My Jonah Heart

In this time of our country, especially during election season, there are many mixed feelings that start to develop in our hearts and minds. Anger and worry set in at the state of our country and we wonder what our future may be, we get frustrated at the candidates that we have to choose from, we post every feeling and disagreement we have on social media and we voice our opinion on how we think our country should change. I’ve seen and heard how some are so overwhelmed by the thought of our country never getting back up from the pit we are in. Many have even said that they would rather just leave America and never come back. And I’ve heard Christians say, “Why can’t the Lord just return and take us home.” This is not only what I’ve heard from others, but what I’ve said, what I’ve thought, and what I have prayed. I have felt these feelings were good desires, even righteous! Until recently. God showed me my own ugly heart. First, it started with a quote from C.S. Lewis’ book, The Screwtape Letters which reads:

My Dear Wormwood,

Be sure that the patient remains completely fixated on politics. Arguments, political gossip, and obsessing on the faults of people they have never met serves as an excellent distraction from advancing in personal virtue, character, and the things the patient can control. Make sure to keep the patient in constant state of angst, frustration, and general disdain towards the rest of the human race in order to avoid any kind of charity or inner peace from further developing. Ensure that the patient continues to believe that the problem is “out there” in the “broken system” rather than recognising there is a problem with himself.

Keep up the good work,                                                                                                                                                  Uncle Screwtape

This quote hit me like a ton of bricks. God was showing me something I’ve never been convicted over before. Then, as I was listening to a recent presidential debate and remembering all the posts and articles I’ve read in the past few months, I became so burdened for my country and longed for what it used to be. “One nation under God.” But my sinful self played off the burden God had given me and started to point the focus inward. I started to think what I had thought numerous times before; the very thoughts I shared a moment ago, “Lord, how long will you wait before you return and take us home? I can’t take this anymore. I want out. Wouldn’t it be better to live in another country? My country is dying!” Then as the Holy Spirit does, it fought back my selfish thoughts with God’s Word. These words came with a special kindness and quietness. The words, “remember Jonah” flooded into my mind. As soon as these words came, I was confused but kept thinking through the events of the story. I thought through Jonah’s rejection of God’s command to go to Nineveh, his running away from God, his trial of being in the belly of a fish for 3 days, his repentance, his journey back to Nineveh to warn them that God would destroy them, Nineveh’s repentance, God’s mercy on Nineveh, and then, Jonah’s response to their repentance and God’s mercy:

“And he prayed to the LORD and said, “O LORD, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster. Therefore now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.”

Jonah 4:2-3, ESV

Nineveh was a wicked city full of people that had turned from God to their own ways. Yet, they repented when they heard God’s warning and God had given them mercy. Jonah was angry that God did not destroy Nineveh and asked God to take his life. Jonah could not bear to see the people of Nineveh be saved and thought he would be better off dead. That was it. I suddenly was so ashamed of my thoughts. I desired for the Lord to return soon, but never thought about how my want for His return was not about the glory of Christ, but on the relief of my own personal trials and circumstances. I was so convicted. I’ve always thought that when there were hard times in my life and I responded with, “Lord, I just want you to return,” that my thoughts were righteous and even good. But yet, the Lord convicted me and reminded me that any good thought or deed that I do is all because of Christ’s work alone and not of my own doing. My ways are tinged with sin because I am a sinner. I was amazed and thankful that God would be so kind and merciful to someone so focused on self. He lovingly showed me His mercy and long-suffering for America and for the world through the conviction of my “Jonah heart.” I am thankful God’s Word gives us examples of imperfect people, like Jonah, so we can identify with their mistakes and see the mercy God has given us.

Today is the day of salvation. God is warning us that our time is short, but that He is merciful. In the midst of all that is happening in our country and in our personal lives, we can share the Good News of Jesus Christ. God is loving and long-suffering. Our world needs to repent and turn to God.

“For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Romans 10:10-13, ESV

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Living Waters

It’s almost been 2 1/2 years since my last article on Beyond the Road Less Travelled and God has done a lot in my life since then. I hope to write more frequently and maybe put some posts with thoughts that have been “on the shelf.” Honestly, God’s been teaching me more of the same things that I’ve posted in the past, just in deeper and more humbling ways. The older I get, the more sin I see, the more love of God I see, the more of His sweet mercy I see. If we stay faithful, trials get harder and each wound cuts deeper, but not apart from being filled with the sweetness and fulfillment God provides through the pouring of His Spirit and healing springs of His Word.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my Word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”

Isaiah 55:8-11,  ESV

When we are filled with God’s Word, God reveals our putrid nature and we are shown how much grace He’s actually given us. And through every failed test, He lovingly and patiently proves it. The Christian life is not easy and as Christians, we need to humbly and constantly be submitting to God by being in His Word. I know I can fall into the thinking that I can graze by life without barely a scratch or losing a breath. Have you ever felt this way? I struggle every single day with it. We are called to be holy, we are called to be set apart, we are called to share in Christ’s sacrifices that He bore for us! He has already paid the price, yet we are called to die in order that we may also be glorified with Christ (Romans 8).

We were broken, but after Christ bought us back from what separated us from our Father, He has made whole again at the cross and when we reach heaven we will share in His glory. Our future is secure! We are being torn apart, broken more and more each day from our fleshly selves so that each time you look at us, Christ is shining more brightly. Did you realize that?

I’ve realized that over these 2 1/2 years of being in Guam, I am no more wise than I am humble or more humble than wise. I’m a true sinner with no goodness in me. However, I am a redeemed sinner. Any drop of any goodness, love, mercy, grace, humility or wisdom comes from the Holy Spirit who was given to me at Salvation. My salvation had a cost and that was paid by the very blood of my Savior, Jesus Christ who ransomed me. Because of what Christ did for me, I will imperfectly run and strive for the prize, which is Christ, Himself, though my soul is already forever promised to the Lord of Living Waters!

“Are you thirsty?
Are you empty?
Come and drink these living waters.
Tired and broken;
Peace unspoken.
Rest beside these living waters.”

Living Waters by Keith and Kristyn Getty

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Dear Family and Friends,

Lilly, AG and me

Since the fall of 2010, I have been traveling with the Galkin Evangelistic Team. After 4 years, this year is my last year. It is a bittersweet feeling. I will miss the team and the kids, but it has been such a sweet growing time in my relationship with God. I have seen God change me in so many ways, and I rejoice in His promise that He will continue to do a good work until the day of Jesus Christ (Phil. 1:6).

I have loved traveling, but have loved what God has taught me along the way even more. However, it hasn’t been easy. One of the passages God used was 1 John 4. God showed me that I am fearful of what people think about my spiritual state, my past circumstances and my future. I didn’t love God or others, I loved myself. I was insecure in God’s love for me, so couldn’t possibly love God or anyone besides myself.

Throughout the years of working at Northland Camp and traveling, God continued to use His Word to change me and to grow closer to Him. He used James 4 to show me that God pursues my heart; that He is jealous for my affections. When I start turning towards God He runs to me like the father ran to the prodigal son. He then used Hebrews 12 to encourage me to keep running the race by looking at the finished work of Christ. Colossians 3 summed it all up by telling those that are in Christ to seek those things which are above and to not set your affections on things on the earth. Praise the Lord that He has used His Word to bring me to Him. My God has been so kind as to make the Gospel clearer than it has ever been before. Obviously, this is not of anything I can do or any other person, but through what God has done alone. I need to live a grace-dependent life, not a self-dependent one.

Our team has served different churches around the United States, and I have asked myself what am I living for? Have I been living for myself, because I want to look spiritual or do I really want to serve God? As I grew, I realized that yes I do live for self because I have a flesh, but I also have the Spirit fighting my flesh as well that wants to live for God fully! I have always been burdened to work in a church somewhere, wherever God may lead, but I didn’t know where to go after traveling.

I have prayed about the possibility of being apart of Gospel Grace Church in Salt Lake City. I would hopefully get a normal job and pray that God would provide ways to share the Gospel. However, after praying about it for a long time, I realized that although this burden is still on my heart, that it wasn’t time to move to Salt Lake City yet. So, I prayed that God would open doors.

Last fall, God amazingly provided an open door to move to Guam and be a part of Harvest Baptist Church! As I prayed about it more, I filled out the application and waited. I wasn’t sure that I would be given a job, but I had been praying that God would shut the door if this was not His will for me. Then in January, someone from the church called and asked for an interview. I was so excited that God was showing me what I was to do after traveling and to keep pursuing it! After talking with the music pastor, they offered me a job!!

God provides in such miraculous ways! So, I will be moving to Guam in August and be working there at the church. There are so many opportunities there and I have personally been burdened for girls my age and look forward to fellowshipping with them and being involved in music as well.

It won’t be easy being away from family and friends, but I pray that God will use this season in Guam to bring us all closer to Him and more dependent on Him. I love my family and will miss them greatly. Praise the Lord for His guided hand!

What Defines You?

lightstock_99121_medium_sarah_roeSince traveling, God has been kind to show me the sins and faults that I have never seen before. But, for the past two weeks, God has been peeling back some undesirable sins in my life.  There is a difference, you know, in sins that are tolerable and sins that are undesirable. Maybe even describing them as the sins that you are okay with having or sins that you have grown comfortable as claimed, but then, there are sins that you would rather not have anyone see, not even yourself.

God is kind to expose those kinds of sin. If I just kept living in my tolerable sin, I wouldn’t see the wickedness of my heart. Ironically though, the sin that God has been exposing in me happens to be, in my mind tolerable and undesirable. It just got exposed at different times and in deeper ways. Mine is FEAR.

This sin, for many years, has been the sin that keeps me “looking” spiritual. For example, I fear what others think, so I serve and try to live righteously in my own efforts. It has also been a sin that I have claimed as an excuse or label. This is where God wanted me. How does this happen? Well, once exposed to my fear of man, I broke. God started putting in me a desire for Him and a realness of my sin. I had a hunger for God. God used this raw form to make me see what my sin was; wicked. I actually experienced freedom in claiming I was a sinner! Through months of this stripping of my rotten self-righteousness, God used His Word and His people to show me that I was okay being a sinner. Christ died for sinners, not for perfect people. However, I got comfortable and let the sin become a weight in my spiritual race. I allowed fear to define me. Sarah is a fearful person. I was okay with that.

Should that be the end? Should I let sin define who I am?

Colossians 3:3 states, “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” This verse tells me that if I am saved, I have died. My sin has died with Christ. And I am now hidden in Christ. Romans 7:4a states, “Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ.” So, I should not claim only my sin, because I am to know that I am a sinner. But, if I claim only that I am a sinner then I am the publican, who couldn’t see that he was hidden in Christ. Neither can I claim that I am self-righteous, or I am the Pharisee, who could only see what he had done for God in His own strength. He couldn’t see that it is Christ who has done the work.

“Looking unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God”

Hebrews 12:2

Jesus completed a perfect race. Why should I claim anything but Christ? Because of Christ, He defines who I am: a child of God, hidden in Christ. May my life dwindle in the light of Him

The Power I Steal from God

 

 

 

 

Have you ever lost sleep thinking about what God was teaching you? When you’re so full of conviction over a sin or situation that you literally cannot sleep. That happened to me this very week. As we traveled into Salt Lake City and the team starting settling in, I was face to face with an ugly truth. I wanted to be in control of what happened in my life and not God. When this truth and wrong belief was revealed, it hit me like a ton of bricks. Not just because of the one situation, but because I realized that throughout this past summer I was struggling with the same thing, but I was blinded. I realized the pain I had caused and the power that I was trying to steal from my God. I was literally wrestling with the Lord.

That night, as I was going to bed, I was full of such sorrow and tears that I could not sleep. I was struggling with choosing to focus on things that I couldn’t change and actually be grateful and joyful that God was kind enough to show me my sin. By God’s grace, the gratefulness and joy in the Lord won. I was in awe that God loved me enough to let me fail so that I could see that I was never in control; that I could never actually steal power from God. He held on to my heart as I pulled and acted as a fool. In 1 Corinthians 1:15 it says, “Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” I’m a fool to think that I can manipulate such an awesome God! And even more amazingly, He even uses the fool to do His work.

Philippians 1:6 it says, “Being confident of the very thing, that he that hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” What a precious promise! God is still working on this unfinished product. We are broken vessels used to glorify His name. I often give the illustration that when you put a candle into a vase that is glued together with broken pieces, it is much more beautiful than the one that has no broken parts. The light is all you see through the broken vase.

When I think of broken vessels used for God’s glory, I think of Paul. He was greatly used of God but was a sinner just like you and me. He struggled with God but obeyed. He let God use him and have power over his life. I think of the Church at Colossae that he was burdened with. He was currently in jail when he wrote to them. He had no power or control over the people or God. He was forced to be in a place where all he could do was trust that the Lord was working. The last verse of Colossians 1 says this, “Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.” As he toiled over the burden that he had for the people of Colossae, he claimed God’s promise of completing His work. God is powerfully in control!

Bearing a Fruitless Work in Self, Bearing All in the Vine

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Are there things in your life you feel are out of control? Do these questions come to mind: Does God really care? Does God love me? Does God understand me? Does God have my best in mind? Because of my naturally fearful flesh, these are questions I am tempted to answer “no” to every day. I often think that I am the best one to understand me, that I have my best in mind, and that I am the only one who knows how to love me better than anyone else. So, when I have finished doing all of my Christian responsibilities I feel more in control and secure. However, when responsibilities or situations get too difficult, then its time to go to God.
“Lord, I pray that You would help me to do___.” Many times I find myself praying this prayer. A cry of despair and a real need for help from God. But, most of those times, I regret to say that those prayers were prayed after a long period of self-effort attempts to live the Christian life. A Christ-less mindset bearing a fruitless work. Reading the first few chapters of Jerry Bridges’, “True Community,” my eyes have been exposed to this lifestyle open in its raw form. My countless efforts to be God in my life are worth nothing.

Are there times when I do live righteously and honestly desire God, even in my self-effort? No, because without God’s enablement, I can do nothing. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace are you saved by faith; and that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” This means that my salvation and any good or righteous thing I do is from God. I am His child. What an awesome thought, that I can rest in the fact that I am a sinner and can do no good, so I need Christ. Therefore any good that comes from me is because I am in Christ. I am ever fixed in the Vine, who is Christ. Christ, who bears all fruit of righteousness, flows through me. I can, in fact, do this life, not because of anything I do, but because He lives in me. So, “Lord, I pray You will enable me to do ___ because Christ lives in me.”

What Has Your Heart?

I’m sure many of us, if not all of us have thought back to when you were a child. What mattered most to you? Even if you don’t remember when you were a child you can certainly look at a child and see what matters most to them is what they want; their desires. Whether it is a toy, sleep, food, or comfort, it is all a child thinks about. In fact, you could call it idolatry.

Idolatry is extreme admiration, love or reverence for something or someone. Of course, a child may not realize that they are idolizing a person or something like a toy, but we as Christians know the desires holding our hearts. I make this comparison because of the many hours I have spent with children, but mostly for the extreme conviction that I have in my heart over my idols. I am like a child holding on to what I think most dear in the world and I will not let go. Whether it is friendships, relationships (my singleness and family), financial stability, future plans, physical state, spiritual state (in the eyes of others as well as my own) or my own comfort, it has my focus, my heart. Are all desires sinful? No, but when it becomes the ruling thing in our hearts, it becomes an idol. What does God think about these idols?

First, God commands us to have no other gods before Him in the first commandment. So, obviously, these are sinful, because the only person who should have my worship, praise, life, and heart is God. Secondly, not only does God command it, He reveals to us how serious idols are throughout the scriptures. I have been reading through Isaiah and specifically, in chapters 14-19, he describes how God was pouring His wrath on many different cities for their idolatry. God destroyed cities for this! Thirdly, He allows us to see His love for our hearts. James 4 asks us pointing questions about our desires/idols. “From whence come wars and fightings among you? Come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God?” (James 4:1-4a) Then, it describes God’s heart in verse 5, which says, “Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The Spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?” God is not sinful, so ultimately He is a holy jealous God who desires our whole hearts. He is not partial; He wants to claim us as a whole.  A righteous, beautiful God, who loves you, desires to fellowship with you and with me!

            I have found in the past few months that God takes away idols. Sometimes it hurts. I do not enjoy it, but it is for my ultimate good. In fact, God has my best in mind. He loves me and wants to give me the best. I think of the Prodigal Son, but the child illustration has been on my mind. I am like a child, carrying an old dirty rag for a toy, who is offered a priceless jewel from my loving Father, and I do not want it. Eventually, God in His kindness pulls on the rag. I scream and throw a tantrum to get back what I want, but then God puts the jewel in my hand. I sometimes may toss it aside, mad, but He picks it up and hands it to me again. Graciously He changes my heart and I realize what precious object He has given me; Himself. What has your heart?

Stepping Up

What is God asking you to do? Do you trust Him fully in the situation you are in? Is there something in your life that God is asking you to give up and to step up to become more like Him? These questions and many others have been swimming in my head lately. Why? Because I do have situations in my life where God is testing me. God has been gently peeling away securities so that He can expose me for who I really am and humble me.

When God takes things away that I cling to, is that because He doesn’t love me? No, in fact, He takes those things because He loves me and is making me more like His Son.  He is perfecting! God promises in Philippians 1:6Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” What a wonderful promise! However, I, in my sinful and wicked state, am not satisfied. I want what 1 Peter calls as corruptible things. I want things that are perishable. I do not want God and His precious Word. In Proverbs God calls those who do not want understanding or wisdom (His Word), fools.

Thankfully, God has been working in my heart and using His Word to show me that I need Him and that those corruptible things that I love actually do not satisfy as much as a relationship with Him. I can so easily be satisfied with material things, with comfort, with relationships that seem okay, even my devotions, but yet God is calling me to a higher calling. He wants to give more than I am settling for. He loves His children and has given us a perfect and loving gift. This gift is Christ. This gift is becoming more like His Son who is perfect and has taken our sin away and replaced it with His own righteousness. I need to step up and live a life “sold out” for Christ! That is what Christ’s disciples had to do. They had to take up their cross, die to themselves and follow Christ. The awesome part of that is that Christ already died for them, for me, for the world. What God is telling and compelling us to do as Christians is to live worthy, holy, set apart. It may be a hard road to travel, but God never promised ease. He promises grace. Paul describes this perfectly in II Corinthians 12:9 which says, “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

So, daily I have to ask myself, am I satisfied in becoming like Christ? Is His grace enough? And the answer is yes! No matter my failures, my untruthful thoughts, my sinful and wicked heart, deep down I am a child of God and I want to become more like Christ! I may have to step it up, I may have to die to myself, but my result is heavenly. In conclusion, the verse that actually showed me my true heart was in Psalms when David is running from Saul and pleading to God for his safety. At the end of the passage, his prayer actually brought me to tears. Psalm 17:13-15 states “Arise, O Lord, disappoint him, cast him down: deliver my soul from the wicked, which is thy sword: from men which are thy hand, O Lord, from men of the world, which have their portion in this life, and whose belly thou fillest with they hid treasure: they are full of children, and leave the rest of their substance to their babes. As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness.” David, a man of God! An imperfect man, but yet loved the Lord and was a man after God’s own heart! The step may be steep, but I want to be satisfied with the likeness of Christ!

A New Year’s Resolution To Keep

Every year it seems we make New Year’s resolutions to better our lives. Or maybe you are one of those who thinks resolutions are useless and decide that “if you don’t make them you don’t have to keep them.” However, making resolutions is a good thing and I have learned that I need to have some discipline in my life. For instance, a goal you may have is to not drink soda, exercise more, eat more healthfully, read more books or have a deeper relationship with God. Even though each goal might seem impossible and maybe insurmountable, in fact, you may fail trying to achieve them, but the fact is that God loves you no matter how you are and He will help you to become more like His Son through your accomplishments and failures. My goal here is to share with you a goal of mine that I pray will be a challenge to you and also to be a use of accountability.

One of my goals this year is to not skip a day of devotions. This goal has been hard to keep in the past. Of course, life gets busy and things you never planned seem to come up, but a lot of the time, and I know this because I am guilty of it, we seem to get lazy. That’s when we start getting off the path that God wants us to be on. We start going down our own path thinking that we can live off of the small amounts of God’s Word that we have picked up in church services or just the passing verse. Truthfully, God’s Word does not return void and He will use everything for His glory. What men mean for evil God means for good. However, think about this: what are we on this earth for? If you go back to the beginning you will see that God made us for His glory and for a perfect relationship with Him. Our sin has made us the enemy of God (Romans 3:23) and has sentenced us to death (Romans 6:23) , but to the praise of His Son, Jesus who was sent to die in our stead, conquered death and hell for us so that we might dwell with Him someday for eternity. And by faith, if we ask Him to forgive us of our sin, He will forgive us (1 John 1:9). Saved by grace, but still sinners, and until we die or until Jesus’ return we are here on this earth. So, while we are here on earth God has given us a special gift; His precious Word. First of all, God’s Word is the gospel of Jesus Christ. Secondly, it is our weapon against the devil and our own flesh. Thirdly, it is our comfort, our light, and our lifeline to our relationship with God.

For a while now I’ve been studying out 1 Peter and I’ve been using Elizabeth George’s study Putting on a Gentle and Quiet Spirit: 1 Peter which has been a great tool. In the beginning of the 7th lesson I have now come to chapter 2:1-3 where it states, ” Therefore, laying aside all malice, all guile, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.” She goes on by asking what we must lay aside; which when we look at the beginning of verse 1, it tells us clearly. These are behaviors and attitudes, as Peter says, that we must discard. Next, Peter tells us what we are to desire; which is God’s word. I can tell you that I am convicted of my lack of desire for God’s Word. I have gotten so tangled up in my own world that I have become blind to the fact that I even missed reading God’s Word or even taken God’s Word lightly. I am lazy and weak! God is showing me, that I am starving for His Word. There are many mistakes and sins I have committed because I have not sought it out through Him. I need to desire His Word as a baby desires for milk. No matter how dry my spiritual life may seem, I still need God’s word. I want to long for God like the deer pants for the water (Psalm 42:1 As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God”). And as Elizabeth George said, “To study God’s Word should never be a labor, but a delight instead.” In closing let me challenge you to dive into God’s Word and grow closer to Him. That is why He created you in the first place! In James, it says that if you draw nigh to God, He will draw nigh to you. Of course, you and I will not be able to do it on our own, but with God all things are possible!

It is Truth sent down from heaven;

It is much to be desired;

It is perfect, pure and cleansing;

It is every whit inspired.

It is manna for the hungry;

It is milk to make us grow;

It is light for every traveler;

It is Truth that all should know.

-Anonymous

Joyous Trials

 

This past summer, while studying James at Northland Camp, the Lord starting working in my heart about what trials are used for in our lives. It starts in James 1:2-4 “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations: Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”
God has been teaching me about how He uses trials to change me, but recently He has been showing me even more of how the trials He sends my way are really for my good and His glory.

As we studied James, I was also going through the New Testament in my devotions. When I came to I Peter, that’s when my view of trials began to change. It was amazing to see the parallels between James and 1 Peter. The verse that really caught my attention was I Peter 1:7 which says, “That the trial of your faith being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus.” So God was showing me through James and Peter that my trials are not just times where I get joy from coming out of a situation, but that the trial itself is actually for my good. I need to treasure those times because of the end goal: the glory of Christ in me. For example, I hate running, and when I run it’s not just to get it over with, it’s to see the end result. God is still working in my heart to teach me this.

I began to understand the fact that my trials are joyous and that they work patience in me, but also, that they are for the praise, honor, and glory of Christ in me. That is not the end though. With excitement, I went on in I Peter only to be stopped in my tracks again. I Peter 1:15-16 “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, ‘Be ye holy: for I am holy.’” Automatic shut down–I was convicted. I started thinking about all the times I have responded in my trials with an unholy view. I started thinking about my sins: my selfishness, pride, and many others. I was starting to get discouraged, but God was using this in my life to point me to Christ, who is holy, and who lives in me. Christ suffered just like us and went through trials, yet He was holy. “So,” I thought, “how can I be holy?” God immediately brought to mind that I can be holy because Christ is in me. I can trust that He will do whatever it takes to make me more like His Son, Jesus Christ who is holy.

The last few verses of I Peter 1 have been constantly on my mind. I Peter 1:23-25 says “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever. For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.” My inheritance is imperishable because of a holy God. It is well worth the run.