Today I had a very brief conversation with my friend Bradley about God teaching us things; it doesn’t always come at once. We don’t always see the bigger picture or understand any part of it. Perhaps your realizing of this lesson is months down the road; maybe it’s at the end of the summer.
We frequently use language like “lesson” and “plan” and “test” when we referring to God’s teaching style. Today I was realizing that a lesson implies that a test will be had. Could be a pop quiz or it could be a pre-determined test, but either way it follows the period of learning and growing.
If I pray for patience, for joy, for faithfulness, for self-control, for gentleness (really, for all of the fruits of the Spirit) then shouldnt it be expected that my love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control will all, at some time or another (maybe some overlapping) be tested? If I say “Lord, develop my patience to be more like you,” then I should expect a series of trials that drive me to be more patient. If this is not what I am expecting, then perhaps my prayers should be “Lord, please make the people around me less irritating and more sensitive to my personal desires.”
My heart has been praying; I have no idea what for or about, but I’ve felt my heart reaching out to God. The Holy Spirit, dwelling within me and therefore knowing me more intimately than I know myself, has lifted my secret requests up to the Father’s feet.
This was confirmed today, as I was tested. There is something within me, maybe just my being as a whole, that feels the need to be more like Jesus, and it was tested. I failed. God prevailed.
Yesterday (the day before, and even today) I was exhausted. As I shared this with my dear friend Gretchen, it occurred to me that I pray so often to go through life on the Lord’s strength, but I always back down or look for ways out. I say to myself, “Self, you have been working hard. Perhaps you could get out of this responsibility, because you’ve gone above and beyond the call of duty.”
Rubbish! How prideful: conceited: weak! It is in that moment that I stand on these two verses, which are paraphrased by myself:
I can do all things he needs me to do with the strength of Jesus; especially if I am weak, because then it is his strength my things are done by. (Guess the two verses I smashed together!)
How foolish of me to expect to be taught, to even beg to be taught, and then to draw back when it is time to put the teaching I have received into action. It is not unlike a student who does his homework, is active in his classes, and then decides to skip class on finals day, knowing the final is worth 80% of the grade.
The purpose of this thought, the encouragement I hope to share, is to not back down or fear the tests. Our time on earth is so small; every day I move one day closer to being with the LORD. When I finally walk beside my Jesus, I can’t wait to hold his hand and recount the various things he’s taught me. He will not be new, he will not be a stranger. Instead he will be familiar, he will be my teacher and he will be comfortable, because he will have lead me through many dangers, toils and snares.