Monday, October 11, 2010

Faith Under Construction

In the last few weeks, the media/worship team at work has been reading through the book The Power of a Whisper .  One of the challenges of our study together is to just take time to sit, pray, listen to God and spend time in our Bibles.

Taking the time to actually read my Bible and pray has always been difficult for me.  I think it is somewhat compounded by the fact that I work at a church, and therefore I justify that it is OK if I don't make time to do what I know I should (even though I don't take the time at work to read the Bible, either).  The first week of the challenge, I didn't do much of anything.  I read my chapters in that book, read my Financial Peace homework, read my school work...and then I was done.  I didn't have time left in my day or my brain to pick up my Bible.  Sad (and wrong), I know.

Fast-forward to last night - I was heading to bed, and decided I would grab my Bible and try to read a little from some passage.  For years, my go-to book when I don't have something specific planned has been the book of James in the New Testament.  Full of practical advice, easy to understand, and always comforting and challenging to me, I have loved it since I read it it my first Bible back in high school.  So, last night, I decided to re-read James.  My plan was to read a few verses of this familiar book, mark it off my to-do list, and go on with my night.

Turns out, God had different plans.  After progressing just four verses into James,  I felt like I was, for the first time, truly learning an old lesson.  In verses 2-4 it says,

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."

I have always taken that verse only at face value - that when my faith is tested, I should be joyful and know that God is working something out in me.  I still think that is true.  What hit me last night, however, is that this doesn't just have to be about the times my Christianity is challenged, but about the times when anything in my life is going a little wrong.  The "many kinds" of trials are more than just when people challenge my faith - it's when someone makes fun of my friends or someone speaks poorly of my family; it's when I'm offended by a Facebook status or political campaign; it's when someone or something I love becomes a target; it's when life doesn't go like I think it should or like I planned it to.  These circumstances are all trials, and they are all being used by God to develop me as a person.

Those trials create in me a desire to do right, to see justice done, to live a life worthy of God as I pursue my hopes and dreams.  Also, it is not just about me and my faith being questioned, it is also about God caring for those who question and challenge!

I know this isn't a new truth, but sometimes I need to be reminded of the simple things, too - that God is still working on me and that there is nothing that I will face that can't be used to develop perseverance in me so I can be complete and holy in His sight.

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