Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Obstacle Course


On the 29th of December 2011, my husband, son and I, packed our bags and began a 400 km drive to Mildura, Victoria. We looked forward to welcoming the new year in with our extended family from Whyalla, Sydney and the Blue Mountains. Our plan was to converge on neutral territory and to enjoy 5 days of relaxation, adventure and family times together. Very exciting! We found that the roads were packed with many other holiday makers, both before us and behind us. Our speedy passage was often interrupted by many a slow moving vehicle.

Shan would overtake a long slow road train and breathe a sigh of relief as we moved again at the appointed speed limit of 110 kmph. But ever so frustratingly, just 10 or 15 minutes later, we would catch up on yet another slow moving vehicle. And then…. more overtaking was needed by swinging out to the lane of oncoming traffic. It always made me hold my breath and pray fervently that we would not have a head on crash!

Obstacles! No matter where you drive, there are often obstacles to overcome, don’t you think? I got my driver’s license only a year ago. Driving hazards seem to pop up every time I drive. A car on the right of me; a roundabout in the front of me; an impatient tailgater on the back of me, a parked car on the left of me….! Whenever I get behind the wheel, my road seems to become an obstacle course!

Come to think of it, every time I start walking on the road of life, obstacles seem to drop down right ahead of me. Know what I mean?

In fact, hazards and obstacles pop up all over the place on our Writing journeys too, don’t they? A writer’s life is not an easy life. Needing agents, but never finding them; needing publishers but getting rejected by them; needing ideas but losing them; needing readers but being rebuffed by them; needing luck but losing the same; needing encouragement but often discouraged…..! Need I go on?

You and I know that we are often energised by our calling. That we have purpose and passion as we write. That nothing excites us as much as the stories that grab at us from the inside. That life at the keyboard, or life with a blank piece of paper and pen is truly invigorating. That there is lots of good stuff inside us that needs to get out there and be seen and heard and read by the world!

We also know that we rarely have a smooth ride. Other professions seem to have it easier. They may not spend half the time we do on their work, but they actually earn good money from it. We don’t. We work hard; we write into the wee hours, we burn the midnight oil. But to what purpose? Our should-be-world-famous manuscripts are often not picked up. They sit idly on a slush pile at a Publisher’s desk somewhere out there for many dreary months. And then we get that dreaded letter from the Publisher, which politely informs us that we didn’t make it this time! Perhaps we do publish our books. But then have to spend many hours and lots of energy figuring out how to sell our books.

As we were winding our way towards Mildura, my mind went catapulting towards obstacles, not just as a Christian writer but also as a Christian. I don’t know about you – but as for me, my Christian life is jam packed with obstacles. One day I walk around without a care in the world; a song in my heart and a smile on my lips. The next day I wonder what hit me. I crash into a huge roadblock on life’s journey. It badly impedes my progress; it quickly steals my joy!

Wouldn’t it be great if life’s highway was one beautiful stretch of country road with no obstacles, no difficulties, no hard to live with folks, no nothing that impedes our progress? Then, we would be singing all the time. Our purses would bulge. We would hold it all together. We would even be successful, well known authors. Life would be wonderful!

But you know what? That’s an illusion! Yes, an illusion. Dare I say it? Yes! I do believe that without those very obstacles, life would not be half as good it is now! Without the difficulties and the huge mountains that block my progress, I would not be half the writer I am today; or half the woman I believe I am!

As I reflect at the start of a brand new year on the year that is past, I feel a warm glow welling up inside of me. The glow isn’t all about success that follows the world’s definition of success. The feelings of well being that bubble up inside me overflow out of a different kind of success.

When I chalk up my successes of 2011, the ones that I feel most ‘proud’ and glad about are nothing to do with my “achievements”. No! I am full of joy today because I re-discovered this past year that God and I are always a majority. That God alone is always enough. Full stop. I feel successful not because of success. But because I chose His way when times got rough. Because I jumped over many hurdles with His help. Because I am still going.

Because I deliberately chose a better pathway when an obstacle loomed in front of me. Because I decided to take a detour when God suggested I needed one. Because I felt my soul growing muscles each time I overcame an obstacle! And yes, I even felt God’s cheering me on from the sidelines as I jumped over hurdle after hurdle in His strength! And you know, He sometimes gave me Eagles wings, so I could fly high over some of those obstacles!

On Jan 1st 2012, as I sat in an unknown little church in Mildura with my family – many miles away from home, my heart was bursting with joy. I felt God’s love and peace in my heart. I knew that any difficulties I’d encountered to date in my writing journey were all good – they had challenged me; and they had helped me. They had made me appreciate the good things I had accomplished. And so I didn’t take them for granted. They spurred me on to write better.

I knew also that life’s obstacles of the past year were stepping stones to character growth, to refining my spirit. Lessons in learning to love God. Lessons in learning how to live in freedom as His beloved child. Lessons of doing things God’s way and not mine.

So the very things I thought of as obstacles to a happy life were in fact the source of my joy today. I believe I have a new confidence. A new spring in my step. A new smile in my heart. I did have a year filled with obstacles. But the obstacles were blessings. Seeming hazards that refined me as a writer. That grew me as a person. And so I rejoice today with all I am. And praise God for an obstacle filled year which brought me closer to Him and His purposes for my life.

Is your present life as a Writer an obstacle course? Is your life as a Christian filled with new hazards each day? Fear not my friend. Those very obstacles are the stepping stones to better things. I say this with confidence, because His word says so. And I found it to be true. He has shown its truth to me over and over again.

The obstacles I’ve surmounted and overcome through God’s amazing love and God’s amazing grace, have brought me where I am today. I do love the new ground I stand upon today. I am excited about the new pathways that beckon me enticingly. So there is something to say about this Obstacle Course called Life. It’s great! Take my word for it!

May every obstacle in your writer’s journey bring out the best in you! May every hazard in your Christian journey be the stepping stone to enjoying abundant life – today and every day of 2012!

A very Blessed New Year to you all!


Anusha enjoys many things in life – music and song, poetry and prose, writing and writers, family and friendships, creation and The Creator. She’s finds joy in simple things, in quiet moments, in life led by the One who died for her.

She’s been writing all her life for pleasure. But 5 years ago, God tapped her on the shoulder and asked her to get on with His plans for her. Since then she’s been writing also to fulfill her purpose and calling in life!

Her first book 'Enjoying the Journey', a collection of 75 little lessons from every day life, is available from her Facebook page "'Enjoying the Journey' by Anusha Atukorala".

25 comments:

  1. Thanks for a great blog Anusha. Last night I finished reading the book 'Angel in the Rubble'. It tells the story of the woman who was the last person found alive in the collapsed world trade centre in September '11. Now she experienced an obstacle! In those 27 hours she met God and it changed her whole life for the better. My story is the same. We hit a road block rather than an obstacle. Without that experience I wouldn't know God the way I do today...and I wouldn't have a book. As the good book says 'Count it all joy!'

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  2. "Wouldn’t it be great if life’s highway was one beautiful stretch of country road with no obstacles, no difficulties, no hard to live with folks, no nothing that impedes our progress?" Now THIS is what I'm looking forward to!

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  3. Thanks Anusha,
    I really enjoyed your blog. All the best for 2012.

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  4. Hello Dorothy, Yes the obsticles in life are many, and we all face daily struggles.
    That little church in Mildura sounds full of Gods love, and I agree that we all walk stepping stones to better things in 2012. Sometimes you just want to give up and if it weren't for a deep faith in Jesus Christ, I'm sure I would have long ago. My hubby Ray suffers from PTSD, so I spend many hours alone. If it weren't for reading praying, studying scripture and writing, I don't know where I'd be. It can all become overwhelming as you get older. I had my 67th birthday three days prior Christmas...My first book was released just before then after three years of struggling with it.My 93yrs old mother is looking forward to me taking her a copy. We live in Qld and she is in NSW. I will look up Anusha book. God is good.Love crystal xx

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  5. Hi Anusha,
    That's a very apt wrap-up of a writer's life, proving that as we persist in spite of all those obstacles, we definitely have something very special going.
    Blessings,
    Paula

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  6. Great post Anusha! I tend to think that if there weren't any obstacles, life could become quite dull. I do like a challenge. Phrases like "it can't be done" seem to motivate me. You learn so much from finding your way around/over them - God is always teaching. Amen. :)

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  7. Agreed. How boring it would all be without the bumps in the road. And we would never grow. Lovely post, Anusha. I did enjoy.

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  8. Thanks for your comments guys! Jo - the book 'Angels in the rubble' sounds a really good book and I must get my hands on it. Agree totally that what we consider obstacles are not real obstacles and are really a matter of perception. Like you said - we would not have a story if not for the little hiccups that befall us! :)And yes, I fully endorse that our knowledge of God comes through the hard times. I am grateful for all of it because His faithfulness and love is proven through them. Blessings and thanks Jo!
    Anusha

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  9. Peter your comment made me grin! :) That wide open heavenly road is not far away..... so you can await it with joy! :)

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  10. Thanks Jennifer. All the very best to you and yours too for the brand new year. God bless.
    Anusha

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  11. Hi Crystal,
    Many thanks for sharing. Yes, the little church in Mildura was a good one, but what I was talking about was not the church so much as God's love and grace and faithfulness in my life this past year. I had been through some hard times; I have made mistakes; I have stuffed up - but through it all God has beeen there for me - big time! I have known His love and His care in spite of all I am and in spite of the knock backs of life. And so I was filled with joy - because I know that in the future too, God alone would be enough.

    I am so sorry to hear about Ray suffering from PSTD. That must be so hard on you both. I will pray for him. May God comfort you when you feel sad. And bring healing to Ray. I am glad that prayer and the Word and your writing have built you up. Am sure God has come closer to you through it all?

    Happy 67th b'day Crystal - belatedly. I pray it will be a good year for you and Ray. The publishing of your book would have been such a blessing. Well done! Your 93 year old Mum must be thrilled about it too.

    God bless Crystal and may God's love wrap around you today and keep you and in the year ahead. xo
    Anusha

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  12. Thanks Paula for your encouragement. Blessings to you and yours for 2012.

    Thanks Amanda - you are so right! The obstacles do provide the much needed challenge and thrills to our journeys don't they? Life is so much richer for them.

    Thanks Rose for your encouragement too. Here's to a year filled with obstacles of God's kind! If He brings us to it - He will surely lead us through them :)

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  13. What a great parable! I reckon a theme like "Obstacles" would make a good radio program. I'm always looking for a new slant as a way of capturing listeners. Thanks Anusha, and a Happy New Year - not without obstacles - but with God's guidance around, over, and sometimes through them!

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  14. I must apologise Anusha, For some reason I thought Dorothy wrote the above...I must be getting older than I realised...God Bless you and keep you and may 2012 be a great year for you and yours in every way.

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  15. That was really encouraging Anusha. One of the best things about obstacles is seeing the amazing ways in which God comes through for us. Also they keep us walking close to Him through prayer. Happy New Year Anusha.

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  16. Many thanks for that Rita. Hmm...I like your idea about a radio program entitled 'Obstacles'. :)Hope you can make use of it! I also loved your wishes. Sounds good to me - a new year that includes obstacles and also a God who take us around, over or through them! Yes!
    Blessings and thanks,
    Anusha

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  17. No worries Crystal about calling me Dorothy! :) As long as Dorothy doesn't mind - I don't! :)

    Many blessings to you to in 2012. May God shower you with His presence and His peace and His blessings,
    Anusha

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  18. Thanks for your encouraging words Debbie. You are so right. Often obstacles do help us experience God's amazing Hand. They also give us a closer walk with Him. So they are blessings in disguise!
    Thanks for your encouragement Debbie,
    Many good wishes to you and yours for 2012,
    Anusha

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  19. Great post, Anusha. You're so right. Often we can't see the forest for the trees, or in this case, the road for the obstacles.

    2011 has been a great year. 2012 is going to be even better. Especially with lovely people like you to fellowship with! :)

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  20. Thanks Lee! Bless you for your encouragement. I fully agree with you that 2012 will top 2011 which was a great year in many ways. And thanks for making me smile widely by your last comment! (Grin! :))

    Have a great new year of living and thanks again for all you are doing for us Christian writers! It is much appreciated!
    blessings and many thanks,
    Anusha

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  21. Thanks, Anusha. It's the obstacles that throw us back into God's arms, so they are always needful and helpful. Hoping that 2012 will see less mistakes for all of us :)

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  22. Thanks Margaret! :) And yep! It's the obstacles that throw us right back at God. And what a blessing that is!
    Thanks for your comments.
    Anusha

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  23. Anusha, thanks for your inspiring and encouraging post :)

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  24. Thanks Narelle. Thanks for your encouraging words! :)

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  25. I can't imagine if there's a car that been hit with that huge stone slab.
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