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NOVEMBER 2004
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PatienceLandslide!
By Lisa Bumgarner

I am scarcely alive, yet strangely conscious. I lay motionless, helpless and disoriented at the bottom of this huge heap, buried beneath the landslide that has befallen me. It is extremely painful and massive, and the weight upon me seems to be crushing the very life from my body. I am immobilized from the shock and severity of the impact. I can see nothing but darkness. I can hardly breathe. I am filled with nothing less than sheer panic and terror.

Each passing moment seems to bring more and more weight onto the pile. Another load tumbles down, and another, and another, one right after the other. Surely, nothing else can possibly fall upon me, but something else inevitably does. I am certain that I cannot withstand one more weighty load, but I do, although just barely. I am frightened and horrified beyond belief. I make several futile attempts to move, to get up, or to do something anything! Each attempt yields nothing; each effort weakens me further. I begin to lose hope. I consider giving up.

Time stands still. I begin to think back upon the events along the pathway, prior to the fall. All the warning signs of danger were there, yet I did not heed their warning. I continued on, past what was safe, never imagining the consequences would be so enormous. I knew I was too close to the edge the edge of impending disaster but I thought I would make it, as I had so many times before.

Alas, this time I did not make it. I am wounded, broken and not at all sure if I will survive. My mind races with another surge of scattered, fragmented thoughts and subjects, simultaneously. I must think clearly! Clarity of mind is crucial. My first cohesive thought is that God will not allow me to suffer more burdens than I am able to bear. He already knew beforehand, before the world began, that I would be right here, in this awful situation, at this particular moment. He has a plan for me, even now. He designed and created me. He knows my every thought and my every need. I am His, and He is with me right now. I feel comforted, although still in great anguish and pain.

Again, my mind begins to race. I think of the story of Lazarus, who was dead for four days before Jesus came to him. Lazarus was already dead and buried, and everyone thought the Lord, Jesus Christ, was too late. Jesus was not too late. He was right on time to glorify the Father, and fulfill His purposes, in His time. Jesus miraculously brought Lazarus back to life on earth. In that there could be no mistakes or misunderstandings about the depth and breadth of His power or capabilities. There could be no explanation of the event, other than a true miracle from God. Now, even though I may think it is way too late for my situation and me, only He knows. Nothing is too great or too hard for Him.

Once more, I am hopeful. I know that God is able and capable of doing absolutely anything. I know that at any moment, He can deliver me from this unrelenting situation. He can do all things, and with Him, I can do all things. Without Him, I can do nothing. I must trust Him, and be still, and know that He is God. I must know, without a shadow of a doubt, that everything is going according to His plan and that He is in control. I must remember that I am here, underneath the mounds of rubble of my life, for a reason. He knows and sees everything; I do not. He is God! I am not.

The mountain that lay piled atop of me is not an actual geographical landslide; yet it is an accurate analogy and description of how I feel. The landslide that I am under consists not of mounds of dirt and boulders, but of a series of rapidly occurring and unexpected life events, that have literally knocked me to the ground and buried me beneath their impact. This landslide consists of a devastating loss of income, coupled with some already overextended debts which, in combination with overwhelming medical diagnoses and several untimely, problematic events, have compounded the situation into an avalanche of epic proportions. This landslide, my personal landslide of life events, is overtly, profoundly and exceedingly real.

It was not God who made the choices that eventually led me to this path of near destruction, surrounded by pain and misery on all sides, but I. Now that I am here at the bottom of the heap, seemingly with no way out, I finally take time to reflect and ponder my recent mistakes, weaknesses and sins. I begin to accept responsibility for my own choices and actions that have brought me here. I realize that I have allowed myself to become caught up in the ways of the world, choosing to serve self, rather than God. I had begun to believe my own hype that the accomplishments, achievements and successes I had known were somehow of my own doing, my own strength and of my own ability. I began to focus on myself, rather than on Him. I, unintentionally, began traveling that subtle path of spiritual dissension that eventually led me here, among these trials and tribulations.

Maybe I had reasoned to myself, "I am a Christian. God will excuse my lack of commitment, my all-consuming, hectic life, my self-absorption, my emotional distance and my spiritual laziness. After all, I have served Him passionately in days gone by and this self-serving phase is only temporary. Surely, he would not let me fall!"

Oh, but fall I did, and with a huge and thunderous thud. Of course, His Word tells me plainly that "Pride goeth before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall".

I admit that, sometimes, I hear only what I want to hear, see only what I want to see and arrogantly think I am the one running the show. God certainly did not make me fall, nor did He want me to fall. He may have allowed me to fall in order to change the path that I was on, or perhaps to get my undivided attention, or maybe to give me an opportunity to learn something, or perhaps, to help me to see the error of my ways, repent and draw near to Him once again. He may have tried to reach me many times before the fall, but I was not even close enough to Him, in my spiritual walk, to hear His voice.

When there is distance in my relationship with Him, its because I moved away from Him. He did not move away from me, nor will He ever. I know, for sure that any time my relationship with Him is not what it should be, I am the offender, not He. God is the same today, tomorrow and forever. He tells me in His Word that He will never leave or forsake me, and its true. He wont ever! At times I, on the other hand, forsake Him by going my own way, then wonder, "God, why have you forgotten about me?"

I quickly think of His awesome power and greatness. I know of it personally. I have experienced His miracles, in many profound ways, so many times. I have complete faith in the Lord and complete trust in Him. However, I realize I have not given Him the proper priority in my life lately. When I think of all that He has done for me, and the unconditional love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness he has bestowed upon me, I am ashamed and appalled at my blatant lack of enthusiasm and effort in becoming the person He created me to be.

Its interesting that in the beginning all my thoughts dwelled upon my pain, suffering and the overwhelming circumstances that encased me. Now, even though the circumstances have not changed, I am beginning to focus on my blessings, rather than my problems. That, in itself, is nothing less than the miraculous and amazing grace of God! This process of self-reflection is a gift from the Lord to allow me the opportunity to re-focus my thoughts, my feelings, my priorities and my relationship with Christ.

I may never crawl out from under this huge pile. I may never see the light of day again, but I still have a lot to be thankful for, and I have been blessed beyond belief. Suddenly I realize that some of the weight has been lifted and some of the pain has subsided. My Savior, my Comforter, my Lord is with me through this and every landslide that comes. I must be obedient, submissive, repentant and thankful. He is in control and I am in His hands, always.
Lisa Bumgarner and her husband, who is the love of her life, live together in their North Carolina home, which is centrally located between Charlotte and Asheville. Lisa is a graphic designer by trade, and aspires to become a Christian writer. She has a passion for writing about God and His greatness. www.arisepublicationspecialists.com
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