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.
I am sitting here in our little home, Doug playing the piano, kids running around...home, beautiful home. I don't think that I can come up with words deep enough to describe the peace swelling in my heart for time to just be together.
I have been thinking over the last few days about the gifts that God gives amidst the storms that we encounter. He tells us that we should consider trials as pure joy...that seems so strange, trials as pure joy? I do not totally understand that but what I know from walking through all of the things we have lately (2 surgeries for me, Georgia's heart journey and 'episodes', Parker in the ER, 2 kids diagnosed with asthma, our rental houses completely underwater fiancially and facing the possibilities that brings, Doug having to work out town for the last 8 weeks....and more that I cannot remember right now)....what is so glaringly clear now is how very blessed I am. Because...God is shifting my eyes from big old me to Him. Because I have learned that His strength never fails. Never.
It is like my eyes are open more than ever before. And what matters most is not the things that my heart can tend to strive after. They just become blinders to what is true and right and beautiful. How is it that it is so easy to be so cosumed by myself, what others think, what I eat, what I wear, how I look....man, those seem so petty in comparsion with the things God has for me...for all of us.
At Georgia's preschool we have been reading a story. I think it is an old Jewish folktale. I cannot remember the name of it but I know that there are lots of versions of it out there. The basic story goe slike this:
A man lived in his tiny house with his wife a 6 children. He grew tired of the noise, the clutter and the chaos so he went to his Rabbi. His Rabbi asked him if he had a goat. He said, "Yes" and the Rabbi said, "Welcome it into the house with you." So the man went home to live with his wife, 6 kids and his goat in the tiny house...which made it even louder, messier and more crowded.
The next week the Rabbi asked, "Do you have a cow?" The man replied, "Yes" and went home to welcome the cow into his home...which became louder, messier and more crowded.
Over the next few weeks he invited in the chickens, a dog and any other animals around....and his house became louder, messier and even more crowded.
Then, the Rabbi told him to put the animals back outside....and the man came back a week later, and the man came back and said, "Rabbi my house is so beautiful and so clean and so quiet!"
You see, this man learned a few things. He learned the joy of what he already had, how to tolerate life not being perfect and I would venture to guess that he learned that he could do and tolerate far more mess, chaos and noise in his life than he had ever dreamed possible.
I think that is where the "pure joy" comes in. We have learned that with God we are far stronger than we ever dreamed. Not because we are superheros (at all...) but because God has showed HIS strength. In seeing, leaning, trusting in His strength (because quite honestly there was no other way to make it) I learned a little bit more just how deeply He loves me and just how much He will never fail. He took my eyes off of the mess, the chaos and the noise and helped me to fix them a little bit more on Him. He took my eyes off of my fears and taught me where to truly place my trust....
...and you know what? When that happens, so very many things pale in comparison. What matter most is being in His loving, compassionate, unbelievably capable hands and following where they lead.
If life is stormy....lean hard into God
If you feel broken....sink back into His care
If life feels too noisy, chaotic and messy...stop, do whatever it takes to find that stillness so you can hear His voice.
And when you hear that whisper...because He promises to be found by those who seek Him....
Drop those things you are clinging to....
Run, jump, risk into His plans for you....
Because that is where life in it's fullest is found.