Wishbone Assumptions

Wishbone Assumptions

During worship one Sunday, I saw an image of a wishbone. God held one side and offered me the other. Somehow, I knew if I pulled it, I’d end up with the short end.

I said to God, “What’s this about?” All at once, I heard in my spirit—disappointment in relationships.

Interestingly, the sermon that followed was about God’s desire for us to be one with Him—as in marriage. The wishbone was a signal to examine any wrong assumptions I held about God because of painful human relationships.

If you’re wounded in marriage, it’s hard to understand the “mystery” that Paul writes about in Ephesians 5.

For some, disappointment in relationships stretches back to earlier hurts with parents. Unresolved wounds in our original relationships play out in all current interactions.

Pastor Kim Unrau told his story as an example. Kim had a great dad—a dad who tucked him in, said “I love you” out loud, and told Kim he could be anything he wanted. His dad was stable and worked hard to provide, but also spent long hours away from the family, “advancing the kingdom.”

When Kim examined the past more closely, he realized his disappointment. He was living under several assumptions: First, that his father didn’t have much time for him. Secondly, when his father was around, he didn’t listen to him or pursue his heart. And finally, his dad always tried to fix him with pastoral platitudes. You could see the pain in Kim’s face as he shared.

Though Kim idolized his father, he was hurt by him. Left unresolved, those same assumptions shadowed his relationships with other men in authority.

Invariably, disappointment with people spills over into disappointment with God.

Around that time, my friend Pastor Jim Tharp wrote an article in Christian Renewal Ministries Journal. He pointed out that Christians coexist with many ongoing sins in their lives. He named a few, including the sin of “prolonged discouragement.”

Wait a minute! Did I read that right?

Discouragement is a normal human emotion for crying out loud! It often comes from perpetual disappointment, long trials, great loss and deferred hope—most of which involve relationships! How could that be sinful?

I wrote Jim an email.

He replied immediately and basically said the following: We open our front door to many things that block our connection with God. Take fear, for instance. If we have a tendency to worry, we allow fear into our house of thoughts. Eventually it takes up residence and starts to grow roots. We get used to it—even vacuum around it. In essence, fear has “place” in our lives because we agree with it.

Think of the Garden of Eden. The enemy had no power over Eve until she agreed with the serpent.

Discouragement is no different. Someone once called it the wedge in the enemy’s toolbox, because it gradually works its way into our lives. Prolonged discouragement means disappointments have been piling up for awhile.

The bottom line is prolonged discouragement counters a life of faith. If we’re not growing spiritually in spite of disappointment, we leave room for unbelief and all its minions. This can be an overwhelming struggle for those who have suffered in terrible relationships or who are pessimistic in nature.

When I finished reading Jim’s email, I paused and apologized to God for holding on to disappointment and discouragement, instead of looking to Him.

evening tree

God gave me a symbolic dream to illustrate Jim’s point.

In the dream, I am standing in front of a gnarly dead tree. Silhouetted by the moonlight, it looks dark and menacing. I say, “That thing has to go!” I walk up and grab a thin branch, thinking I can pull it out. Of course the twig breaks off instead.

However, right then, an enormous yellow Caterpillar truck with mechanical pincers rolls up behind the tree. The operator wraps the grippers around the wide trunk. With one heave, the machine yanks the tree out of the ground, roots and all, discarding it like a small weed. The scene took my breath away. I woke up abruptly, my heart pounding hard.

“What on earth, Lord???”

Caterpillar truckGod essentially said, ”That twisted tree could be fear or discouragement or worry or anger or bitterness or just about anything you’ve given “place” to in your life. You can’t pulled it out, but as soon as you break agreement with it, I can.”

When I said that thing has to go, that was the first step—a decision. The next step involved taking action. The broken twig symbolized breaking agreement with the enemy. And God came right away to do the heavy lifting.

Do you want intimacy with God? What dead trees are in the way? What are your wishbone assumptions?


  1. Jennifer Long :

    Wow…. on time as God always is. Exactly what is going on in my life. Thank you Susan. I am also reading Beth Moore’s book, Breaking Free, and this tied into place. Today when you hear His voice, do not let your heart harden….today I listen to that Voice, and I break agreement with fear, worry, discouragement, anger, bitterness…. Yank out those ugly roots… In Jesus Name…

  2. oh my gosh,
    what a powerful picture of “even vacuuming around it”, our fear. rooted. and agreements are the culprit. wonderful wonderful reminders and a rocking heavy duty dream from god. i see him at the wheel of the caterpillar truck. i am ENCOURAGED today. thank you, darling. wowzers.
    suzee B

  3. This is really good, Susan! I mean REALLY GOOD! I just finished reading “Forgiving the Unforgivable” by David Stoop. I am hoping to use this book in teaching a class at our church next fall. Your article ties in great with this book. If I end up doing it, I’d like your permission to share your article with the class. It’s a powerful illustration. Love you..Erli