Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Challenge Wrapped Gifts

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges
come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors.

James 1:2-3 (The Message)

It wasn’t until I was in college that I heard the word, oxymoron. Besides liking the “sound” of the word, the logophile in me quickly copied it onto my brain’s hard drive. A coming together of two thoughts, two words that seem to contradict each other, in fact, may even seem to cancel each other out. Linking tests and challenges with gift is an oxymoron at its finest.

Reflecting on the various challenges that have reared up in my life over the years, I discover that it is only when looking back that I am able to see the “gift”. In the midst of it, I never saw the broad place, that the psalmist describes (Psalm 18:19), for the view of boulders, mountains and forests.

But of this I am certain; who I was then, is a dull reflection of the “me” I am now. Age has, in this respect, made me more agile. With each test I’m a little quicker to my knees. The challenges aren’t so daunting and that is saying something because, like some kind of weird obstacle course, they seem to be getting trickier, meaner and more exhausting!

Now, with resolve and clarity, I can say that I long for my faith to “show its true color.” There are no promises of the condition I’ll be in when I come out to the broad place, but my fervent prayer is that how I lived, how I conducted myself “in the thick of it” will be an arrow pointing to the One who can make all things new.

Jesus, while I can’t see the end
I know and believe that you will see me through.
Help me, to keep moving forward, and with each
step let me grow stronger and more agile.

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