My kids are growing up in South Africa right now, one of the compulsory languages they need to learn is Afrikaans. They have been ‘learning’ Afrikaans since the 1st grade but they are still unable to have a reasonably fluent conversation in Afrikaans and I have often asked them why.
Their general response is that they don’t understand the language, now that the trip to France looms ahead their interest has diminished even more and with that their Afrikaans grades. The interesting thing is that even though the next obvious step for them would be to start listening to the French programmes we have given them – none of that has happened, and all they are really able to do is ask for a cup of coffee with sugar in it!
- They have so much to do when they get home and their studies need time, French is just not a top priority
- They don’t feel like learning French – when they do have time they want to relax and spend time with friends or lazing in front of the TV
- It’s is difficult –the words are completely strange and foreign to them, the pronunciation is a tongue twister and the grammar is completely different to English
- It’s flipping frustrating learning a foreign language – and you sound reasonably idiotic trying (lol)
My reasons don’t differ much from theirs, I want to learn – I just run out of time and then when I do have the time I want to relax and the truth is it’s frustrating that I need to keep going over the same phrases over and over again to remember them. The other challenge is that Rob and I don’t have anyone to speak French to except each other and that in itself can be reasonably humourous or even dangerous!
How is it similar to the choices we make when tough things happen?
We do exactly the same things when we are faced with tough situations and obstacles and most importantly when we need to stretch our faith. We make hundreds of excuses:
- We don’t have time to focus on the issue so we pretend it isn’t there (don’t you just love denial!)
- We pretend it isn’t an issue and that everything will just work out in the end… mmm… have you ever been faced with the same situation more than once in your life?(These situations are called “le full circle issues you wouldn’t face so now they land on your doorstep every two years or so until you deal them”.)
Our reason for not moving forward a lot of the time or actually standing strong and facing the glaringly, difficult and over whelming situations in our lives is because it is painful.
It hurts to dig deep, it aches when we are completely honest with ourselves it causes a great deal of discomfort when we need to make choices to shift our thinking and behaviour. You know what… feel it!
Get to grips with the stuff that makes it sore – the truth of the matter is that it will only truly shift when you take it on with your eyes wide open. We walk around ignoring everything and anything that is mildly discomforting and uncomfortable and we pretend that we can just move on without dealing the rotund, pink, hairy walrus in the room. Baaaaarp – wrong!! That walrus can only move to greener pastures when you face him, when you acknowledge he is there and then get to grips with shifting the hairy guy out of your space.
When Goliath, the Philistine giant, was taunting the Israelites – it took a small, young boy with a few pebbles and a slingshot to face and kill the giant.
All the other great soldiers who were meant to be brave, courageous men of battle were too afraid, their first response was to step back and hope someone else would step forward.
They, I am assuming, were hoping someone would quickly deal with the situation so they could back to their tents and sit back with a relaxing glass of camel milk! So much easier and more comfortable than drawing their swords and getting a little sweaty.
David chose to face the giant, he walked forward with what he had – his sling, five pebbles and faith. I imagine that his heart was racing, that his palms were sweaty, his mind could have been filled with a thousand thoughts of what could possibly go wrong but he decided to put himself entirely in God’s hands. He could have walked away, he could have settled for being ruled over by a race of seriously large, bad tempered men, with the desperate hope that someday someone would step up and take the risk of being uncomfortable for a moment and actually deal with the hairy dudes hanging around the neighbourhood.
We could stay on ‘level 1 French’ all our lives, we could say hello (bonjour), ask for coffee (Je voudrais un café s’il vous plaît) or a sandwich and get from A to B and yes, we just could cope in Paris but for how long?
And is coping really what I want for my life? Definitely not, I want to grow, I want to be able to have a fluent, intelligent conversation with my French neighbour.
I am not about to settle for the basics in French – or anything else in for that matter.
I want to move forward, with insight, understanding and faith. I want to be able to believe for greater things tomorrow than I am believing for today. I want to see faith moving those proverbial mountains and for me to be able to see this happen I have to be okay with things getting uncomfortable here and there.
When things get uncomfortable, that is when we are forced to shift – it is only in those moments that we experience the need to make a change.
The comfort in all of this is that when we do make the conscious decision to grow, to stand for the dream we have, we know that we will never be the same again.
Choosing to be fluent in faith can only bring life and joy and victory if you see it through – it’s getting there where the challenge lies. The strain, effort, time, tears, disappointment and fear of walking that road can derail us or we can completely give up all together because it gets so hard.
I have been focusing on James 1 verse2 – 6 for the last week or so: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.”
I really have been feeling that despite how tough it is right now to believe for what we have been waiting for, for so long (oh so very long) – that we have to stand. Yes, we could give up and no-one would blame us. No one would look at us and say that was a bad decision.
We would most probably have a great deal of support – they would say, you guys waited so long, maybe it wasn’t meant to be or perhaps it is for another time or God was teaching you something in the waiting and now it is time for a new season.
NO! That would be giving into the enemy and giving up – something Rob and I have done before and something we are not doing this time around. We won’t do the detour again – oh no – this time around we are standing.
I am not going to be part of the wave tossed, beaten down population out there – and I speak from experience as I was there so many times before – this time we will stand firm, believe for that which we cannot see and put our faith feet forward.
We will ‘parlez francias’ and we will do so with flair. That is where that beautiful word perseverance comes into play – stand and keep standing – believe and keep believing, it can only produce fruit and fruit means growth and growth means moving to the next level and being able to trust for so much more.
So all those reading this today – whatever you are considering giving up on: the promise that you think was perhaps a figment of your imagination, the hope that you are thinking of ditching for something more tangible like your current disappointments, DON’T.
You can do it… I am.