By Ashley Veneman
I called out, “You can do hard things!” My five-year-old stood on top of the highest point in the rock climbing gym looking down with determination. “Just jump,” I called out. She looked out in front of her, put her arms in the air, and leapt forward – a beautiful ballerina flying through the air with wild blonde curls swinging everywhere. Joyfully squealing all the way to the bottom, she landed on her rear end, stood up, and shouted, “Again!” My little princess, whose glasses had fogged over from perspiration and body heat, had conquered the heights. She started the ascent again – strong, fearless, trusting, joyful –what a glorious little creation she is!
“You can do hard things.” It’s a phrase many use in so many contexts. I believe it, I’ve repeated it to my children, and myself, and I want to live by it in so many ways, but the Lord has been showing me more about this phrase over the past few months. While I think it’s an excellent motto, and one that I need to repeat when certain “hard” days or seasons come up, I’ve realized sometimes those “hard things” need some re-evaluation.
A book God is using to challenge me recently, is “The Saving Life of Christ,” by Major Ian Thomas. I’m working through it with a young lady I disciple, and while I meant for it to be an encouragement to her, it’s probably spoken more so to me. Isn’t life funny like that?
It’s my heart’s greatest desire to be used by God. I want my life to matter and count, I want my children to see Jesus move and work in and through us, and He has been so faithful to do it – but if I’m honest, I also know it’s so easy to spin my wheels as fast as possible trying to be a part of where God is working. Even with sincere motives, I can be missing the mark of God’s personal calling in my life. Busy does not mean effective.
Busy does not mean effective.
Thomas says in his book, “You are not called upon to commit yourself to a need or to a task or to a field. You are called upon to commit yourself to God!” He goes on to say, “There are a thousand needs, but you are not committed to these. You are committed to Christ, and it is His business to commit you where He wants you” (p. 62).
When I’m lined up under His authority, then I can do hard things, because they are the hard things that God has assigned and allowed. 1 Timothy 1:12 says, “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service” (NASB). He puts us into service. He directs our paths and calendars and days.
“All God demands of a man is his availability – to be what man was created to be, the human vehicle of the divine life, inhabited by God for God” (Thomas, p. 67). We are created FOR God, and for God alone.
Am I “man-conscious or God-conscious” (p.67)? When I’m man-conscious, I can be effective in getting things done. I can “do hard things,” but I’m left discouraged, exhausted, and depleted. I have nothing left. When I’m God-conscious, the “hard things” do the opposite. They bolster my confidence, fuel me with faith, and make me ready for the next moment. I live my life for the pleasure of my Father.
My sweet Norah climbed the mountain in front of her because I told her she could do it. I picked out the obstacle, told her where to put her footing, encouraged her by talking through the hard paths – I, her parent, set her course. When she finally scaled the top, she was ready for more. What a beautiful picture of Christ as our heavenly parent. We can do hard things, but with Christ the hard things become the priceless things, because He uses it to strengthen, teach, and uphold us.
We can do hard things, but with Christ the hard things become the priceless things, because He uses it to strengthen, teach, and uphold us.
“If you are born again, all you need is what you have, and what you have is what He is! He does not give you strength – He is your strength! He does not give you the victory – He is your victory! (Thomas, p. 70).
I want to line up my steps with His assignments for me, not with my own works. Let Him choose the mountains. Then, with the confidence that comes only from our faithful Father, climb high. With Him, we can do hard things!
Ashley lives in Memphis, Tennessee and is the wife of Justin, her best friend, and mother of Cole and Norah, her two amazing little ones. She is a work-at-home mom trying to soak up all the little years as much as possible since she has yet to find a way to pause time. Ashley is a wedding photographer with her husband, and is so thankful for the ability to do a profession she loves, while at the same time making PB&J sandwiches, building Lego towers to the sky, and setting up the perfect princess tea party. She loves women’s ministry, a good one-on-one conversation, and being a part of a community of women running hard after the Lord.