Kathy Bernard – Publisher

"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God;
trust also in me.” – John 14:1

A parable is told of a farmer who owned an old mule.  Unfortunately, one day the mule fell into the farmer's well.  The farmer could hear the poor animal 'braying' loudly and went to see what had happened, and discovered the mule frantically trying to get out of the deep, dark well.    Although he sympathized and was sad with the mule’s plight, he decided that neither the mule nor the well was worth the trouble of saving.  Instead, he called his neighbors and enlisted them to help haul some dirt to bury the mule in the well and put him out of his misery.

THE mule became hysterical as he watched the dirt falling in over him! But as the farmer and his neighbors continued shoveling and the dirt hit the mule’s back he began to frantically think, and it suddenly dawned on him that every time a shovel load of dirt landed on his back HE SHOULD SHAKE IT OFF AND STEP UP! And so, as blow after blow of dirt rained down on him, he shook it off and used each shovelful as a step up.  He realized the dirt could be used as a ladder to escape!

"SHAKE it off and step up...shake it off and step up...shake it off and step up!" the mule kept repeating to encourage himself. No matter how painful the blows, or distressing the situation seemed, the old mule fought "panic" and just kept right on shaking the dirt off and stepping up!  With each load of dirt he began to climb higher and higher.

IT wasn't long before the mule, bruised, battered and exhausted, stepped triumphantly over the wall of the well!  What seemed like the end, with the dirt surely burying him alive, was actually a blessing...all because of how he handled his adversity.

AND so it is with our lives.  When we face our problems and respond to them positively, refusing to give in to tidal waves of panic and self-pity, it is then that we learn to shake it off and step up out of our deep wells of affliction and torment. We can conquer our adversities.  Like the brave old mule in the story, if we use all the tribulations that come along to bury us, we can look beyond our situations and see a potential that will benefit and bless us!  If we utilize this time to look up beyond disappointments and grief and see instead possibilities that lie ahead, we can finish God's course, knowing He is always with us, watching our progress as we move forward on His path.  Philippians tells us,  “ Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.   Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.  His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”

THERE will be times you will want to quit, give up, and take what little joy you can garner in this imperfect world.  You have watched the hot fires of anguish and torment taking away dreams you cherished, and you find there is no place you can turn for help.  This is the time to remember what Matthews 7:7-11 has to say “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for.  Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. And it goes on to say, ‘You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead?  Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not!  So if you know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him’.

SOMEDAY the prize of eternal life is going to be worth all the tears, the pain, the suffering, the hard times, the misery, the meanness and the hate, the betrayals, all the losses in your lifetime that this imperfect world places on your shoulders.  Never lose sight of your ultimate target.   Never!  Always be on guard lest you become lax, secure in your comfort zone and unwilling to continue your Christian march.

LIFE is a passage toward a chosen goal.  The Christian is called to push forward in faith, never lingering or taking shelter on the easy street of sin. There will be times when you become weary, tired of dead-ends and roadblocks, but don’t give up and turn back.  Press ahead, knowing that in the midst of it all, the Lord is still with you.  With each burden, you will learn persistence and patience, growing in strength and trust in the Lord.  Quietly listen to the Holy Spirit telling you that you can and will make it through. Take stock of your situation and remember that when the world turns upside down, this is when your heavenly Father steps in, clearing the way, giving encouragement, sometimes picking you up and carrying you over the rocky hills, over the muddy waters that you have tried, without success, to plough through by yourself.  He will set you down gently, cheering you on our way with a dose of courage from His mighty hand,  giving you a spirit that will not die as long as you have faith, for it is in that faith during uncertain and trying times that you show your trust in Him.

We know Jesus Christ has already canceled out the finality of death so this is no longer an option for those of us who believe and obey.  When we finish this life and climb the golden stairs where the Lord Jesus Christ stands waiting at the door to His Father’s Kingdom, we will remember with clarity and rejoice in what He promised long ago, There are many rooms in my father’s House.  If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?”  Rest on His word and say with complete confidence,  “The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear.  What can mere people do to me?”   Hebrews 13:6.   

WHEN the weight and oppression of this life grows heavy, be like the old mule in the story. Remember to “Shake it off, and keep stepping up to glory.”

“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.  Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.   I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”   - Isaiah 41:10

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