Every so often I get a progress report for my nutrition course. It shows me the marks I've got so far and it projects a finishing date. So far I'm on track to finish in June apparently, although I'm working at completing the course work in April hopefully. I only have something like five more assignments to write, so with a bit of discipline I should be able to work through those steadily over the next few weeks.
Of course this is not the only thing I'm doing! The idea behind doing the nutrition course was to get my head back into study and writing mode because I knew I'd need to do that for the academic side of the sports massage course. So, as I'm writing up nutrition assignments, I'm also trying to write up my anatomy and physiology paper. The problem here is the new language of muscles and bones. So far I think I've confused myself more than I've absorbed, but yesterday I decided to draw a map of the shoulder, listing all the muscles with their origins, insertions and actions. Hopefully that will help me order some of the information in my already crowded brain!
And, as if learning new skills and acquiring new knowledge wasn't enough, we're buying a house and I'm looking for a job! The latter is stressful because as a minister I have nothing to offer the world beyond the church, the former is stressful because buying a house is always stressful! We've signed the contracts but not exchanged them yet, so we are still a bit in limbo but getting ever closer. I just hope we get the house in time to do the work on it before we have to move out of our current home.
I guess by now that you can understand why, when I get asked how I'm doing, the answer is usually that we are okay, but the truth is that okay is rather good when you think about everything with which we are dealing at the moment.
Perhaps today the 'phone will ring and it will be someone offering me just the right job to fit around all the things I'm trying to do (I forgot to mention starting church from scratch in the new location as another point of stress), or maybe it will be the solicitor saying that we can exchange contracts. Perhaps the 'phone won't ring at all and another day will pass and the feeling of pressure will ratchet up another notch.
Which brings us to an important question. What do you do when the pressure mounts? When prayers go seemingly unanswered and you can see no clear way forward, it is so very easy to find yourself wondering if God actually likes you anymore. Perhaps he's busy with bigger things, or perhaps you've done one too many things wrong and now you're on the outside. If you've never felt like that then bless you. Me, well I feel it a lot. And I have no easy answers or simple solution to it either. I just have to persevere.
Faith is easy when things are going well.
By the end of next week it might all be different. Papers might be written, job offers secured, house purchased. But the pressure will come, if not through these avenues, then by some other means. Faith isn't so much about overcoming pressure, it's about learning to manage it by faith, in faith, through faith.