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Posts Tagged ‘trials’

The Secret to Life

friend

She’s small and often shy.  She flies up to the clouds and sits with the sun whenever unimportant words are spoken.  She gazes off.  She runs away.  All her life she waits for an opening in the conversation.

He’s strong.  He’s loud.  He gets his matter-of-fact bluntness and good judge of character honest.  He’s street smart.  He falls in and out of fury over that which is most important.  He drives every conversation.

She’s small.  He’s strong.  She’s shy.  He’s loud.  She flies.  He’s blunt.  She gazes.  He’s street smart.  She runs.  He falls.  She waits.  He drives.

They love.  No matter what, they love.

She’s zealous.  He’s zealous.  They both have a fire that rages against all odds and opposition.   She’s inconsistent.  He’s inconsistent.  She fails.  He fails.  She cries.  He cries.

They love.  No matter what, they love.

She hurts.  He hurts.  She’s bitter.  He’s bitter.  She prays.  He prays.  She forgives.  He forgives.

They love.  No matter what, they love.

She rides on.  She wades through an ocean of pain.  Her white dress is tattered, wet, and dirty.  Still, she sings.  She searches.  She learns.  She loses.

He waits.  He wavers.  He wonders.  He moves on.  He heals.  “Onward,” he commands, “knock loudly upon yonder’s door.”

She rides. He waits.  She wades.  He wavers.  She sings.  He wonders.  She searches.  He moves.  She learns.  He heals.  She loses.  He commands.

They love.  No matter what, they love.

The secret to life is not winning.  It is not pleasure or pain or wisdom or knowledge.  It is not favorable circumstances or power or position or wealth.  The secret to life is love.  Knowing so allows us to love the men who hate and expel us with the same tenderness we do our own children.  Let it be said of me that no matter what men may do to me, I will refuse to love them any less.

No matter what, love them anyway.  For that is all that matters in all things at all times.

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love. ~Galatians 5:6

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hill

“Have you done this before?”

“Yes.”

“Then you know the second half is much more forgiving.”

Spoken by a stranger long into mile five of eleven on the bike course, wisdom seized its opportunity to whisper to my stubborn heart in the middle of a hellbent hill mid-race.

I have been showing up for this triathlon on and off between pregnancies for the past eleven years.  I have probably run it six or seven times.  The bike portion is full of steep hills the entire first half and the second half has just a few more killer hills but they are sporadic and more rolling.

This is what my fellow competitor was speaking of.  God was saying something else, though.  In the quiet pain of a rainy morning ride up and down the steep countryside, His Spirit awakened mine to His perfect peace.  The reason is because these words are true of life itself.

The things we have done before – the pain of hardships we have already experienced and gone through make way for grace.  If I have already been down the same road I now find myself on once again, I already know that the middle part is the height of its difficulty.  The middle part – where almost all the dig-deep, heart-ready-to-fail hills are behind and only a few free falls are up ahead – that  is where I am most exhausted.  That is where I am most tempted to give up and give in to every fleshly urge to count it all a cruel, vain loss.  Since I already know I am though the thick of it, I also already know that I am most definitely going to make it.  I already know that this test is half over.  I already know the second part is much more about finding freedom and forgiveness than it is about full out force and feverish duress.  And, because I know all those things, I also know exactly where I am in this race.  I know exactly where I am going.  I know exactly how strong I really am, and I know that being a repeat contender, by very nature, makes me exactly who I am.

The truth is that I would not be here – I would not be back here – if I was not sure-up surrendered and sincerely sold-out to the seriousness and sobriety of my training and the dire importance of my work.

It is often only after repeated high hills and low valleys that we find forgiveness waiting for we who are wounded from the winning.  We find that forgiveness not solely for ourselves, but for the foes who fought us fierce all the way to our finish.  Why?  Because they served a purpose.  That purpose was our proving ground.

If you find yourself climbing heart-failing hills only to finish and find them in front of you again, do not be discouraged.  Instead, remember the kind strangers’ words of encouragement and secret wisdom.  If you have done this before, you know the second half is much more forgiving.

Drive on.

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Image 

Job is looking for God.  He searches, forward, backward, left, and right, yet he finds not his friend.  Job is frustrated, but he is not without hope.  Here is his consolation:

“Behold, I go forward, but he is not there,
    and backward, but I do not perceive him;
9 on the left hand when he is working, I do not behold him;
    he turns to the right hand, but I do not see him.
10 But he knows the way that I take;
    when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.
11 My foot has held fast to his steps;
    I have kept his way and have not turned aside.
12 I have not departed from the commandment of his lips;
    I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my portion of food. ~Job 23:8-12

“He knows the way that I take.”  Job trusts in God’s sovereignty and justice.  Although he cannot find God, he knows that God cannot lose him.  Not only that, but he trusts also that the fire of adversity is good for him saying, “I shall come out as gold.”  Trust + faith = hope.

Furthermore, Job has a clean conscience.  He maintains his innocence and he reminds his hearers of how precious and highly esteemed he has always regarded God’s Word.  Job loves God’s Word.  He places it above even his physical food.  He may be confused and irritated, but he is not guilty or wishy-washy.  You can take the boy from his comforts, but you can’t take the Comforter from the boy.

Job goes on to observe that man cannot force the hand of God (Job 23:13-17.)  “What he desires, he does.”  This is a fearful reality for Job, at least at this point.  He’s been through so much already, after all, he fears what may happen next.  Although he believes in and trusts his God to make him better through it, at first he is crippled by the fear of going through it in God’s absence, (remember – he can’t find God) but in the next breath he is terrified at the thought of God’s presence.

Job came not only to a contradiction, but to a wrong conclusion.  What should have been a comfort, he began to see as something to be dreaded.  Such are the inconsistencies exhibited in every Christian’s life.  

At times, God is pleased to hide his face from even his most precious children.  He calls us to deeper trust; stronger faith.  He longs to give us unshakable hope in the midst of the darkest circumstances.  I have no idea why.  Surely there could have been another way, right?  An easier, less painful way?  But what he desires, he does.  Just ask Jesus.

Whether we feel his presence of not, God draws us into a place where we must treasure his Word and hold fast to his promises.  

It is tempting to become inconsistent and contradictory in our Christian walk when we cannot find Our Father in the middle of dark and undeserved circumstances.  Some days the absence of God begins to look less dreadful than his all-consuming presence.  But to whom shall we go?  

Thankfully, although we cannot always find God, he can never lose us.  He alone has the words of eternal life.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CYV7hpD9JTI

 

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ImageDavid has fled from his own home in order to avoid Saul and his men.  Why?  Because they were a group of homicidal maniacs!  He’s cried out to God and confided in the godly prophet, Samuel.

David, in his youth, has had more than a few triumphs afforded to him by God’s grace.  He’s been given extraordinary strength and exceptional gifts from God’s hand.  Nevertheless, he’s also had quite a run of bad luck.  He’s got a king whose jealousy hates and fears him, superiors lined up to kill him, and a wife who’s betrayed him.  God was extremely good and gracious to David, but the fire of adversity burned hot as well.

Often, those who experience the most miraculous victories suffer the most difficult trials. (more…)

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