You enjoy growth and you want to mature in your faith. You constantly ask the Lord to refine you and shape you into the person He desires you to be. You desire to surrender, even when you do not fully comprehend what that means, or what it might cost. You sing praise songs with full conviction. You are awed by the pillars of the faith who sacrificed everything to follow Christ. You wonder if you could do the same and pray the Lord would give you the courage and strength to do so if He called you to that place. You desire wisdom and discretion so you may be above reproach in all that you say and do.
But then, when He puts you on the potter's wheel and begins to bend you to His will it gets a little uncomfortable. A little warm. You are not so sure you want to be there.
So, you cry "Uncle!"
"Lord, when I asked for all of those things, I was hoping it would be easy. I thought I could pray, read my Bible, go to church, give money to some missionaries and call it a day. I did not really understand the cost and the pain of being a true disciple of you. Is there any way you could back off a little? I feel like every time I turn around You reveal more of my ugliness and sin and it is becoming a bit burdensome. I have a lot of things I need to change. I have many many weaknesses. People irritate me. I guess what I am trying to say is, I need You to give me all of the things I ask for but not require so much from me. I am too tired and it is so hard!!!"
Doesn't this sound ridiculous?
And yet, how many times do we feel this? How often do we think these thoughts? How often do we LIVE this?
I think the Lord just smiles and says, "My grace is sufficient for you. For My power is made PERFECT in weakness". II Corinthians 12
The Lord does not need us in order to accomplish His will. He CHOOSES to use us - imperfect people who serve a perfect God.
"Come to me all you who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest". Matthew 11No matter how difficult life becomes, He always provides a place of solace, refreshment and rest. He does not leave us in the wilderness forever. Nor does He ask us to find our own oasis. He takes our hand and gently leads us to the cool refreshing water of life ... His Son, Jesus Christ.
"If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me and for the gospel will save it." Mark 8
Have you ever tried to lift a tree trunk with your bare hands? It is not a simple nor a pleasant task. It takes effort and strength and a desire to do it. You can put it down when you are weary but no one else is there to take it up again for you. You must endure. You must push through the pain and the exhaustion and keep your eye on the goal ... eternal life and the most coveted words in the world: "Well done, good and faithful servant".
"Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials for the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing." James 1
The beauty of this verse is the simple word "WHEN". It does not say to consider it all joy IF you encounter trials, but WHEN you encounter trials. Christ never promised an easy life for believers. When Adam and Eve chose to sin they destroyed the perfection of man and of earth and opened a door to selfishness, arrogance, vanity and countless other vices. Living the Christian life is difficult on a good day .... surrendering self is never an easy task. But living through trials with JOY? Who does that? Is it even possible?
But the verse does not end there - there is a PURPOSE. "The testing of our faith produces perseverance". How can we learn to persevere when we have never pushed through a difficult task? When we have never lost something precious to us? When we have never had to fight for something we so passionately believed in?
And the end result of enduring the dark moments of earthly life? A MATURE faith that lacks nothing. There are few things I have personally desired in my life but this has been one of them since my youth ... to become a woman of maturity, wisdom and strength. A woman who can look at her life and see the work of God's hand and willingly surrender to the Lord's purpose and plan for her life - even when there is no specific plan to follow. And yet, there are times I fear the "how". What will the Lord have to do through me, my husband, my children to be able to fully use me for His glory? And then I realize - he equips those He calls and He never ever leaves us alone. What have I to fear?
My true hearts prayer in times of trial and struggle and frustration when I want to scream out "Uncle!" is simply this:
"I have learned the secret of begin content in any and every situation ... I can do everything through Him who strengthens me." Philippians 4