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Faith Bloopers | Christian Living

3 Tips to Overcoming Obstacles

Christina Walker

Thursday, June 04, 2015

If you have ever felt the odd combination of pure terror mixed with excitable passion for adventure, then I’m sure you can understand how I quickly my heart beat as I clung to the side of a wall 10’ above ground.  Despite being terrified of heights, my friend had convinced me to scale the 30 foot tall rock wall on campus in college.  Looking at the wall from the safe distance of a staircase, I didn’t think 30’ would be much of a problem.  So I harnessed up and tightened my shoe laces, determined to conquer my fear.  


The first 10’ were easy. I moved quickly from one tiny rock to the next, proud of my clearly superior degree of courage and sense of adventure. People actually struggled with this?? I should NOT have been so cocky. 


My friend called out, "Keep going, you're doing a great job!  Just don't look down!"  As with all advice, my first instinct was to do that which I was told not to do.  I looked down.


And nearly had a panic attack.


Clinging to a vertical wall only 10’ up, I suddenly felt like I was hanging off the edge of a massive cliff several hundred feet off the ground.  Goose bumps prickled down my arms as I felt Death’s cold breath against the back of my neck.  


Immediately my muscles tightened and I drew myself as close to the wall as I could.  My breathing became jagged and I felt dizzy.  Sweat instantly slickened my palms as they began to slip on the rocks.  It was time to quit.  I wanted down, and NOW!


“I can’t do this!  Get me down, I can’t get down!” I cried out to the instructor on the ground.  Before he could reply, my friend cried out, “Yes you can! Now get your butt moving!”


She didn’t understand.  I couldn’t move.  I was frozen and TERRIFIED of falling.  Falling meant death, and I was not capable of reaching the top without slipping off the wall.   Success was not an option.


I felt my eyes water up, terrified of how to crawl back down the wall.  Then my friend yelled up, “You’re OK, he’s got you.  You can’t fall, he’ll catch you.”


She was right.  I was strapped to a rope, and that meant I shouldn’t fall.  But what if something went wrong?  What if he didn’t catch me?  What if the rope snapped?


“Just take a deep breath and look for the next rock.”  I didn’t have to look at the whole next 20’ in front of me, just the next rock.  I could do that, maybe.  Taking one hand off the wall and wiping it against my clothes, I reached for an indent a foot up.  As I pushed off with one leg, my other found a foothold.  Slowly, MUCH more slowly than before, I inched my way for the next several feet.


About 7 feet from the top, I ran into a problem.  My arms and legs shook with exhaustion from holding my weight for so long.  My hands were still sweaty, and the rocks were becoming more distant.  But the biggest barrier was that the wall bulged out a couple feet.  To overcome the bulge I would have to hang upside down.  There was no question in my mind that I would not be able to support myself from that angle.  I desperately searched for a way around the bulge, but I could not reach the rocks that would guide me around.


The panic began to swell inside again.  I was really stuck now, and MUCH higher up.  My arms and legs were jello.  Had there been an earthquake, I probably wouldn’t have noticed because of how badly I was shaking.  In a last second of pure terror I realized I was slipping, and there was nothing I could do.  I screamed as I began to fall.


3 inches.


A cry of relief burst from my lungs as I swung in the air.  I WASN'T DEAD!  The instructor had caught me!  The harness and ropes were strong!  Thank you Jesus!!


The instructor called up to me, “You’re OK, I got you.  You’re doing great, you can reach the top.  Now, you’ve been holding all your own weight.  Don’t do that, put your weight into the harness.  Let the rope hold you.  All your arms and legs should do is pull you into the wall.”


Renewed with certainty that I would not die on this adventure, I caught the wall and swung into it.  Still trembling slightly with exhaustion and adrenaline, I allowed the harness to support me.  As I rounded over the bulge and scrambled up the last couple feet, a huge grin was stuck on my face.  For the first time, I was determined and positive that I would be successful!  


Elation consumed me as I hit the marker on the top and pushed off from the wall to slide back down the cliff face.  Laughing with freedom and drunk on my success, I bounced with joy for the rest of the night.


Now, you might be asking yourself, “Well that’s all fine and dandy, but what does it have to do with creating lasting change in living a Christian life?”  The answer is, surprisingly, a lot.  From this experience, I learned 3 important lessons when it comes to making successful, Eternal-lasting, GOD-fearing, Satan-CRUSHING, walk-on-water type changes in our lives. =)


1. Depend on God

In the beginning of creating change, we’re excited.  We’re determined and certain of our own success.  We believe in our own ability to make changes come alive.   We have no fear of failure.  


But once we realize we’ve been successful for a short while, we often begin to over think and panic.  We look down at the ground, at the place where we used to be before we implemented changes.  Suddenly we desire the safety and security of the old habits, but we’re also terrified of “falling.”  We become scared that we’re doomed to fail, that we have no possibility of success.  So where is our hope?


Let me tell you one thing that I know for certain.  If I did not have a harness, there is NO WAY I would have placed a single foot on that wall!  We are NOT a people that have no support.  We do NOT rely on our own strength and ability.  Instead, we are filled with the promise that Jesus will hold and catch us when we fall.  When, not if.  We will fall.  We will fail Him.  Repeatedly.  But He is there to catch us, and we must be able to trust in the certainty that He will be there.


By placing our weight on Him, by allowing Him to bear most our burden, we are much more capable of making each step successfully.  And when we do fall, we can’t remain dangling in the air.  In order to reach the goal, we have to accept that we fell and move on.  Try again.  


So in the midst of living for Christ, while making big or small lifestyle changes to reflect His will, make sure to place yourself in His care daily.  Pray each morning, “Father, I cannot do this on my own, yet I know that living a holy life is your will for me.  I place myself in you and depend upon your strength.  Please catch me when I fall, and give me the strength to keep going.  Thank you.”


"I have the strength to face all conditions

by the power that Christ gives me."  

Philippians 4:13 (GNT)

2. Take One Day at a Time

My friend was right.  “Look for the next rock.”  If a lifetime of living out God’s will doesn't scare you, then you must be SuperChristian or something!  Whenever making a big change in our lives, often we become overwhelmed looking at how much and for how long we must do something.  


In reality, though, we can’t do anything but look for the next rock.  When stressed and worried about climbing the entire wall, we become blinded to what’s in front of us.   We begin to believe that there is no hope for success.  But when we focus instead on the rock right in front of us, and on overcoming each step individually, the smaller challenges are much more doable.  


Take each day, or each hour, as it’s own challenge.  You don’t know God’s plans for the rest of your life, so don’t worry about them.  Worry about today alone.  Get through the challenge of today, knowing that you’ll get through tomorrow’s challenges tomorrow.  


Also remember that the challenges of each day pass once overcome.  Each foot I climbed was one more foot that I didn't have to climb anymore.  The rocks that once seemed impossible to reach were forgotten as I focused on the new rocks.  So remember that each urge, each temptation, each challenge will pass.  If you are sitting at home feeling the urge to watch porn, get up and do something else.  The urge will pass.  If you feel the temptation to make fun of somebody, compliment them instead.  The urge will pass.  If you’re mind is focused on drinking, grab a soda or water instead of the beer.  The urge will pass.


"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow,

for tomorrow will worry about itself."

Matthew 6:34a (TNIV)


3. Build a Christian Support Network

Without my friend or the instructor, I would have given up early into my challenge to scale the rock wall.  Our brothers and sisters in Christ stand with us, knowing full well the difficulty of living a holy life.  We ALL struggle.  There is not a single Christian that does not struggle with some temptation or evil.


So we must encourage one another in our walks with Him.  If a fellow Christian provides insight, listen.  It may be God speaking through your friend.  When we remind one another of God’s will, His plans, and His support, we are playing a role in helping someone live the life God designed them for.  So support and be supported.  Without one another, we may easily begin to forget God’s promise and presence.  


"Therefore encourage one another

and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing."

1 Thessalonians 5:11 (TNIV)


Everyday in your journey of holy living, there are things you can do to make the difficult changes you are making a little easier.  Make sure to complete the two daily activities EVERY DAY so that you do not lose sight of the goal.  I pray for each of you, that you overcome evil desires and live the life God has created you for.  God bless, and please share any insights, prayers, further advice, encouragement, or stories below.


Daily:

Pray for God’s strength and support

Remind yourself of why you’re doing this


In addition to daily, do at least one activity each day:

Read a Bible verse related to the change you are making.

Write 3 things you are grateful for.

Create a Support Plan.

Create a Rebound Plan.

Do an Opposite Action to a temptation.

Encourage another in their walk.

Track your progress.

Share with someone about your successes and struggles.

Say to yourself out loud, “Jesus accepts me, failures and successes.  So I accept myself.”

Write your 5 favorite things about yourself.

Create art to express your journey.

Memorize a Bible verse.

Engage in a healthy and Godly activity you enjoy.

Write about what the experience has taught you so far.

Review your goals.

Journal about how the change is impacting your faith and relationship with God.

List your top values.  Does the change align with your Christian values?

Listen to an encouraging song.

Find a motivational picture.

Write a poem about your experience.

Create a Personal Mission Statement.

Exercise.

Envision yourself overcoming obstacles.

Draw a picture of you succeeding in your goals.

Reach out for support from a fellow Christian.