Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange was happening to you. ~ I Peter 4:12
OK, confession number one...I have an attitude of thinking things in my life - especially because I'm a christian - should be good, happy and blessed!! And when things DON'T go that way, I tend to get cranky. Oh, sure, I can usually put on a good face for a while, and talk about 'enduring', but COME ON! What am I really 'enduring'? What God's been revealing to me is that much of what I feel I'm 'enduring' is really little more than annoying and frustrating matters that really are of zero eternal value. This is actually a hard thing for me to acknowledge, accept and admit. There are certain things (like our own church building to be able to start walking out our unique vision for Koinonia House, as well as an office for my dear husband where he can pray/study/work in quiet) that I have prayed and prayed for. (Well, to be completely honest, I've prayed, then slacked off, because it feels like God's just not answering.) And not that I'm saying the vision of Koinonia doesn't have eternal value...I know it does, but I need to stop putting so much stock in the methods and allow God the freedom to do it however he wants...my ideas MIGHT actually not be his!! Imagine that!!
However, I'm beginning to step back and look at the big picture on a lot of things. First of all, maybe we haven't been faithful enough with the small stuff we've been given, so God is actually saying, "no, not yet" to the bigger things. Maybe I've been so consumed with 'vision' that I've owned it, taken it right out of God's hands and tried to run with it myself. Haven't really checked back in with him - in the getting quiet for an extended period of time and LISTENING kind of way - to see what HE says the next step should be, instead of trying to figure things out myself. And I'm actually feeling good about these revelations...I'm not beating myself up or anything...I think God is taking me to a place of re-examining his promises and realizing they are usually an "if, then" kind of deal, and I've wanted to skip over the "if" and expect him to hand me the "then". He's teaching me things...I'm growing through the not getting my prayers answered immediately. Oh, I'm learning so much, I feel like it's hard to sort through it all and express it in words. I am, maybe for the first time, finding true JOY in looking at my frustrating, unchanged circumstances and being amazed at the wealth of things I have the opportunity to learn! (Kinda weird, I know. ) Oh, and in case this sounds 'high and lofty' I'll just add that there is most definitely a difference between joy and happiness. My JOY is rooted in seeing that God IS still at work and he hasn't abandoned me. I'm exploring things questions like "What if this is what God has called me to, and it NEVER changes? What will my response be? Is my RELATIONSHIP with him enough, that I can be satisfied if none of my other prayers are ever answered in the way I desire?" Those are some tough things. But I'm coming to the conclusion that if I cannot answer these with "Yes, Jesus - YOU are enough" - what value is my faith, really? Do I actually BELIEVE the things we say, teach and CLAIM to believe? There are many, many scriptures that I don't particularly want to be hanging on the fridge to claim for my life - but aren't those just as much a part of the Christian life as the 'good' ones?
Hmmmm...maybe in some future posts I'll share some of these verses that I am thinking of, and what God is saying to my heart about them.