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Friday, April 12, 2013

Off Track


I was derailed.

A little off, a little overwhelmed, a little bit more complain-y than usual.  This was a period where I was annoying myself.

The worst part was that nothing much was happening.  Life was chugging along as usual.  I just went off the grid a little.

Each day was like trudging through mud.  It would start off smoothly, my feet firmly on the path.  As the day wore on, my footsteps veered off – one in a ditch, one on the road.  Headway slowed.  The end of every day yielded weariness, the disheartening feeling that the day was no better than yesterday.  Troubles accompanied me despite any attempt to leave them behind.

Nothing alleviated the heaviness.  Prayer, quiet time, praise music, Bible study, church, accomplishing tasks, spending time with loved ones, helping others, writing, exercise.  These things would work for a time, but the unease always leaked back in.

I felt removed from God, without a net or a guide, lost in the wilderness.  God was listening to my prayers, but I heard this response: Mmmm hmmm.  I’ll get to you in a bit.  I’ve got something else going on right now.  You’ll be all right.  Try to figure it out yourself.

Which is silly.  God doesn’t have limited time or will to take care of any of our needs – he never leaves.  But I was bereft and confused.  Everything was going along wonderfully, and then something shifted.  Was this a test?  A learning opportunity?  I couldn’t figure out which one.  Time after time I gave my control to God, and prayed that my will would become his.  But it wasn’t happening.

One day while reading online articles and blog postings, the fever broke.   A stranger’s “What Would Jesus… Blog?”  A friend’s “Killing the Proverbs 31 Woman…And Other Impossible Standards.”  A favoriteblogger’s online memoir.  The next day at Bible study, women recited scripture they had memorized.  The realization that for months, the book of James was in my life through Bible study and sermons at church hit me like a brick and I read it again; God was telling me something.

Clearly God is not far from me.  I was blind, turned away from him.  I had let this world’s life take hold of my soul – I had not guarded God’s word in my heart.  The result was struggle, unease, heaviness, confusion.

It is amazing what God can do in our lives.  Perspective can change in an instant; words from the Bible can jump out and snap us out of our self-imposed prisons.  Time can heal the damage we have suffered.  Scars that remain from the injuries we endured remind us where we were, and we become stronger and wiser. We just have to be aware, listen, and tip our faces to God’s light.  Every day, again and again.  We can get back on the path.  It will take time and effort, but the path remains, and he is always waiting for us to find it.

*******

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.  For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.  So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.  But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind.  Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.  Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.

Believers who are poor have something to boast about, for God has honored them.  And those who are rich should boast that God has humbled them. They will fade away like a little flower in the field.  The hot sun rises and the grass withers; the little flower droops and falls, and its beauty fades away. In the same way, the rich will fade away with all of their achievements.

God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.  And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else.  Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away.  These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.

So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters.  Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens.  He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.  He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession. James 1 (NLT)

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