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Thursday, November 1, 2012

More than a game

As a kid, we'd play games like hide and seek.  The goal was to find such a good hiding place that absolutely no one could find you.  There was no prize or medal at the end, but there was some "unwritten" acknowledgement of your "awesomeness" as a great "hider".  I had this one friend you didn't hide so much to win the honor of being the best hider, but he wanted to be the best "scarer" in the group!  He'd hide just around the corner, cleverly hid by something, then when you were gawking around trying to find him, he jump out and shout loudly, "Boo!" - we'd all get caught up in celebrating the shrieks of his unknowing "victims".  In time, if anyone played this game with him long enough, they'd get to be know his plan!  But...no amount of knowing what laid ahead made us ready for the moment when he jumped out into our path!  We still were startled and sometimes could not help but "shriek" at the moment of discovering him just around the corner!

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. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.  (James 1:1-3 MSG)

It would be naive to think life will be like a big game of hide and seek, wouldn't it?  To go through life believing everything will be as easy as finding the next issue just around the corner just waiting to be discovered would be a little foolish.  No issue is easy - and most are not all that easily discovered!  In fact, issues present themselves in different "packages" and at different "seasons" in our lives.  Some just remain hidden, quietly waiting to be discovered - others are just laying in wait, hoping to jump out at you with all the gusto they can muster.  They hope to catch you off-guard and to see you panic in their discovery - much like my friend relished the moment of terror he invoked with his loud and boisterous "Boo!"

James tells us to consider it a "gift" when we encounter issues.  Hmmm....a "gift", really?  Yep, because we often receive what we need the most when we least expect it!  A gift is by definition is the giving of something which renders assistance to the receiver.  James reminds us these "gifts" of tests and challenges are what place us "under pressure".  My friend had a way of placing us "under pressure" each time we played the game with him.  We KNEW he was waiting in the lurch for us, but we almost ALWAYS responded the way HE expected, no matter how prepared we THOUGHT we were for him!  Did you catch that?  We THOUGHT we'd be able to "stand strong" and not scream our full heads off!  We KNEW he was there - somewhere - just laying in wait.  Yet, our "knowing" did not do enough to "prepare" us for the discovery of his frightful discovery!

You know, life has some pretty "frightful discoveries", doesn't it?  We THINK we are ready for them, but alas, we jump back, scream our full heads off, and sometimes run in fear from them!  Life is full of things which put us "under pressure" - things which would be manageable if they were "out in the open" right up front!  But...they are hidden and it is in their discovery that they cause us the greatest concern and fright!  It could be a growth in your body, cleverly concealed until one day the doctor says, "We've got a problem."  Or it could be the cleverly masked relationship issues which give each of us so much cause for concern through life.  It doesn't matter what the issue, there are definitely times when the discovery of the issue is more traumatic than the issue itself!

My friend liked to reveal our "true colors".  We'd boast about how we were not "afraid" of him, but deep down, we were concerned we'd be caught off-guard and be screaming our full heads off in front of the friends we proclaimed our "strength" in front of!  Silly us!  We "declare" so much in our testimony, but we don't "display" as much as we "declare", do we?  If my friend were to play this game with me today, knowing full-well his desire to catch me off-guard, I imagine I'd be just as goofy as I was then and shriek in terror at his jumping out in my path!  My "true colors" would be exposed - even after all these years!  Remember this - age does not ensure wisdom, it just ages the body and mind!

True colors are most telling, are they not?  It is God's greatest joy to see our "true colors" revealed.  Until we expose ourselves for the "phonies" we are in our own strength, we never realize the need for a strength which is not our own!  Pressures "force out" the truth, don't they?  It is like squeezing a tube of toothpaste.  At first, it may come out all neat and in a straight little row, but as the tube begins to empty, the "stuff" left in there doesn't come out in the neat little row anymore.  It comes out in blobs - not holding "form" any longer.  Life has a way of "squeezing" us, too.  At first, we hold up to the squeezing, presenting our life in a neat little row, all perfect and put together.  Then, at some point, the squeezing becomes more intense.  The neat little life kind of turns to blobs of mess, doesn't it?  Our true colors are exposed.  In those moments, God is most pleased - for it is in the emptying of ourselves of our "put together" life that he is able to get us emptied of the stuff which is not so well put together!

In the discovery of what our "true colors" are, we are open to the "glory" just around the corner, not the terror!  Just sayin!