Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. JAMES 1:2-4 (NIV)
During one of his Sunday messages a couple of months ago, Church of The Highlands Pastor Chris Hodges shared with the congregation that each morning he asks God to give him whatever He has for him that day.
His message stuck with me, and I made a decision to do the same each day. At some point during my morning, in the midst of all my other “rituals” (prayer, meditation, thanking God for another day, etc.), I would ask God to give me whatever He had planned for me on that day. And for the next several weeks I did exactly that!
A couple of weeks in I realized that I had only been asking God for the “good stuff”, which I guess is human nature for the majority of us. I mean, who wants to ask for “bad stuff”? But then I started thinking about it…
In the past few weeks I’ve reflected on and shared some of the more questionable times in my life…situations that I’ve been in…things that I’ve done…crap that I’ve been through. While I’m not proud of many of these things because they weren’t in keeping with being a good Christian, I’m grateful for the fact that I survived them. And while I’m no saint, I’m proud of the man that God has allowed me to become.
A work in progress…
I’m of the belief that God is constantly molding and shaping us into what He wants us to be, and pointing us in the direction of what He wants us to do. I’m talking about finding our purpose and fulfilling our destiny. It is said that we’re products of our environment; that is to say that who and what we are as adults is a result of what we were exposed to as children. It makes perfectly good sense to follow this line of reasoning, but I’d like to take it one step farther.
I believe that we are products of every day that we’ve lived before this one. You see, what I am right now is the product of all that I’ve been through in life up to and including this very moment! And while I may not have enjoyed the entire journey, the life that I am living today and the relationship that I have with God has made it all worthwhile.
One morning I posed the question, “What if I asked God to give me everything, good and bad, that He has planned for me today?”
And that’s exactly what I did…
Dear God, I want You to give me everything that you have for me today. Everything. The good and the bad. Please, please, spare nothing that You have for me, and I thank You, Father, for whatever it is.”
Perhaps you’re sitting there thinking, “Only a fool would ask for the bad stuff. Are you nuts?”
But here’s the way I see it. With every obstacle that I overcome…with every challenge that I face…with every lesson that I learn…I become a better Christian. And I draw ever closer to a full relationship with Christ.
What is a full relationship with Christ?
I don’t know, but that’s what I’m seeking. I do know that the more I walk with Christ, the more that I want to walk with Him. The more I know about Him, the more that I want to know about Him. The more I feel His presence in me, the more that I want to feel Him. Do you get what I’m trying to say here? My appetite for Christ…for God…for the Holy Spirit, is insatiable.
You see, my life has never been more complete. I’ve never been happier…never enjoyed the gift of life…never lived for this moment, this day, this life, my life…until I found the unparalleled joy that I found in Jesus! And I know that it’s only the beginning! It’s only been three years since I was born again, six months since I was Baptized in the Holy Spirit, and six weeks since I was Baptized a second time! (You’ll read about that one soon.)
This post wasn’t gonna be about runnin’ after Jesus, but at this very moment I’m lead to urge you to do exactly that. Run after Jesus, with all that is in you! Go after Him as if your life depended on it…in many ways, your life does depend on it. This is the way I see it: having Christ in your life every day will make your life on earth more full, more rich, more complete, than you can imagine…once you experience what I’m talking about, and you will experience it, nothing, and I mean nothing will stand in your way.
That’s where I am right now…
Nothing is going to stand between me and God. Nothing.
Some tests come from God. Some tests come from the devil. Some of them are easily overcome, while others bring us to our knees in despair. Some of them just flat-out knock us on our rear ends! It’s not how many times we get knocked down that matter, but how many times we get back up. (And I’m gonna let you in on a little secret here…God will help you get back up every time…just take His hand and ask Him for help.)
I’ve told you this before, and I’ll tell you once more…The Seed of Hope is not a platform for me to stand on and tell you how peachy my life is. I get knocked down a lot. In fact, I spent most of this past week on my knees, trying to get back up again. I finally made it, but it wasn’t because of my intestinal fortitude, or anything that I can lay claim to. You see, God has seen fit to put some amazing people in my life! Their words snatched me up off of the carpet and put my focus right where it should have been all along: off of myself and directly on God. It’s like I was saying…God always provides me with what I need to get through whatever it is. And with the passing of each test, the overcoming of each obstacle, I get closer and closer to Him.
Dear God, I want You to give me everything that you have for me today. Everything. The good and the bad. Please, please, spare nothing that You have for me, and I thank You, Father, for whatever it is. I will praise You and glorify Your Name before all men for the good You have blessed me with, and I will tell the world of the Your wisdom and grace that I have drawn from the bad.
Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him. JAMES 1:12 (NIV)
See you next week!