Tag Archives: philosophy

Testing, Testing, 1, 2, 3…

In our convenience-driven, consumer-dominated society, patience is often in short supply.  This is especially true when we are tested.  The Bible tells us that we are to “count it all joy…when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness” (James 1:2-3).  Notice that these trials are not one’s that you seek out.  In other words, don’t go looking for trouble and then decide that God is testing you for your spiritual development.  Secondly, “meeting” a trial indicates an encounter, not an avoidance.  Yet we often buy in to the lie that just because something is difficult, it must not be God’s will, or must not be worth the effort.  When God appoints a trial to greet you, according to Scripture, it is with the intention that you will confront it, learn something from it, and the result will be steadfastness.  To be steady is to be constant, solid, strong, and certain.  Verse four says that when steadfastness has its “full effect,” you will be complete and lacking nothing.  It is not speaking of material wealth, but intangibles that are beyond value.  In fact, the next few verses speak directly about wisdom – an intangible that applies to every other area of your life.  Who possesses it? God does.  Is He stingy?  Never.  He “gives generously to all.”  Notice that full steadfastness lacks nothing – that includes wisdom.  The number one obstacle to becoming steadfast and managing trials is often a lack of wisdom.  The one condition for receiving wisdom?  Believe and do not doubt (verses 6-8).  Keep your eyes focused on Jesus – the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  Don’t get distracted.  Remain steadfast and the ultimate reward is a crown of life.  Is it a physical crown?  No.  The crown is not of gold or silver, but of “life.” What does it look like to be crowned with life?  Doesn’t that sound awesome!?  Rather than simply envisioning a fragrant garland of flowers, I imagine a legacy of bringing life to others, hope, compassion, and the love of Jesus.  I picture Mother Teresa, Oskar Schindler, and more recently Gary Sinise.  What an incredible legacy – to have so many lives touched in potent and eternal ways.  That is the kind of crown that far exceeds anything created by precious metals and stones.  So how do we sum up this loaded short passage of Scripture?  Be joyful – content and at peace, with thankfulness – when you are tested.  Ask the Lord for wisdom as you confront the challenge, and remember the lessons learned from it.  Over time, you will become more steady, patient, confident and complete.  This transformation is not going to happen overnight, but it will happen if you keep your eyes focused on Jesus.

 

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Security vs. Significance

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Significance is a noun indicating, “the quality of being important…having notable worth or influence.”  Each human being is important, so says John 3:16, and whether they realize their worth or feel influential or not, each life impacts everything in its environment.  I have often underestimated the significance of my own existence, preferring to remain comfortable in the shadow of my wonderful husband’s contagiously animated and outgoing nature.  When given the option, I have settled for security more often than not.  Security may be defined as, “the state of being protected or safe from harm.”  Safety may be thought of in physical terms, but I would submit that it is more often related to emotional comfort that is coveted, whether that is borne from fear of being alienated, different, or simply being uncertain which direction is best.  How many of us have determined at some point of decision, not to make a decision at all, simply because you know and understand where you are, and may be too afraid to take the “wrong” next step?  So foolish are we who act as though our security can ever be found in the shadows, in keeping quiet, or in hiding behind excuses or other human beings!  The Psalms are full of praises to God for His protection.  Psalm 32:7, “You are my hiding place; you protect me from distress. You surround me with shouts of joy from those celebrating deliverance.” Psalm 73:28 says, “But as for me, God’s presence is all I need. I have made the sovereign Lord my shelter…” Psalm 119:57 tells us, “The Lord is my source of security…” I cannot hide from the world and be an effective, significant support to the Church.

Significant is an adjective, defined by Merriam-Webster as, “large enough to be noticed or have an effect.” When I look back at “significant” events in my own life, I think about the “light bulb” moments – times when a new truth became clear – times when overwhelming darkness gave way to peace – times when someone dared to risk their own emotional or physical security to reach out to me. “Large enough” doesn’t have to be huge. It could be that a simple note of encouragement, a hug, or time spent praying on behalf of another that makes all the difference in the world. No one lives in complete isolation, and attempting to isolate yourself isn’t “safe” – it’s lazy (speaking from experience). Baby steps are a fantastic start – but start you must if you ever wish to finish the race that God has uniquely marked out for you. Trust that His plan is not only the most significant of your life, but the only one that will also provide all the security you’ll ever need. It’s time to step out of the shadows and engage…

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