The last two months have been very (maybe insert words like “difficult/trying/hard”?) insightful.
I expect trials.
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds….” James 1:2
I just didn’t expect the various ones that were chasing me down.
(My trials are like grains of sand compared to the loss of a dear friend’s spouse. I’m sure she would echo the bullets below. I love you, Diane. And I’m praying for you ceaselessly.)
What pulled me through and caused growth and failure and repentance and changed desires and new relationships and modified other relationships?
1. God’s Word
3. True Fellowship
The first two are obvious to a Christian. The last one has escaped me so often. I’m glad the Spirit opens the eyes of our hearts to remember what the Lord says in His Word. He provides the right people at the right moment.
There are a handful of brothers and sisters who have faithfully pushed me towards holiness. God bless you. I’m forever grateful. I hope I can fulfill the reciprocal nature of Proverbs 27:17.
I’m finishing one book, The Next Story by Tim Challies, and am near purchasing another one, True Community by Jerry Bridges. Here are a few “principles” I am learning are essential for what it means to be a true biblical friend:
- one who prays for his brother…and tells him that he is doing so
- one who puts away his cellphone (dare I say, turns OFF his cellphone!) to have a real, face-to-face, courageous, selfless conversation with someone who is secretly hurting and struggling
- one who encourages his brother with Scripture (verbally, in person or over the phone; via text message or email or Facebook; or, whoa, Pony Express!)
- one who exhorts his brother when he is sinning
- one who confesses his own struggle with choosing sin over holiness and seeks prayer and counsel and accountability because none of us are perfect and we’re all broken and we all need Jesus
- one who gives of his own valuable time to just be there to listen or hang out and pray
Having said all of these things, I’m far from perfect. Here are two sections of Scripture that are challenging me today:
“For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” 1 Peter 2:19-25
“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:12-14
Is there someone you need to reach out to? (I received a phone call near the end of my writing this post. I was tempted to rush through the call so I could complete this novel, but the Spirit gently reminded me that I had better be selfless and not a Pharisee. Praise the Lord for immediate “practice what I preach” moments.)