I was going to write about pizza today. Really. But I think I’ll take a more serious route today, mostly because I’m thinking serious thoughts. And well, I like to think on paper, or computer screen, or whatever.
But on a not serious note, my car part is sitting on the front porch. It’s mostly mocking me because my car is in the shop. I’m not at the shop and Travis is at work, so there it sits. Laughing at me.
I am a firm believer in God speaking. To me or to you. And God speaks in many ways. I don’t really have time to do all of the research necessary to line out my argument for God speaking to people. It’s found all throughout the Bible and some Christians believe in it and some don’t. I do and this is my blog. And this is the stuff I write about.
Testing. We’ve all been there. Our family is there now and I really didn’t see it coming. I have to say that at first I was really angry. It just seemed like we’d been through enough and I hadn’t had time to fully enjoy recovering from that. And then the Lord asked us to step out in faith. And we did. And it absolutely did not go the way we expected it to. I didn’t understand then and I don’t really understand now. But one day as I was walking outside I was thinking about everything that was happening and how I didn’t understand any of it and I heard the Lord whisper, “If you were supposed to understand, you would.” It’s amazing to me how something so simple can be so profound.
During that time of walking it out other things were happening too. Amanda and Brian broke up. And that’s not my story to tell but I shared with you all that they were together and it was serious so I should probably at least let you know that they aren’t together. And watching Amanda deal with all of that pain has been really hard. There have been several things in the last few months that I was hoping for or prayed for and I’d come out of a time of prayer only to find out the exact opposite of what I prayed for was happening. It happened time after time, one thing after another until I finally realized that God was speaking. Not in a voice but through my circumstances it became very apparent that God wanted me to learn how to deal with disappointment in a way that was healthy.
I’m a stuffer. Any other stuffers out there? What’s a stuffer? A stuffer is one who deals with disappointment or anger or frustration or anything else by not dealing with it but stuffing it inside and pretending it didn’t happen. Or by holding a grudge. Unfortunately, there’s only so much stuffing that one can do before it all starts spewing out like a volcano. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that’s a bad way to handle things.
So I had to deal with disappointment. I’ve hinted at it a bit in some of my previous posts but the crux of it is that I had to learn to deal with things. Putting it off until I was sobbing wasn’t going to be an option anymore. Okay, disappointment dealt with.
Then there came more and more things I realized that I needed to deal with. During a prayer time the Holy Spirit reminded me of some specific people that had done some really rotten things to me. I said that I’d forgiven them but I didn’t really do it the right way because I still held a grudge. I didn’t realize that I was but it was there. It wasn’t even terribly difficult to deal with, I just forgave them and let go of the grudge. I thought, “Wow, that was easy!”
And I realized that sure, I’ve dealt with a lot of things. Sin, attitudes (oh, how I could talk about my attitude!), actions, etc. And I found a level of freedom in Christ that I never thought possible. Coincidentally, freedom in Christ means real freedom in every day life. But there was residue. Things that were hanging on that I didn’t realize were there. And the Holy Spirit was chipping away at them nearly daily.
It really reminded me of the episode of Myth Busters with the cement truck. Have you ever seen that one? It ended up with the cement truck being blown to bits and I’m really glad the Holy Spirit doesn’t work that way.
So where are we now? Well, we’ve stepped out in faith again and again we’re getting clobbered. Did you know that your mortgage can go up because the FHA decides to charge more for PMI? I didn’t but now I do. Your mortgage company can also present you with a bill for $xxx because not enough money was put into escrow to cover the raise in PMI. On top of the car repairs, on top of homeschool supplies, on top of putting Chloe in the academy, oh and taxes that we have to pay this year. It’s actually starting to seem a little bit ridiculous.
So I was thinking about it the other night and I wondered if I could actually “count it all joy.”
2Count it all joy, my brothers,b when you meet trials of various kinds, 3for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4
Could I do it? Is it possible? How can I find joy when things are getting more and more difficult?
(I want to take a moment to say that what Travis and I are dealing with now is nothing like what we’ve dealt with in the past. There is a distinct difference between faith being tested and dealing with the effects of hidden sin. That is another thing for (maybe) another day but it’s different. It looks different. There is (as pastor Dale would say) a different aroma. There is no blanket of oppression hovering over our house. There isn’t a sense of impending doom. There is nothing here but hope in our creator. That God is absolutely in control of all of this and that he is working all of this for our good.)
So, can I count it all joy? As I was lying in bed, thinking about all of this I decided I’d give it a shot. I mean, in the past I’ve been depressed, frustrated, angry, fearful and pretty much any human emotion that one can experience. It couldn’t really hurt to give it a try, could it? I mean, I could think about it all constantly and crunch the numbers and constantly look at how impossible things are or I could lay it down and think, no, that I could know that God is in control of this and that He is perfecting the work that He started in me. I can know that it’s God’s will for Chloe to be at the Academy next year and that He will provide a way. I can know that this season is just that. It’s a season and it will pass. And it’s going to pass into a new day that I have longed for and looked for and have expected for years. What is it going to look like? I don’t know. But I know it’s good. Because my Father is good. He wastes nothing. And the years that I have seen as lost are going to result in a harvest for the Kingdom.
This isn’t robo-faith. What’s robo-faith? Well, I’ll tell you. A few years ago when Travis and I were still in a horrible state, I was going through Freedom in Christ with my dear friend and mentor. There was a part in the book that asked me to rate how happy I was with life, what I would change, etc. And I said that I was completely happy and that I would change nothing. Lori looked at my tiny little house and my furniture with the holes in it and was somewhat incredulous that I would say such a thing. The truth is that I was completely miserable. Everything in my life (with the exception of my kids) was nothing but misery. She challenged me and because I respect the people that God has place in my life, I prayed about it. And this is what God said, “Amy, you have tried so hard to be perfect in your faith that you’ve become a robot. I haven’t called you to be a robot.”
I didn’t know what to do with that. I took 5 semesters of theology, plus nearly every Bible class known to mankind and I knew the answers. I knew how I was supposed to respond. I knew the right words to say. But under that knowledge and the thought that I should, like Paul, be content in whatever my circumstances, was a seething anger that my circumstances were so miserable.And again, those were not circumstances where I was suffering for the gospel. It’s different.
So, robo-faith is not real faith. That’s my point. That’s the “stuffing” and lying to myself that I talked about a couple of posts ago.
How is this going to end? I’m really not sure. I’m not going to make any grand declarations of the specifics of what God is going to do. He hasn’t revealed the whole plan. He has given me some things to pray about. He is absolutely redeeming the past. And we are moving forward. Sometimes slowly, sometimes with tears. But today I will count it all joy. And tomorrow, by His grace, I will.