Back in the day, before I knew any better, I had this ill-conceived idea that I could do anything, anywhere, at any time in my life. I kind of thought of myself as "all powerful" - even believing if I flapped my arms hard enough, I could actually fly. There was a time when I was around 4 or 5 that I actually did believe I could fly - turning over trash cans, climbing up on top of them and flapping into the wind! Now, lest you think I am a little touched in the head, I really could not fly, but my imagination got the best of me for a short period of time. It wasn't long before I was the best "cop" riding a Schwinn two-wheeler in pursuit of those "bad guys" who just robbed the bank, or a mom taking care of her little baby while making dinner out of mud-pies in the backyard. As kids we often think pretty grandiose thoughts about ourselves - our capabilities and our dreams being so BIG we think the world cannot stand in our way. Then we grow up! Before long, we find all kinds of obstacles in our way and wonder where all that enthusiasm for life and "I am all powerful" belief went! Let me tell you, if I had of known how hard life was going to be as an adult, I would have opted to be a kid just a little while longer instead of being so all-fired in a hurry to grow up! What about you? Yet, life comes at us, and time passes - making it impossible for us to remain as "children" in this world - we need to step into the next place prepared for us. Adulthood in the natural sense is kind of like it is in the spiritual sense - it comes upon us in the course of time, but some of us embrace it whole-heartedly, while others of us look back wishing for the simplicity of the past.
My friends, be glad, even if you have a lot of trouble. You know that you learn to endure by having your faith tested. But you must learn to endure everything, so that you will be completely mature and not lacking in anything. (James 1:2-4 CEV)
James has a unique way of looking at life. His attitude is one of embracing whatever comes his way. This is indeed a commendable "habit", but how many of us actually live this way? In truth, we flap our wings, believing we can "fly", but in reality - we stumble a lot! We see ourselves one way - strong, mighty, and courageous; or maybe weak, ill-fit, and kind of wimpy. The way we see ourselves often determines how likely it is we will face the troubles in our midst in a positive, or sometimes kind of not so "enthusiastic" of a manner. We don't "fly" just because we flap our wings, do we? We don't catch the "bad guys" in life just because we can ride fast! We need more than "imaginative curiosity" to keep us going, right? We need something on the inside which helps us take steps when everything else inside of us is saying "I can't" or "I don't think so".
James reminds us of the certainty of troubles - those things which come our way and make it almost impossible for us to get around them. Those things might be ruffled relationships, or a bad situation in a job environment. They could be not feeling good about what we have become over the course of time, because we don't "fit the mold" of what others thought we'd amount to in life. Whatever the reason for the present "obstacles" we face in life, be certain of this - they aren't there to impede our progress, but to cause us to dig deeper and move beyond them. To many who face these obstacles today, I want to say this - they ARE big; they ARE hard; and they ARE going to tax everything inside of you. There - now that we both realize the reality of the difficulty of what lies ahead, let's get on with it!
Sometimes we want to succumb to their "hugeness" in our midst - kind of like a fallen tree in the road, blocking traffic from passing on the right or the left. Let me just tell you this - you may not be able to get around it, over it, or under it - but you can get through it! You don't have to let the obstacle in your midst hold you fast where you are - you have a power within to get beyond it, regardless of how big it might be. I didn't learn to fly by jumping off of trash cans in the front yard. I learned to "fly" by jumping hurdles in my path with the encouragement and power Christ spoke into my life when I needed it the most. I don't have to flap my arms to fly, I just need to pull our my faith a little bit further! Once I realized the obstacles were just a way of revealing the faith Christ had already placed deep within me, I saw the obstacles differently. They became a way to reveal more of Christ's power in me, more of his grace through me, and more of his solid foundation anchoring me.
We all "grow up" - be we don't always grow wiser, more understanding, or more convinced of the extent of the completeness of God's work within us. This is where the obstacles come into play in our lives. They are there to reveal these things in us. If we begin to see them as revealers of truth rather than claimers of our victory, we might just face them differently! Just sayin!