Thursday, January 12, 2012

James One: The Results Are In: JOY!!!

  James 1:2-3  "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,  because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."

Happy Nu Jeerth!  We all love to embrace the new because it is so freeing to let go of the old!  For the past six months I have been in "learn to persevere" mode so I, for one, was super ready to cross over into 2012 in hopes this particular training period would cease.  God has been working on teaching me how to respond to a lot of different situations (trials of many kinds if you will)  through perseverance training.  It wasn't until October when I finally asked "what are we working on, LORD?", when He responded with this word in my heart:  "perseverance." Then it all made sense. Perseverance training is sort of like a boot camp.  It can be super intense for a season.  But God is relentless and insistent that we stick with Him through it.  Remaining under (Greek word-hupomene) His authority and cooperating with ample grace is our part.  Actually, it's quite simple if you really consider what He is after.  He is after our submission!!!  And He sets us up to succeed. But we must choose to walk His way. Like a wild pony that needs to be broken, trials of many kinds are His way of "breaking" us while teaching us His way of holiness and making us strong in Christ along the way.  Learning to persevere is a big deal to Him as is learning to follow! Glory is at stake and our joy hangs in the balance.  

These are just a few of the trials He used on me. In June, right after we had just celebrated two college graduations within 20 hours of each other with one in Nashville and the other in Chicago....then throw in a canceled flight to Chicago due to weather and add an 8 hour drive instead to the second graduation, I was convinced that my summer would be calm and easy as I was completely ready to sip lemonade in a rocking chair on a porch.  Not. Two weeks later,  my 32 year old nephew who I love, moved in and the LORD allowed him to detox over an 8 day period of a hard core drug addiction in my very home. Honestly, I did not see that one coming!  Probably best!  We didn't know he had not already been delivered from his drug addiction when he moved in.  But the LORD was HUGE and we made Psalm 23 our deliverance verses.....He makes me lie down in green carpet (vs. pastures)...the carpet in the bedroom in which he "layed"  was hunter green so we just changed the wording up a bit to make it our own. God also lead him beside the "still waters" (it rained almost the entire week and his bed was right beside the window). We were making spiritual apps all over the place! God was leading him OUT of his past addiction even though he was flat on his back most of the time.  MAKE NO MISTAKE. Even though he was still, HE WAS BEING LED. This was by far one of the most God-glorifying times I have ever experienced.  I learned of a power of God through this that I had never known.  Boomer, his yellow lab/golden retriever had also moved in with us and several vicious dog fights broke out between him and and our boxer, Boaz.  This alone about drove me nuts! But God was enough for all of us and victory did come to all. PTL! 

Various smaller trials ensued as they tend to do on earth.  But then my dad experienced a sudden illness (sepsis, gallbladder pancreatitis) and nearly died. And after 7 days in the ICU plus 3 regular room days,  his long recovery began with a four week pit-stop in the nursing home.  The trial for me at this point was being "there" for my mom.  The week he got sick, I remember I had nothing written on my calendar. It didn't take long to figure out why God had cleared my schedule that entire week!  She needed support!  Mental, physical, emotional you name it.  But she was a trooper and prayed voraciously for dad.  She was not ready to let him go.  Her real trial began when he came home and she became the numero uno caregiver.  Talk about hard labor.   But she was willing and able although it took a huge toll on her and she was in the thick of her own "trials of many kinds."  But I learned that so much of how we "learn Christ" is also by being subjected to other people's trials.  How we respond to situations and family issues and whatnot is as much our training as our own personal trials.  Frustrated people frustrate people.  Of this we can be sure.  But God was teaching me how not to respond and it is most certainly by taking the "high road." 

Reason to Party!
 Long story, long, Christmas came and we celebrated Jesus' birthday with "His" cake and with way too many presents for ourselves.  Molly and Jason helped me "undeck the halls" the first week of the new year.  All the ornaments had been removed from the tree and I decided to view it one last time before I turned the Christmas lights out.  But, alas, I noticed one last ornament that hadn't been removed. I looked closer and there it was all spelled out in gold----JOY!  I couldn't believe it.  I knew God had made sure Molly left it there just for me.  I asked her if she knew she had left one last ornament on the tree.  She nonchalantly said she thought she had them all.  I said to her, "You won't believe what was left!  It was JOY!!!"  I was sooo excited because I knew God was giving me my end of semester grade.  It wasn't an A.  It was better.  I had gotten a "JOY." In school I was an average student and I didn't necessarily prioritize grades but this was a important to me. Joy does come when we stick it out with Christ.  That's why James tells us to consider "it" before hand.  It's because he knows it's coming!!   We might do well to remember that.  

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