by Natalie Wallace

Life is full of unexpected challenges.

For example, when you and your 5-year-old are both hangry in the car but there is only one snack and no time to stop for another. You realize that as the adult in this situation, you should probably just let the child have the snack. But will you ever eat again? And also, how on earth are you supposed to maintain your patience with the now happily fed and energized 5-year-old, while your current state of hanger persists?

Now, those of you who are responsible adults or not parents are probably thinking, “you could have planned better.” Very true. This is why an entire bulk-size pack of chips now permanently resides in our trunk. So many of our “unexpected challenges” in life could be resolved by better planning. Like the thousands of dollars in student-loan debt that I didn’t really understand at the age of 18...

The truth of the matter is, you can’t plan for everything. As much as my Type-A personality would like to think this statement is a big fat lie, it is just a fact of life. You can’t control everything. So the question is, how are you going to react when life takes a big swing at you?

In June of 2017, I found out we were expecting another baby. This was a challenge. I had hated everything about being pregnant with our first kid and never really anticipated experiencing that again. But I found myself unexpectedly filled with joy and thrilled with the journey we were about to embark on. However, within 24 hours of this discovery, our baby was gone. And I crumpled. This was the big swing.

For a good eight months, I basically just made it through life. I was consumed by grief, but knew that I had to just keep going. Finally, I realized that I had a choice. I could continue to mourn this baby with every fiber of my being for the rest of my life OR I could pick myself up, lean on the people around me who had been trying to help carry the load for months, and most importantly… start talking to God again.

Every challenge comes with a choice.

Are you going to respond in faith? OR Are you going to retreat in fear?

Before a challenge ever arises, God has already equipped us with the ability to persevere. The Israelites finally made it to their Promised Land only to discover it was overrun with armies and literal giants. They felt defeated. But Caleb knew that if God had promised it, He would see them through.

Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.
— Numbers 13:30 (NKJV)

God has already provided everything we need, we just have to reach out to Him. In my eight months of wallowing I had shut God (and most people) out completely. Sure, I attended church most Sundays and sang a few worship songs here and there, but my heart was completely sealed shut. I don’t even think a burning bush or parting of the seas could have cracked it open. The choice was with me. Did I want to continue to retreat in fear, or would I respond in faith?

Finally, during a not-particularly-special worship service, on a regular day in the absence of some major fanfare or sign from God, I chose let my guard down. And immediately, God responded. The grief did not disappear and I will never forget about the baby that wasn’t born. But because I had reconnected with God, I can carry it. We are well able because HE is well able.

Life will continue to be full of unexpected challenges. At times, we may even choose the challenge, unsure that we are ready for all it has in store. Rest assured my friend, in either situation, God’s got you! He already sees that successful business, the degree you’re fighting tooth and nail for, the growing family in the midst of infertility, and the successful marriage even though it currently feels a moment away from divorce.

Focus on the promise...not the problem. Fix your eyes on Jesus, as he has promised you life abundant. Your response to the challenge will determine your result. If David can slay the giant, why can’t you?

It’s time to GO ALL IN my friend. Pursue your challenge wholeheartedly, with unchecked obedience. Not only will you reap the rewards, but your ripple effect could change the lives of your family, friends, the city of Omaha, our nation, our world. Don’t wait for the burning bush to jump into what God has in store for your life.

So are we ready? Say it with me: Challenge Accepted!