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When you get to the end of your rope
by Misti Chancellor
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“When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot and hold on.” She closed the card her well-meaning coworker, Sarah, had given her and tossed it onto the pile of paperwork on her desk. “Yeah… and how exactly are you supposed to do that when you’ve got a death grip on it with both hands? I’m not exactly a featherweight OR an acrobat,” she muttered sarcastically. She groaned softly and dropped her head to her hands. Could life get a LITTLE crazier? She probably shouldn’t even ASK that question; the way her life was going these days, there was no telling what else might happen.

With a sigh, she shoved her hair back from her face and shuffled through the stack of paper in front of her. Somewhere in this mess was the information for the report her boss had asked her for last week. She’d intended to get it done, but then life happened and she’d had to be out of the office for a few days. If only she had… but… no, she was NOT going to think about all of that right now. If she did… she shook her head and went back to digging through the stack of papers.

What a morning! Her alarm hadn’t gone off, there wasn’t any hot water, she couldn’t find her car keys, she didn’t have time to pack a lunch, and traffic had been backed up on the interstate because people were rubbernecking at an accident on the other side of the highway. What WERE those people thinking? Seriously! Argh!! Not only had she been late, but her boss had stopped her at the front door asking about the report she was supposed to have finished last week… and he wanted it by noon! It’d be a stretch, but maybe, just maybe, she could do it… IF she could find that information she needed. Where WAS it?!

Her phone rang, and as she turned to answer it, her elbow hit the stack she’d been sorting through, knocking it off the desk and sending papers flying everywhere. Great! One more thing to deal with… “Hello,” she said in as cheerful a voice as she could manage, “Facilities Management, can I help you?”

“Hey, Rae-Ellen, this is Joe, upstairs, and I just thought I’d let you know that there appears to be a problem with the women’s restroom up here. The hallway’s flooded, and that’s where the water seems to be coming from. You think you could get someone up here to take care of this before we all float away?”

“Wonderful! Maybe I should build an ark… what ELSE can go wrong today?” she thought sarcastically… and sighed. “Sure, Joe, I’ll see what I can do.”

After putting in a quick call to the maintenance guys, she hung up the phone and got up to go find the housekeeping crew and a mop, stopping long enough to scoop the papers from the floor into one big messy pile and dump them in her chair. As she turned to leave, she noticed that the paper on top was the one she’d been looking for. Well, at least THAT was good news. She’d start on that report just as soon as she got back from checking out the flood upstairs.

She opted for the stairs. The elevator was old and slow, and who knows, with the way her day was going, it’d probably get stuck between floors or something. When she reached the “flooded” hallway, she discovered a small trickle of water running out from under the women’s restroom door. This was the flood that was causing such panic? It figured. She sighed and stepped carefully over the water and opened the door. Propping it open with the trash can, she looked around. Yup, one of the toilets was malfunctioning. Water was running out in a slow but steady stream from the pipe at the back of the toilet. Well, there wasn’t much she could do about it, she thought, just as she heard Dave, the maintenance guy bang on the door. “Maintenance!”

“Yeah, Dave… c’mon in here. It’s the pipe on the back of this toilet. It appears to have sprung a leak.” “A’ight, Rae, I’ll take care of it. Leave the door propped open so that no ladies come in here. I’ll shut it when I leave.” She left him to his work, and passed Jane, the housekeeping lead, mopping up the water in the hallway. “Thanks, Jane.” “Sure.”

She made her way back downstairs to her office. She picked up the top paper from the pile on her chair and propped it on her keyboard before scooping up the rest of the pile and depositing it on the corner of her desk. Maybe at some point today she could get to straightening that pile out, but first, the report.

She breathed a sigh of relief when, three hours and six interruptions later, she had the report done. She hit save and waited for a few seconds for the computer to save the report. Opening a new email message, she attached the report, addressed the email, and sent it off to her boss. Well, at least she’d accomplished ONE thing today. That was progress!

Pushing back from her desk, she grabbed her car keys and her purse, and walked toward the door. “Hey, Sarah, I’m headed to lunch. You want anything?” “No, I brought my lunch in today. Have a good lunch. I’ll see you when you get back. Oh, and don’t forget that we have that staff meeting this afternoon. We’re supposed to meet the new director.” “Oh, yeah, I forgot about that. Thanks for reminding me. I’ll see ya in a bit.”

She unlocked her car and slid into the front seat. She yelped as she touched the seatbelt. That thing was HOT! Gingerly, she worked to get her seatbelt buckled, and then started the car. Cranking up the AC, she backed the car out of the spot and headed for the nearest fast food restaurant. If she could just get something quick, she could take it back and eat it in her car, and squeeze in a few minutes of Bible reading and prayer. She NEEDED that… probably more than food. Twenty minutes later, she pulled back into the parking lot – the fast food sack on the seat beside her. Putting the car into park, she rolled down the windows and killed the engine. Maybe she wouldn’t roast too badly; there was a fairly decent breeze blowing… if you call 20 mph winds a breeze, she thought with a grin.

She bowed her head and prayed for the food, and then dug in. After she’d managed to take the edges off of her hunger, she wiped her hands on a paper napkin, and reached for her Bible. She flipped pages, looking for something good to read, something that would fit her situation and give her what she needed to get her through the day. Hmm… this looked good…

“The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust: my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower. I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies. … In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried unto my God: he heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears. … He sent from above, he took me, he drew me out of many waters. He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from them which hated me: for they were too strong for me. They prevented me in the day of my calamity: but the Lord was my stay. He brought me forth also into a large place; he delivered me, because he delighted in me. … As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the Lord is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him. For who is God save the Lord? or who is a rock save our God? It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect. He maketh my feet like hinds’ feet, and setteth me upon my high places. … Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy right hand hath holden me up, and thy gentleness hath made me great. Thou hast enlarged my steps under me, that my feet did not slip. … He delivereth me from mine enemies: yea, thou liftest me up above those that rise up against me: thou hast delivered me from the violent man. Therefore will I give thanks unto thee, O Lord, among the heathen, and sing praises unto thy name.”

She gazed out the window across the parking lot, thinking about what she’d read. God would be her help; he would be her deliverer, and her strength. He would be her protection and her help. She looked back at her Bible, and read again, “Thy right hand hath holden me up…” Her thoughts went back to the card she’d tossed on her desk that morning. No, she couldn’t tie a knot in a rope she was hanging onto, but when she got to the end of that rope, she had someone that would hold her up. She didn’t have to depend on the rope… because God was there. She thought about the way her day had gone so far, and realized that even though all the circumstances may have been the same, if she had stopped in her mad rush that morning to ask God to be with her, her attitude would have been better. Leaning her head back against the headrest, she closed her eyes and asked God to help her with her attitudes and to give her the grace to make it through the rest of the day. The problems might still be there, but she had a helper, a protector, a friend and a Rock to lean on. She didn’t want to forget that again.

Rolling up the window, she got out of the car, locked it, and headed back to work with a smile on her face. Maybe she should share this with her coworker, Sarah… after all, the fact she had given her the card had showed she cared, and she wanted her to know that she was going to make it through this.

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