Tag Archives: Trials

What’s love got to do with it?

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ImageToday’s entry is going to get twisty-turny in where we end up here so come along for the ride.  This has been a tough week.  I can sum up how things have been going by two events that I experienced yesterday and another from earlier in the week.  

I was in my car trying to eat something for lunch and get back to my job in a reasonable amount of time.  Admittedly I was driving and eating at the same time which was probably not the best choice.  Further, I made the poor decision of choosing to eat from a container of cole slaw that came with the basically average fried chicken meal not meeting my expectations.  

I got the brilliant idea to put a plastic bag on my lap to hold the fold up cardboard box that my meal was presented in.  I opened the coleslaw and was pretty much savoring it when I realized my pants and “sitting area” were getting a cool sensation that didn’t feel normal.  I turned off the road to investigate what was going on and I found that juice from the coleslaw container was seeping out and running down my leg to my buttocks.  My pants soaked up the liquid like a dry sponge.   I got back to work, rushed to the bathroom, took off my pants and doused them with water.  Thankfully, I found a blow dryer to absorb most of the water and uncomfortably headed back to my work space.  For about an hour I felt like I was sitting in a wet bathing suit.  I laughed about the incident with my colleague and filed it in my mental cabinet under lessons to learn.  

Later in the day I picked up my daughter.  I parked and went to meet her.  As I got closer I realized my right sandal was sticking to the ground with a greater connection to the cement than the left one.  Yes, I had stepped in gum and there was a nice clump of grass attached to it.   Again to a bathroom to try and clean up the mess I had gotten myself into.  It was gross and disgusting.

Earlier in the week as I walked my dog a neighbor’s pet ran out to let my dog know who was chief.  He showed his teeth and took a patch of fur from my dog’s curly locks.  There was no yiping involved so I assume in doggie communication some restraint was shown by the big bad dog that chased after mine and he was basically saying let it be known, I’m the boss.  After I gave the attacking dog my best Cesar Milan “ch” and then sternly said no, the dog cowered a bit and went back to his home.  My dog went about her merry way.  The joke of it is my dog just wants to have fun.  She’s not looking to be boss of anything.  I guess the approaching dog just needed to make sure of that. 

Those silly incidents sum up the week I’ve had in all areas of my life.  And I’ve been questioning a lot.  Not about cole slaw and gum- why God why?  No, those types of situations just demonstrate the craziness that surrounds me- often because of my own poor choices.  Sometimes to no fault of my own.  They make the tougher life issues palatable in some way perhaps?  Maybe they just put a real spin on how I sometimes take my life issues too seriously.  

At work I’ve been battling against the forces of non-sensical decision making and it’s tiring.  I question back and forth is it maybe me that’s not making sense?  Can a system invented by so many well meaning and smart people be so off course? 

I listen to the rantings on radio programs about what political view is right and why the other party is so wrong.  I hear stories in the daily news about current events that involve one group of the masses vying to get a first look at the new born future King of England and another group trying to make sense out of a devastating life altering event that has people greatly divided and arguing over racism and gun laws.

Locally, a family man went out for a run the other evening and didn’t come back.  A search party has been looking for three days.  He was finally found, dead, by a construction worker who was working in the area.  There may be foul play and there may not be.  It has not been determined yet.  Whatever the outcome, the lives of so many people are impacted by this devastating turn of events.  

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How does God maintain all of this?  How does he watch over it all?  What does He choose to be involved in and what does He watch from afar?  How does He say I need to let my people handle this on their own and how does He live with the poor choices people make when He chooses to step back and let them happen?  Is my current life struggle really important to Him?  Should I just handle it on my own and not involve Him? 

I try to humanize God because it’s what I can relate to.  I know we are made in His image so that leads me to take a literal view and assume that what I feel He feels.  

And there’s Jesus.  The way He managed life on earth day to day is beyond my scope of understanding.  I know the frustration of being surrounded by a dozen people with varying skill levels and opinions and trying to get them all to work toward the same common goal.  He’s the epitome of delegation and finesse.  And I need to study that more.  

He didn’t care about being popular.  He cared about doing what was right.  He cared about people – especially people no one else cared about- and didn’t pay mind to what anyone else thought of Him and His actions.

Are my issues important in light of all that is happening around me?  Is my pain insignificant in a world where people are giving up their lives for important causes, where people hunger and thirst, where types of people are treated abominably?

Once again, I have forgotten He is God.  He created the heavens, earth, stars, moon, sun, water, vegetation, animals, oceans and people. That should be enough to recognize His power and ability as well as making creative solutions.

ImageIn the Bible it says to imitate God (Eph 5)- live a life of love.  What’s love? Patience, kindess, not envious or boastful.  It’s not rude or selfish.  Love makes anger come slowly and it doesn’t keep track of what someone did wrong. It doesn’t delight in evil and loves truth.  Love protects, trusts, hopes and perseveres.

This makes me wonder if a lot of things that I think are important God is simply not concerned with because it’s not about love.  I’m probably due for a priority check.  If I wrote down the things that drove me crazy this week would they really be that important?  More important, did I show love this week?  Did I experience love this week?  Did I give love away?  Maybe love is the issue I should check myself on regularly.  

I cannot understand why people hate people who are not like themselves.  I can’t understand why a good friend would succomb to a terrible illness.  I can’t understand why people I work with can’t recognize the challenges they feed into with their choices.  I can’t understand why my husband and I can feel completely opposite on a current event issue.  Hey, I can’t understand why another dog isn’t nice to my dog.  I can’t understand why my daughter wants to have a lunch box of a certain style because a popular girl has one.  

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I can understand love.  I get what it means to be patient, kind, not envious or proud.  I know how to do that.  I get slowness to anger, not being boastful, trust and perseverance.  These are things I can work on.  I probably need a list near me to remind myself, but I can address each of my daily issues in light of love and maybe feel different about my life.  I’m going to put it to the test.  Hopefully I’ll have good news to report next time I write.  

If I fail, and it’s likely I’ll have a bit of failure along the way, I’ll remember sitting in cole slaw sauce and walking on a chunk of furry gum.   Then maybe I’ll look at myself in the mirror and say, “ch” the Cesar Milan way.  Most importantly, I’ll push to remember love and what it  means.  That God loves us which means all of those characteristics that define love, define God. 

There are just some unanswerable questions in life that we don’t understand.  He does.  What I constantly remind myself is that life on this earth is not what it’s all about.  We are here for a temporary purpose.  It’s what’s on the other side that is the long run and what we hope for in Christ Jesus.

Love has a lot to do with it, but it’s Jesus’ love, and not our own that has made the difference.  That’s what love has to do with it. 

 

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Endurance Training

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Endurance Training

From the book of James:

 

Consider yourselves fortunate when all kinds of trials come your way, for you know when your faith succeeds in facing such trials, the result is the ability to endure. 

 

But be sure your endurance carries you all the way, without failing, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. 

 

But if any of you lacks wisdom, he should pray to God, who will give it to him; for God gives generously and graciously to all. 

 

But you must believe when you pray, and not doubt at all. 

 

For whoever doubts is like a wave in the sea that is driven and blown about by the wind. Any such person must not think that he will receive anything from the Lord, for he is unsure and undecided in every step he takes.

 

Wow.  I am completely struck by these powerful words.

As I rewrote this passage I broke it apart to help reflect on each segment with emphasis.  I’ve re-read it more than a dozen times now.  The impact of understanding these words is possibly beyond my comprehension.  There is a lot going on in this message.

 

James is not the only reference in the Bible that talks about the benefit of trials and the resulting endurance that is advantageous.  The idea of going through trials and having to endure sounds a bit negative.  How can tough times be good for me?

 

As scary as it may sound, the way the verse is written implies to me trials will come from any number of directions…and we are fortunate to have that. Not sure I’m buying it yet.   However the statement isn’t complete at being fortunate when trials come your way.  It flows into the idea of having to have faith and it is with that faith that you can face your trials resulting in greater endurance.

 

Why do we need that greater endurance?  Perhaps God is being compassionate because He knows that trials are inevitable in our sinful world.  He is providing us the directions for dealing with them.  As more trials come along and we trust in the Lord, the more it takes to get us agitated about them.

 

When I was in college we had to take a swimming test or class to graduate.  I know it sounds bizarre, but it was true.  Most people took the test.  I decided to take the class.  I wasn’t a great swimmer and I wanted the exercise so it was a great way to improve and try to keep in shape.  From the beginning we had to do laps.  I won’t even tell you how few laps I was actually able to accomplish at the start.  Let’s just say I was in the bottom of the pack.  However, the more I did it, the greater my endurance became and the more laps I was able to swim. I kept improving and quickly.  With that, I totally get the idea of endurance and to be good at it you have to practice over and over and over again.

 

So now I’m getting that I must have trials to enact my faith to build my endurance to have greater faith so I can get through more trials.  I’d really prefer the no trials route, but our imperfect world will not allow for that.

 

Trials are going to happen.  Endurance will be built and in doing so you will be perfect, complete and lacking nothing.  God will give you what you need.  He is generous.  The important thing is to believe with all your heart that God will provide for you.  You mustn’t have a doubt about that.   Without faith in His ability things will be rocky.  If endurance is hard He says pray to me.  I will give you the wisdom you need.  However, you MUST believe I can do it.

 

I look back at key times in my life where I faced enormous trials, but I didn’t believe.  I didn’t face the challenge head on.  The result was that I didn’t feel I could endure. I stumbled and faltered.  I went through tremendous pain…until I finally gave in and said to God- you win.  It’s in your hands.    When I got that far…surprise…the waves were calmed.  God makes sure I have at least everything I need.  It may not be everything I want….thank you for that, God.

 

It is at these times that I find a peace that passes all human understanding.  I free]myself from the chains of doubt.  I can make sound decisions and logical choices.  I use the skills that God created in me to move closer to His purposes.

 

Don’t be surprised by your trials .  But you are not alone by any means.  A power much greater than anyone or anything around you is in force.  Follow Him.  Pray.  Push through and endure all the way to the end.  Do not doubt in Him. In this way you will  be perfect and complete- lacking nothing.  Bring it on!