There are a lot of things wrong with the world. On a much smaller level, there are many things about our life right now that I would change, had I the power to do it. James would have a job -- preferably one that brought in a decent income and didn't drive him nuts (ooh, and that has good benefits). The price of oil would be up and the wells in which we're invested would be top producers. My baby wouldn't have a heart defect.
As hopeful as I am about each of these things, as much blessing as I've experienced in the course of things being exactly as they are, I still have my moments where I just want to wave a magic "fix it" stick and have it all be
I had a very honest moment with Jesus today in which I told Him just that. That sometimes I'm tired of it and just want a break. That as glad as I am that what we're going through means He's loving us and disciplining us toward holiness, sometimes I just wish it could all be the way I want it to be -- in truth, even though the reality of it completely disgusts me -- a little like a gospel of prosperity: if you love Jesus and obey Him, He will give you health and wealth and the American dream to boot!
I know it doesn't work that way. And on many levels, I'm deeply and profoundly thankful that it doesn't.
These thoughts got me to wondering: say things really did turn out the way I wanted. Say Ewan was miraculously healed (or, the doctors said, "Oops, sorry, we had the wrong baby!"), James had the perfect job, and everything was peachy. Say everything in my life had been this way: no challenge, no troubles, no resistance. What would I be like? Would I have any depth or strength or character? Would I care about the things I care about? Would I even be me?
I have a strong suspicion that without any kind of resistance in my life, without trials, hardships, whatever you will call them -- I would be vapid and shallow, disinterested and entirely uninteresting. I couldn't relate to anyone. I just might be the kind of person, who when she heard the poor had run out of bread to eat would say: "Then let them eat cake!" (which, by the way, Marie Antoinette didn't really say either).
What's true of our bodies is true of our spirits, our souls, our whole persons as well: strength is built when an opposing force is resisted. I've written about this before. Just like strength of body, strength of spirit doesn't "just happen" either. Someone who lounges on the sofa eating Doritos all day cannot expect to have a toned and muscled body, and neither can a spiritual couch potato expect to be a saint, or to achieve the holiness Christ desires for us. Previously, I wrote this:
Make no mistake: getting stronger hurts. It is a slow process. If we look at this from a physiological point of view again, getting stronger requires that we deliberately engage our muscles against the weight we are lifting. It requires that we repeat the motion of lifting or pressing, engaging our muscles repeatedly to the point of fatigue. In so doing, muscle fibers are broken down ... In the days of rest that follow, the fibers are built back up, stronger than they were before. And we do it again and again.Ouch. Yeah. Good reminder to myself.
The funny thing about all this is is that when I write, I tend to put the stronger stuff out there: the things that I can reason and know, sometimes at the expense of what I actually feel. But the truth is, oftentimes they butt up against each other, like two boxers with gloves braced, and I wonder if one reality might punch the lights out of the other. And sometimes I get stuck between them, feeling the push and pull from both sides.
This is when I need to be reminded to look up: look up to our High Priest -- the one Who is able to sympathize with our weaknesses, the one Who was tested just as we are. This is when I need to be reminded what it's all for. I need to remember that if I'm to run a good race, I will get tripped up if I spend too much time looking down at my feet, or veer off course if too much time is spent looking over my shoulder. I need to look up. And when I tire, wishing I could know what and how and when -- this is when I need to remember that I will never know what and how and when (maybe not even in retrospect), but I do know Who.
Jesus. One foot in front of the other, breathing His name with every step.
photo taken by james // processing by me