straws that will eventually cause you to overreact and bring ruin into your life. Life goes on. We can go with it or remain imprisoned by parking in our bitterness and pain. Paul encourages us to not draw back and shrink in fear. He told the Hebrews, who were suffering greatly, that by faith in Jesus Christ they would preserve their souls.

Don’t draw back, don’t shrink back in fear, don’t get stuck in a moment of time, and do not park when God warns us, “No Parking at Any Time” through His Words, His Spirit, and through His promises. It is never too late to put your life in reverse, leave that illegal parking spot behind you, and start moving forward once again. Fresh starts and new beginnings are God’s specialty. You may feel forgotten, cheated, or worn out, but God has not left or forsaken you.

“Do not remember the former things, or ponder the things of the past. Listen carefully, I am about to do a new thing, Now it will spring forth; will you not be aware of it? I will even open a road in the wilderness, rivers in the (your) desert.” Isaiah 43:18-19.

Ruminate on that.