Wednesday, March 1, 2017

A month ago

It was about a month ago that I first had an inkling of what this bend in the road might include.  So far it's been a slow journey, and I'm feeling a bit like a frog that was thrown in hot water and has now acclimated to the new temperature.

It's kind of strange how you know something big is happening and yet everything seems much like it was.  So it has been a strange month and before too much time passed I wanted to share with you the devotion from New Morning Mercies by Paul Trip that I read a month ago just after the doctor's visit that suggested some of the physical experiences I might have on this journey.

February 1

Sure you'll face difficulty.  God is prying open your fingers so you let go of your dreams, rest in his comforts, and take up his call.

Think about the words penned by Peter near the beginning of his New Testament letter: "Now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith- more precious than gold that perishes though it it tested by fire- may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (1 Pet. 1:6-7).

As he opens his letter, Peter gives us a past-present-future summary of God's redemptive plan, but his interest is really in what God is doing right here, right now between Christ's first and second comings.  Of all the words that he could use to describe what God is doing now, he selects these three:  grieved, trials, and tested.  These are three words that most of us hope would never describe our lives.  None of us gets up in the morning and prays, "Lord, if you love me, you will send more suffering my way today."  Rather, when we are living in the middle of difficulty, we are tempted to view it as a sign of God's unfaithfulness or inattention.

Peter, however, doesn't see moments of difficulty as objects in the way of God's plan or indication of the failure of God's plan.  No for him, they are an important part of God's plan.  Rather than being signs of his inattention, they are sure signs of the zeal of his redemptive love.  In grace, he leads you where you didn't plan to go in order to produce in you what you couldn't achieve on your own.   In these moments, he works to alter the values of your heart so that you let go of your little kingdom of one and give yourself to his kingdom of glory and grace.  (emphasis mine)

God is working right now, but not so much to give us predictable, comfortable, and pleasurable lives. He isn't so much working to transform our circumstances as he is working through hard circumstances to transform you and me.  Perhaps in hard moments, when we are tempted to wonder where God's grace is, it is grace that we are getting, but not grace in the form of a soft pillow or a cool drink.  Rather, in those moments, we are being blessed with the heart-transforming grace of difficulty because the God who loves us knows that is exactly what grace we need.  

For further study and encouragement:  James 1:2-11

I truly am amazed that at this time God would remind me that the true itinerary of this journey is not things like chemo and surgery, but rather His work to make me like His Son and bring himself praise and glory.  May His will be done and His kingdom come!

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