Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Difficult Blessings

About two weeks ago, I was going through a difficult experience, as I detailed in my last post.  In that time, I was reminding myself of the cross, what Jesus had done for me, and my great need for God.  It was hard.  And although it was hard, I was thankful for the experience in that I was learning my need for God in that time.

Well, that difficult experience got better.  My problems that were causing me grief got worked out.  I was more than happy to thank God for His grace and move forward.  I had, however, not learned my great need for God in the way I thought I had.  While I had seen it in one area of my life, I had forgotten it in another.  In the following days, I found myself wandering in my mind and seeking my own amusement.  It was fun and I was happy.  I did notice though that I didn't feel the need to spend the time in prayer as I had in recent days.  I shrugged off the thoughts that I allowed to linger and became increasingly relaxed toward sin.  Pushed it aside, thinking it really wasn't a big deal.  Looking back, I was rather alarmed at what passed through me at that time.

Four days.  Four days was all it took for this to transpire.  Four days from knowing my need for God in one area and ignoring it another and wanting to go my own way.  Looking back though, I know it didn't in actuality happen in just four days.  Compromise and sin rarely happen overnight.  It starts with tiny seeds that go unchecked.  It starts with that thought I know I should shut out but allow to linger a little longer.  It's a slow, yet very quick process when I let my guard against sin down a little, just a little bit more each time. 

And then I'm left wondering what happened as I find yourself sitting in filth once again, the mess I thought was a part of the past.  I wonder why I feel distant from God when only a few days earlier I so keenly felt the nearness of His presence. 

But in the time I was going through this, I felt another strange feeling come over me.  I wanted to utter a strange prayer.  I wanted to welcome difficulty into my life, because I knew it was often what kept me close to God.  It was the exact opposite of how I used to respond, when I turned away from God in hard times.  I know now that when life is breezy and I can go about amusing myself, I wander from Him.  I wander from purity and holiness.  I wander from the principles I believe in and begin to wonder if I should cast them aside.  I wander to ugly places and begin to become comfortable there again.  I never thought I would wish for life to become harder.

I have to come to God in repentance again, seeking Christ's power over sin.  I have to ask Him again to instill within me His desire for holiness.  I have to keep my focus on Him that I may continue on the narrow way.  I have to let the hard times keep me close to Him and not forget that when circumstances gets easier.

The difficult times we often go through can actually be blessings.  They don't feel that way at the time, but they are.  It's then that we grow and experience the nearness of God, when we know we need His strength for every step.  We forget that otherwise.  So next time you're going through a difficult time where you have to fall before the throne of grace at least ten times a day, be thankful that it's keeping you close to Him.  And remember to stay close to Him when He lifts you up to higher ground.

(By the way, before this post was even published, I had a difficult day where three specific events caused me much frustration.  I was not thrilled and it was hard to be thankful.  But I had to remind myself that it was what I had wished for, bring my frustration before God, try to learn from my mistakes and move on.  Be careful what you pray for.)

Friday, 6 April 2012

Remembering Jesus

It's Good Friday and I had to make a real effort yesterday to prepare myself for today.  It was a hard week.  A week where I was again left wondering why I am where I am, why God has given me the work He has.  Why me, and not someone who is more qualified, someone who doesn't make all the mistakes I do.  Days when I wonder if I'm doing more harm than good.  Mornings I wish I could crawl back into bed and hide from the world instead of face a new set of problems.  When I turn to listening to a certain artist because it helps me deal with the frustration inside.

Yesterday my boss had to tell me to go home and think about what Jesus had done for us.  There's more important things than the problems we face.  Jesus died and rose again for us!  Stop worrying and go think about that.  I needed that.  I went home, trying to comfort myself with that.  Thanking God that one day in heaven, we won't face the problems and stresses we do today.  Thanking God for the friends who love me and stand with me.  For the friends who show me another reason for me being where I am.  Spending time with God in prayer, resting in Him, knowing that He is in control.  Letting Him give peace in the midst of the storm and ache.  No, my problems aren't fixed, but I know I can't do it without Him.  I know He cares.  I know I need to stand strong for the other people around me.

About two years ago, I wrote a post called Clinging to Christ.  According to my Blogger stats, this has been the second most viewed post I have ever written, with 300 views.  This post was also a talk I gave around the same time to a youth gathering a friend hosted and asked me to speak at.  I had just been given the topic "Remembering Jesus."  At the time, I had come out of an extremely difficult time in my life. Actually, all of 2010 was very hard.  But I stood up in front of about 100 young people, many of whom I had never met, and shared that truths that had carried me through my pain.  In my talk, I also shared God's promises in Revelation, that one day He will wipe away all our tears, and there will be no more sorrow and pain.  Although what I'm experiencing now is very different from what I did two years ago, I can still hold onto this.

Right now, I have four days where I don't have to worry, where I can leave the stress behind for a bit.  Today I remember that there are more important things.  Jesus died and took my sin upon Himself so that I could be free. He cares and I can rest in Him.  He will give me the strength for each new day.  I can cling to that.  So can you.  Maybe like me, things are getting harder for you when you thought they would be getting easier.  Whatever you're facing, He can carry you through.  Look to the cross.  Stop and celebrate the Son of God, His death that covered your sin, and His resurrection that defeated death.  Find your rest in Him.