Hanging In There

“In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” Isaiah 30:15



I want to share a true story I heard about several weeks ago. It’s a little long, but worth the read.



“This true story took place in Abilene, Kansas. A boy from Abilene had fallen while coming home from school. He skinned his left knee. It was really no more than a scratch. There wasn’t even a rip in his trousers. But by nighttime, his knee started to ache. Being thirteen years of age and the sturdy son of a frontiersman, he ignored it. While ignoring the pain, he knelt in his pajamas and said his prayers. Then he climbed into bed in the room where he and his brothers slept.



His leg was painful the next morning, but he still didn’t tell anyone. The farm kept the whole family busy. He was up before six in the morning to do his chores before school. And he had to be thorough about them or he would be sent back to do them over again, no matter what he had to miss —including meals. In their household, discipline was fair, but it was stern.



Well, two mornings later, the leg ached too badly for him to drag himself to the barn. That was Sunday, so he could remain behind while the rest of the family drove into town. He had finished his school homework, so he sat in the family rocker, comparing the three family Bibles. One was in German. It held all the records of the family’s births and deaths. Another was in Greek. That was his father’s proud possession. And, finally, the King James Version was shared by the mother and the sons.



One night this particular week it would be the boy’s turn to lead the family devotions. He could select his own passages from the Old and New Testaments and he could read them aloud and try to get a discussion going. Sometimes those discussions became exciting.



But now, the pain blurred his attention. He put aside the scriptures and dozed until his brothers returned from Sunday School. By the time dinner came along, he didn’t feel like going downstairs. All he felt like doing was climbing into bed. His foot was so swollen that his shoe had to be cut off.



Why in the world hadn’t he told somebody? His mother said, “Go, quick, and fetch the doctor!” His mother bathed the knee and the foot and applied poultices and wiped the boy’s sweating forehead with a moist, cool cloth.



She was an intense, vital woman. Confronted with this angry infection, her manner remained serene. You see, mom had nursed her brood through accidents and ailments from toothaches to scarlet fever. She had lost one son. But that only made her calmer and more determined when she had to fight for the others.



Old Doctor Conklin came in and examined the leg. He pursed his lips and said, “It’s not likely that we can save it.”



The boy sat up stiffly and said, “What does that mean?”



It means,” explained the doctor gently, “that if things get worse we’re going to have to amputate.”



“Not me,” stormed the boy. “I won’t have it. I would rather die than have my leg amputated.”



Well, the longer we wait, the more we’re going to have to cut off,” urged the doctor.



“Well, you won’t take any off of my leg,” the boy said as his voice broke
with an adolescent crack. His mother turned away as she was quite shaken.
But there was no weakness in the boy’s eyes that defied the doctor’s
reproachful gaze.



Doctor Conklin stormed out, nodding to the mother to follow him. As he stood in the hallway, explaining to both parents about what could and probably would happen, they could hear the boy calling for his brother.

“Ed, come up here Ed, will you?” Well, the brother stomped in and they all heard the sick lad’s voice, high pitched with pain, “If I go out of my head, Ed, don’t let them cut off my leg. Promise me, Ed. Promise.”



In a moment, Ed came out and stood outside the bedroom door. His arms were folded. It was quite clear that he was standing guard. He looked straight at Doctor Conklin and said, “Nobody is going to saw off that leg.”



“But Ed,” gasped the doctor, “you’ll be sorry.”



“Maybe so, doc,” said Ed quietly, “but I gave him my word.”



Nothing changed that. If Ed had not stood his ground, the father and mother might have yielded. They were not yet convinced that amputation was necessary. They were doubtful. But the steadfast attitude first of the sick boy and then of his brother was incredible. Defiance of parental authority was unheard of in this household. Yet, there was Ed standing at the bedroom door.



Guess we’ll wait and see how it looks by tonight, huh, doc?” said the father. Well, for two days and two nights, Ed stood guard, sleeping at the threshold. He did not even leave to eat. During this time, the fever mounted and the suffering boy babbled in torment. But the older brother showed no weakening of resolve, even though the discoloration of the swollen leg was creeping toward the pelvis, just as the doctor had predicted.



Ed remained quite firm because he had given his promise and because he shared the frontiersman’s horror at being less than physically perfect.

The parents knew that their son would never forgive an amputation. And Ed’s attitude continued to be decisive while the doctor visited time after time. Once, in a helpless rage, he shouted, “It’s murder. It’s absolute murder!” He told them that nothing but a miracle could save that boy now.



Romans 12:12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. (NIV)



Well, father, mother and thoughtful brother, Ed, shared the same thought. What they needed was a miracle. And as their anxious eyes turned from the doorway, they realized they had forgotten their faith in this process. Now, in this desperate hour, the three went to their knees at the bedside.



They prayed. They took turns relieving one another with the farm work so they could stay continually in prayer. During the second night, the other four brothers would kneel from time to time and join in the prayers.



The next morning, when the faithful old doctor stopped by again, his experienced eye saw a sign. The swelling was going down. Doctor Conklin closed his eyes and made a rusty prayer of his own—a prayer of thanksgiving. Then, after the boy dropped into a normal sleep, one member of the family after another knelt by him and kept the prayer vigil.



It was nightfall again, and the lamps were lighted when the boy opened his eyes. The swelling was way down now. And the discoloration had almost faded. In three weeks, pale and weak, but with eyes clear and voice strong, the boy could stand up.



And now let me finish the story with the rest of the facts. The boy’s full name was Ike Eisenhower. Ike Eisenhower was again ready to face life. The parents had prayed that their son would be saved for a great purpose.”



You know, there are particular people with courage and so much resolve, and we may wonder what in the world created that much courage and resolve. Maybe these particular people have been through some kind of night of darkness, a dark night of the soul type experience somewhere in their lives; and during this time, they have been able to keep their trust and faith in God. They have held on regardless of the situation with pure and unbelievable patience.



Now, think about what would’ve happened if patience had not been part of this story the ending, as you can imagine, would have been very different. There would be a young boy with just one leg; and that boy would not have been able to join the military and serve on the battlefront. He would never have become a famous general and then later the President of the United States of America. God’s patience held on; the patience the family found through prayer was what created that sense of calm, unwavering patience. What if patience didn’t come to play in that story? You know the ending would be quite different.



The trust we have within us toward God is what creates what we call God’s patience. At that point we are willing to turn to God and know and trust that his answer will come.



I’m sure we’ve all heard the saying, especially in this part of the world that is, “I want it all and I want it now.”



Why do we have to have it now? Let’s look at that motivation in our lives. Why does everything in our lives demand that we have to have it ALL right now? Because, bottom line, we truly don’t trust God enough to wait. We have to put more faith to work and to know that with God, everything is going to work out well. At that point, we know that we don’t have to have it “all right now.”



We, often, lack patience in good things, and we lack patience in bad things. Sometimes couples come to ministers, having marital difficulties. And often there just ready to hang it up, to give up. They’re thinking this way because giving up at that moment in time is easier than hanging in there. Hanging on requires patience and trust and vigilance. It just seems easier to give up. And sometimes, quitting your job or closing down your business is easier than holding on. Often people don’t have the patience that is grounded in hope, grounded in faith.



If they hold on, they are part of the people who make a difference in this world. Everyone you know of, every famous name I could talk about, has held on a little bit longer than the average person has. Why? Because they have faith in something bigger than themselves. You have to have this kind of powerful faith in God in this life. When you are laying there in bed, racked with pain, and the doctor is telling you that he’ll have to cut off your leg or you’re going to die, you have to have faith in something higher than yourself. Maybe the answer is amputation, and maybe it’s not. If you are patient, God will show you the way.



It could be that you will be guided to realize that the doctor is right. And if you are, that IS the way to proceed. But take time to go to God and ask the important questions. Take time to have that light of God flowing through you. You see, life is an unfolding process. We see people on one side of the spectrum who look at their lives and ask, “Is this all there is?” That’s impatience – impatience with themselves and impatience with God. You have to have the resolve that always knows that tomorrow is going to be better, that always knows that we have a big God who is bigger than ourselves and bigger than our temporary problems. And one step at a time, one phase at a time, we’re going to accept our good that comes to us in the degrees that it comes.



Someone once said something that is very brilliant. He said, “To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive.” You’re hoping for something in your life. You are either very patient, waiting for it to come and allowing the seed to grow, or you are just waiting for the moment when you will give up. Imagine the farmer in the fields with his arms crossed, saying, “Gee, I was here yesterday, and the day before, and there is still no stalk of corn.” So he digs up the seed and says, “This is all I’m ever going to have,” and he puts the seed in his mouth.



For God to work the miracle of the stalk of corn, or for the miracle of turning a relationship around, or for a business to prosper, sometimes it takes some time. We have to be willing for that perfection to come out from God. Now, as God inspires, it also comes out through us. It can’t come out if we’re all tensed up saying, “I want it. I want it NOW. Why isn’t it coming?” It’s like the farmer going out into the field and digging up the seed every five minutes to see if it has grown any. It would to stifle the whole process.



For something good to come to you, it’s going to have to come through you. And for it to come through you, you have to let go and let God and have all the wondrous activity work inside of your life. Our part in our human mind is to extract all the blessings and benefits that each step of life has for us. It’s not so much the destination of reaching our goal, but enjoying the journey on the way to our goal. We have to develop faith. We have to know that God is with us, working in our lives. We are not alone. We have to develop hope. And we have to develop patience that realizes that God works in perfect time, and that time is spiritual time that is much higher than our earthly time.



To look up and not down—is faith.



To look forward and not back—is hope.



We need to have faith in the presence of God with us every minute and a patience with God. We need to stop being so stiff inside our human will that we don’t let the power of the Divine work miracles.



1) We have to be patient with God.   2) We have to be patient with ourselves.



The second is a hard one. We can be patient with God, but we are always wishing to be different. We have to be patient, because God is not finished with any of us yet. You are continually unfolding, ever into a new and better creature. That is the Truth. It’s God’s Truth about everyone you know. Therefore, we have to be patient with others.



Emerson once said something that I love. He said, “Most of the shadows of this life were caused by standing in our own sunshine.”



I don’t know about you, but that’s true of my life. Whenever I don’t have light in my life, it’s because I’m standing between God and the light or sign that I want to have.



“Your mind is like a parachute. It functions only when it’s open.” You have to open your mind and be willing to have new ideas come through. You are not alone at any time. That is the first thing to realize.



Say to yourself right now as you sit there, “I am not alone. There is something bigger.  There is something I can’t see with my physical eyes, but it’s here and it’s working.  It is bringing to me all good. It never brings bad.”



You have to trust the light of God to lead you unerringly to your highest good. Then, step by step, through the activities and experiences of life, you are going to move closer to your ultimate goal, which is the full and complete expression of your spiritual nature which is going to make everything in your life sweeter, better, filled with more harmony and filled with more love.



We just have to be patient and trust.



God bless you.


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