A couple weeks ago I attended a Communication seminar with a dear friend and fellow dreamer. The whole way to the seminar I kept telling myself, "you don't need to be here." I searched high and low for an excuse to back out. My mind was chock full of myriad of tasks at home and work to be done, not to mention the guilt of leaving my husband in charge of the household and kids for 4 days-again! BUT GOD knew better.
At the training I found myself uncomfortable with the repetitive drills to teach how to communicate in such a way that felt beyond my natural inclinations. My natural bend was to not confront my discomfort, to hold the all that troubled me inside until the kettle was piping hot with boiling water and explode on little, inconsequential behaviors or annoyances. By the end of the first day of class I I was exhausted from drilling this new behavior.
The next morning I woke up, and opened my devotion book, Jesus Always by Sarah Young. One of the verses for this particular day, James 1:2-4, opened my eyes to see why this class had been so troubling for me and what I needed to learn through it. My ability, my desire even, to confront trouble was in need of major repair.
James 1:2-4 (NLT) says, "Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing." I have read these words hundreds of times before. But this day, "endurance" jumped off the page and gave me a black eye.
At the first sign of trouble, I shut down, I cower, I run and hide. Instead God called me to confront the trouble. To stare it down in the face and not let the trouble take over me. What did this have to do to with endurance. Well, endurance only begins and builds if I have the courage to stop running from the trouble, and make the choice to stay, to face it.
Thayer's Greek Lexicon describes endurance as "the characteristic of a man who is unswerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and suffering." When I hide, when I allow my fears to take hold, when I don't confront I allow my faith to be swerved. No wonder it has been so hard for me to wrap my mind around verse 1,"consider it an opportunity for great joy." I have been too busy hiding out, to confront and endure the trials to discover the joy available to me.
The cry of my heart today is for you, like me, to stop wasting years cowering in fear, and live in the joy that comes from endurance and be unswerved from the deliberate purpose God has given you.