Lay Your Paddle Down: God Hates Ping-Pong

Why do we bounce back and forth like a ping-pong ball? Ping — we put it all in God’s hands. Pong — we start worrying again. And soon we’re dizzy, spinning, and desperately needing peace. You’ve been there, I’m sure.

I have, even though I’m not really much of a worrier. After decades of living with instability, and on a missionary fish line income, it usually takes something pretty big to make me worry. Big, like the Atlantic Ocean.

Yet, I’m grateful for life’s difficulties. For through them I come to know God in deeper ways.

My mom is in the hospital. And in a state of confusion, and I’m so afraid of her ending up in a nursing home. As you can imagine, it’s hard being here. Overseas and far away. Unable to see her or be near.

As a young adult, I had hoped to care for my parents in their old age. And now I can’t care for one of the most special people I’ve ever known. A good mom, always there for everyone. Who not only raised us, but most of her grandchildren. Who gave, and gave, and always gave some more. And did it willingly.

And now she lays in a hospital bed so far away.

We knew when setting out, that missionary life would make us unavailable for our families. But we were so young back then, 30 years ago. And with my parents in their 50’s, thoughts of elderly parent care were far from our minds.

For some reason, though we know these things will come, they surprise us when they do. And we wonder, “How did this sneak up on us?” The years have come and gone. Old age has hit. And now Mom lies in a hospital bed, her mind unclear. With few visitors, and we can’t be there.

“Give all your care and anxieties to the Lord. He cares, and will help you carry them,” we’re told. So we do it, because we know it’s Truth.

Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you, (1 Peter 5:7).

But our own doubtful nature often threatens to drown out faith and trust.

And we take up the burden, that we just gave to the Lord, again. Weighing ourselves down with all the wondering of “what if” and “if only.” With questions like, “Why Lord, did this happen?” or “Why can’t something be done?”

And if we’re honest with ourselves, it’s because, deep down, seeds of doubt remain.

We question the wisdom of leaving it all in God’s hands. After all, it was there to begin with. He could have prevented it, but didn’t. And we keep playing ping-pong, grabbing the ball from God’s hands.

The Lord never promised no difficulties, or that we’d always understand. He simply says “give me your burdens.” Because he is more than willing and ready to carry them with us.

But that takes quiet, peaceful acceptance of whatever he sends our way.

What it comes down to is recognizing him as Lord. And allowing him to be Lord — of all and in all. Tuning out the voice that keeps whispering, “If only…” And resting in the reassuring truths that:

  • Though God doesn’t always change the situation, he is working good through it. Using it to change us, help us grow, and know him more.
  • He doesn’t focus on the problem — because he’s already seen its end. He knows fully well that it is only temporal.

Then, and only then, will that inexplicable, incomprehensible peace fill our heart.

I can’t be there with Mom, though my heart cries for it. That cry will not cease, and I don’t think it should. But I do find comfort in knowing that nothing in this life, either good or bad, lasts forever. And in knowing that the Lord — even in the darkest hours — is working for good.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope, (Jeremiah 29:11).

I don’t understand. And I hate old age, though I am not afraid of death and aging. I hate what it does to people’s minds and bodies. This was not God’s plan for humanity, but sin marred everything.

Yet God is still in control…and he has a better plan.

Tough times come, and will continue coming. There is no way of escaping it. Troubles so tough we wonder how to stay on our feet and get through the day.

But through them God shows who he is. And what a great help he is in times of trouble. And how weak we are, and in need of his strength. And because he wants to remind us that the end is coming — and that it’s far better.

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High, (Psalms 46:1-4).

So I’m not playing ping-pong. Yes, my heart is breaking; it is human. But faith is strong because it’s supernatural. It sees beyond, to the God who can even hold shattered hearts. This too shall pass. Mom is ready to meet him. And somehow, though I don’t see a way, he will carry her, and me, even through this time.

The best truly is yet to come. And in that our hearts can rest.

[Image ©TheScorziellos-Sheila]

6 thoughts on “Lay Your Paddle Down: God Hates Ping-Pong

  1. This was such a powerful piece to me! I really do struggle with worry, I’ll say I’m giving it to God but then I start to doubt. This was such a great reminder of how important it is for us to trust God and believe that He can bring us through difficult times. I’m so sorry to hear about your Mom, I pray your strength in the Lord during this difficult time. Peace be with you.


    1. Once again, thank God I’m not the only one! And thanks for your concern and prayers during this tough time. Right now, Mom is in a rehab home, though it’s doubtful she’ll ever go home again. Her mind is getting so confused. It’s heartbreaking. But we truly do find peace in bringing it all to the One who knew heartbreak greater than we’ll ever feel. I just pray to always see that we really can trust him with everything. He is God, in control, and faithful and true. God is so good!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post Sheila, thank you for sharing it. Back in May I had my own ‘moment’ … when separation from my mom hit hard (it was as she was leaving after a two week visit). It’s times like that when I value the verse “I believe Lord, help thou mine unbelief.” (Mk. 9.24) … Thanks again!


    1. You know, Mike, I thought that as time went by by, it would get easier. But I can say that after 27 years here it does not get easier. The biggest difficulty for me right now is that Mom has dementia, and is getting worse. It was hard at first. Until I realized that all I can do is leave her in God’s hands. And then it hit me- even if I were there – leaving her in God’s hands is still all I could do. He is capable, and will watch over our loved ones – whether close at hand or far away. I’m learning to just treasure & store up the few times we do have with loved ones. Rather than concentrate on what we don’t have. And that helps a lot! May God always bring comfort and grace to you in your own such “moments.” Hazards of the job.

      Liked by 1 person

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