Have you ever hardboiled some eggs? Of course, you have. You choose the right saucepan to hold the number of eggs you are going to boil, maybe pour some salt in the pan, add just the right amount of water, set it on the stove, turn on the heat, and carefully lower those raw eggs down into the water without cracking the shells. Then, in a little more than five minutes after the water comes to a boil–voilà–hardboiled eggs.
After you turn off the heat, you have to decide how to cool the eggs. I usually just start running cold water over the little critters in the pan. After a few minutes of that, it’s pretty safe to pick one up and get ready to peel it. Some people crack the peel on the edge of the counter, some use a kitchen knife; I just smack it good on the side of the pan I cooked it in.
As soon as you crack the egg, you start peeling off the shell hoping it will come off in just a few pieces and come off completely. Here is where I have a problem. I don’t know if it’s impatience, lack of knowledge on how to actually peel and egg, or some mysterious rule of the universe that causes egg shell peeling to never go right. Rarely do I get an egg that starts to come apart but almost always I get a lot of little pieces of shell on the egg and on my hands. What do I do? I hold the mostly peeled egg under some more cold water and wash the small bits of shell off the egg and my hands and into the sink to be dealt with by the disposal.
Here is where it gets tricky. You see, we have a large, deep farm-style stainless steel single basin sink so we have one of those sink grids that protects the sink bottom and allows stuff to fall through without scratching the sink. Most everything falls through and goes down the drain easily–except for the small, pesky pieces of egg shell. No matter how many times you take the faucet around the edge of the sink at full force, invariably, there are still tiny little pieces of shell hiding–most of the time right under the edge of the little feet that hold up the grid. Wash, wash, wash, look; eggshells. Wash, wash, wash again; eggshells. Finally, pick up the grid, pull the little pieces of shell off the feet and curse them as they once and for all go down the drain.
Ever had that or something like it happen to you? Maybe not with eggshells but something else you are trying to get rid of in your life. Maybe it’s a bad habit you can’t lick or a dangerous relationship you just can’t seem to give up. You have tried to bust out and get away from what’s hiding, but you can’t. Every time you look around, there it is–holding on to you with a grip as strong as super glue.
What to do? Well, the practical self just says something like, “I’ll just keep working on it and eventually it will all work out.” But then, months or even years later, it’s still hanging on like a piece of egg shell in the bottom of the sink. Sometimes, you just can’t get rid of what needs to be gone without some help. I find that a good degreasing dish detergent helps with the shells. And I find that a great God helps with the issues of life that we just can’t seem to overcome.
For those of us who are believers in Jesus, we are oft to quote Phillipians 4:13 (my favorite bible verse), I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength, and then we go right on doing the same stupid things we do. Well, I’ve learned something lately that has helped me and maybe it’ll help you, too.
There’s a big difference between doing and giving. By nature, I’m a doer. Give me a problem, let me analyze it, and I’ll do my best to accomplish whatever task is at hand. Most of the time, I’m really good with that scenario. But sometimes all my analytical skills and more time than should be necessary just don’t cut the mustard.
That’s when I have to–you have to–lean in hard toward Jesus. Sometimes there is no good answer, not from counselors, not from good books, not even from the Bible. What? Not even from the Bible. That’s right. When you are wrestling with something that you need to turn loose but can’t seem to find the strength to do it, not even all the great memory verses you’ve learned over a lifetime seem like much help.
So, you lean in hard toward Jesus, the one who gives you strength, and you let him find the pesky eggshells. What, exactly, does that mean from my point of view. Continue to read and study the Bible–even when it seems like it’s not helping. By the way, the Bible always helps us even when we don’t realize it. Continue to pray about whatever it is that’s bothering you and won’t go away. Why? Because even when you’re stuck and it seems like your prayers aren’t going two inches past your lips, God hears you. He loves you and he has a purpose in all this. Continue to do whatever you can to advance God’s Kingdom around you. Even when it seems as if you are getting nowhere fast. Someone who needs your help is watching, waiting, and listening.
Don’t ever give up on yourself or on God. Listen to what the apostle Paul said about something in his life that was bothering the heck out of him. He said, I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Romans 7:15 [ESV] Romans 7, especially the last half, speaks to this issue of dealing with hard stuff. You ought to read the whole thing and then think about it.
One day soon, my life, and yours, is going to end. Death is imminent. Maybe not tomorrow, or the next day, or the next. But before you know it. So, while you have breath, keep fighting the good fight of faith, keep wrestling with whatever gets you down, don’t give up, and wait on God to show you what is going on. He will, in this life or the next. The fight is worth it, friends. It is.