James 1:3-4 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
Last weekend I travelled to Wisconsin to say goodbye to my father. I made peace and did what God wanted me to.
It was uncomfortable. That’s an understatement.
During the trip, I stood by the shore of Lake Michigan looking out over the vast expanse of water. Feeling small. The last time I was here I was young. I’m not young anymore. Life has been challenging. I’ve experienced much loss. I am not the young, over-zealous, foolish teenager I used to be. In transparency, I felt uglier. Lesser. Somehow less than I was. Standing here produced different snapshots of my life flashing in my mind.
I started a prayer in my head that was full of raw questions.
“I know I hear from you. Why did this happen? Why isn’t my son healed? Why did our friends, who once pursued reconciliation, decide if they don’t want it we are worth nothing? Why are we undervalued? Why was so much taken away? Why aren’t you resurrecting and restoring in my life like I’ve seen you do for those around me? Why have I walked through so much?”
When will I learn to stop asking why to the Creator who doesn’t have to tell me one iota of anything?! But, guess what? He did respond to me.
“I have given you strong faith. Steadfastness has been produced in your life. You don’t see it, but you are mature.”
Hmm. I thought about it. God showed me something I say with humility. Even the blogs I wrote a few years ago often don’t represent how I see things now. I’ve grown rapidly. God took every painful trial to shape me and develop His character. I used to be petty, judgmental, critical, hypocritical, cold, bitter, and passive. Only now are small glimpses of that seen.
Praise God, though it’s been painful, I’ve learned much. I’ve learned hard lessons on wasting precious thoughts on nonsense. I’ve criticized what I discovered I didn’t understand. I’ve misjudged others and my pride was totally decimated. God has poured so much love in me that I am gentler. Softer. More loving. But I’m still human. I get it wrong. I’ve realized God calls us to be fruitful, not busy. We need to make time to do what’s right. If we’re too busy, then we’re too busy. I have made time through God’s impossible math in my own life.
I walked away from the shore with a knowledge that God sees. He’s working. He isn’t done writing the story. And He is faithful to prune us and mature us. It hurts, but it is so very good.
My family is being built up. We won’t always be in a humble position. God is telling me not to put stock in a title, bank balance, or social status. That can be taken in an instant. True riches are what is stored up in heaven. When blessings come, I need to stay humble.
I am not perfect and complete. But I’m nowhere near where I used to be. For that I’m so thankful. I am not who I was even a year ago. My growth has been swift, mostly because of the trials. This new season is more still and peaceful. I’m standing at the shore, still not understanding much of God, but resting in Him anyway.
I am insignificant in light of eternity and the universe. Just a speck in the face of a vast expanse of water. And yet, I am made in the image of God. I have purpose. The details matter. I matter. That thought is so comforting to me.
Friend, you matter. You have a purpose. God wants us trusting in Him, His Word, and His nudges in our lives. God always wants to bless us, but sometimes, we have to get out of the way to allow it.
I pray steadfastness has its full effect. May you hear the voice of God with greater clarity and be given wisdom and tools needed to spend time soaking in His presence. May you with gratitude humbly offer up what’s in your hand and watch God multiply it. May the 5,000 be fed when needed and may 5,000 meals be fed to the one person when God leads it. I pray against perfectionism. It’s not about you. You be obedient and God will do the rest. May God restore every area of your life. May you receive a greater revelation of the love of the Savior.