How many times have you been a place where you really didn’t want to go. I’m not talking about places to eat, family times, church service, dentist office, or even that holiday play at Christmas. I’m talking about that place in your life where God is walking you through what feels like to much to handle. Yesterday, I sat in church and couldn’t keep my eyes dry for a “New York Minute”. I watched my Pastor since my “growing up years”, from his wheelchair preach an anointed message of “Rest, Relief, and Refreshment”! It was the first time I had sat through an entire service and listen to him preach in 14 years. I still remember the day when I heard the news that he and his son where in a car accident, that drastically changed his world. Pastor, thank you for modeling those times in your own personal life. Pastor, thank you for speaking truth in multiple ways this morning. It was life giving and powerful for me.
Later in the day, I began to think to myself about the places that I find myself. The tired feelings, the emotional stress, the tons of minutes spent thinking, dreaming, wishing, and praying. Sometimes fear consumes me. Sometimes bewilderment follows me. Sometimes just the thought of not understanding overtakes me.
Then I began to think about what God is doing in my life. How He is creating me to be who He wants me to be. He is not necessarily consumed with the path that I wish I was on, but He is totally taking me on an adventure to be more like Him. These feelings are not just for me, but I think they are for us all. God is taking us to a place that we don’t necessarily think that we can go to. Sometimes it hurts too much. Sometimes it is not a familiar place. Sometimes it is a place that brings us to the end of ourselves. Most of the time it is a place that takes us to the place that brings us to total dependence on Him, not our own self.
Then I remembered with the words of James 1:1-8, 12-18…from the Message Translation…
1 I, James, am a slave of God and the Master Jesus, writing to the twelve tribes scattered to Kingdom Come: Hello!
Faith Under Pressure
2-4 Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.
5-8 If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who “worry their prayers” are like wind-whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open.
12 Anyone who meets a testing challenge head-on and manages to stick it out is mighty fortunate. For such persons loyally in love with God, the reward is life and more life.
13-15 Don’t let anyone under pressure to give in to evil say, “God is trying to trip me up.” God is impervious to evil, and puts evil in no one’s way. The temptation to give in to evil comes from us and only us. We have no one to blame but the leering, seducing flare-up of our own lust. Lust gets pregnant, and has a baby: sin! Sin grows up to adulthood, and becomes a real killer.
16-18 So, my very dear friends, don’t get thrown off course. Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light. There is nothing deceitful in God, nothing two-faced, nothing fickle. He brought us to life using the true Word, showing us off as the crown of all his creatures.
Did you catch verse 2, “…when tests and challenges come at you from all sides.” It is not ‘if”, but it is WHEN!
They are going to come! It is life. And sometimes it is hard and it hurts. But they are going to come. They change us. They make us better. They cause us to become more like Him!
I don’t know about you, but I want His ways to be my ways! I want to be more like Him!
Do You? If so, when ‘they’ come… Consider them a SHEER GIFT!