In the world of endurance sports, identifying mileposts is crucial to one’s success and the ability to complete the journey ahead. As a cyclist, my ability to navigate longer distances rests in audibly negotiating with my body and talking myself into making it to the next milepost.
Sometimes it goes as planned. Sometimes it does not.
“You can handle the next mile” or “keep those feet moving” are phrases I say aloud while telling my body and mind to stay the course even when I feel like I can’t.
Here’s a news flash. Life is hard, often very hard!
Right now you may be thinking “Don’t quit your day job Captain Obvious!”
Our ability to navigate, and dare I say survive the journey, often rests on our ability to look back, recall God’s faithfulness, and draw on any and all stones of remembrance to help us continue moving forward despite the obstacles.
In the Old Testament book of Joshua, Joshua commanded the leaders of the twelve tribes of Israel to pick up, then carry a stone (do not think pebble), and place it in the Jordan River as a memorial altar to what God did for them in helping them cross on dry ground the river which was at flood stage on their way to the Promised Land (refer to Joshua 3 and 4).
It was an acknowledgement and evidence of His presence and His ability to come through even when the circumstances said otherwise!
The paths each of our lives take in this game called life are distinctly different, no two are alike.
Each is filled with its share of joys and sorrows. Much of the time it feels as if the scales are a bit (OK, a lot) unbalanced in favor of the sorrows.
Day-to-day issues gnaw at us – the flat tire, spilt milk, traffic jams, the neighbor’s incessantly barking dog, and overdraft fees to name a few.
If these were not enough, the stakes are raised with introduction of strained finances, relational difficulties, or severe health concerns.
The perfect storm hits the radar when many or all of these pressure points combine forces to knock our train off the rails or worse yet, threaten our very existence.
As John Eldredge states in his best-selling book, Wild at Heart, we are opposed. There are spiritual realities which would have us believe God is not who He is cracked up to be. Quite simply, we are tempted to believe He is absent.
In her soon to be released book, Relentless: The Unshakeable Presence of a God Who Never Leaves, Michele Cushatt, reluctantly but admirably shares her story of discovering God’s presence in the midst of the perfect storm unleashed in her life.
Michele’s words drew me into her journey from the opening pages.
“That night, I’d reached the end of myself. Three bouts of head and neck cancer –on top of too many other losses in the years before-had delivered overwhelming pain and defeat, obliterating my bulldog determination. It wasn’t that I wanted to die. I simply could not bear the thought of living.”
This is not a hi-how-are-you-doing-today, please-pass-the-popcorn sort of statement.
This is a story of a life and death battle. Specifically, it is an account of Michele’s life and death battle.
Have you ever asked the question – “God, oh God, where are you?”
This became the overarching question in Michele’s life as she longed to emerge from some very dark moments, her beliefs unequivocally challenged.
Michele’s account is honest, raw, and very real. Her testimony is not sugar coated with religious overtones written to elicit feel good moments. Rather, her faith is made vulnerable by asking tough questions in the hope of finding elusive answers in the midst of her despair.
No one is immune to the deep, dark moments woven into our stories. I personally have many questions in my own journey as to whether certain prayers will ever be answered. I believe they will be despite the periodic radio silence.
I know of others who have experienced the deep loss of a loved one, endured a parent’s nightmare of wayward children, felt the emptiness of a sudden job loss (in my own life this has occurred twice), and watched the embers of love become extinguished in the lives of those where one thought it was not possible.
Need I reiterate, life is hard!
When we go through these moments hope seems to dissipate, often quickly. We seek answers and there are none. All seems lost or so we think. It’s easy to arrive at this place and in many ways it is completely understandable.
In thinking of the thoughts I wish to convey with this book recommendation, I cannot stop thinking of a movie scene which I have drawn on many times for encouragement.
In Mel Gibson’s, The Passion of the Christ, the scene in which Jesus is flogged has carried me repeatedly from my own difficult moments to a place of overcoming, it has offered me hope, and most importantly allowed me to realize He understands my pain. It is He who not only gives me strength to move forward, He is the one who is my strength.
Jesus was God and man. He experienced everything we experience, except He did not sin. He experienced the gamut of human emotions among them joy, love, and pain.
Although it is a movie scene, it gives us a glimpse into the reality of what could have or did occur.
Jesus is tethered to a post as He awaits the torture ahead while His accusers jeer at Him. They mercilessly pummel Him as the scourging commences, the crack of the whips echoing loudly as He withstands each count. What I refer to as Round One is over. Jesus is bent over and on His knees, writhing in pain His body bruised and broken. No one would have blamed Him if He simply stayed down and took the rest from a prone position.
Incredibly, and to the amazement of all onlookers, with arms trembling He gets up as if to say, “Give me your best shot for I will not be deterred from accomplishing what I have been sent to do.”
Simply amazing! He took this on willingly.
The something which He was sent to do was offer the forgiveness of sins and the hope of a life joined to Him. He wanted us to know He understands you and He understands me, in every season and every experience of life.
Relentless is not a book meant to showcase a brilliant writer (although I am thoroughly blessed by the writer Michele is!).
- It is a book meant to convey a message of hope in the midst of life’s darkest storms.
- It is meant to validate one’s own difficult questions and it being OK to ask them.
- It truly is meant to express the discovery of the unshakeable presence of a God who never leaves.
- The a legacy Michele wants to offer to you and to me, the reader, is that God is real and His promise is to be present, no matter how difficult the moment.
Personally, it has been a privilege to be on Michele’s book launch team. I have never met Michele and would one day welcome the opportunity to do so. I have followed her writing for several years and this book has had a profound impact on me in many ways, one of which served as the impetus to get me moving in pursuit of my own dream of writing a book as the back story has some painful moments.
In the midst of whatever trial you may be experiencing, please cling to the promise Jesus Himself offers:
“I will not leave you as orphans. I will come to you.” (John 14:18)
You can find more information on Relentless and how to order it if you are interested in doing by clicking on this link.
In the video below, Michele shares an invitation for you to join her.
If you pre-order by November 12th, the official release date, it comes with a host of bonuses. If you find yourself, a friend, or a loved one in a hard place this book is for you!
Enjoy this wonderful account of one person’s story of a God who never leaves!
In closing, I appreciate the opportunity to share these moments with you. If you would like to join me on future posts, I invite you to enter your information in the space provided below or on my homepage as I am looking to expand my readership. Thanks so much for considering it.