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Sunday, January 17, 2016

Softening or hardening - all in the same water

Have you ever seen that little saying posted on someone's timeline or maybe in a little sign in someone's office which simply reminds you the same boiling water which can soften a hard potato is also responsible for making a runny egg hard? The idea is our circumstances can change us - it depends on how we view them, what we allow to happen to us "through" them, and if we are even willing to get into them in the first place! I don't know about you, but there are just some "boiling water" circumstances I don't want to face sometimes! I would rather not be in the pot of water at all, let's just be honest here! I honestly don't think I am alone on this one - there are just times we'd rather skip the "boiling" process and get whatever results will come without it! Ever try eating a raw potato? It is okay, but I prefer mine mashed, with a little milk, and rich butter! I know there are health advisories about under-cooked or raw eggs, so I am pretty sure I wouldn't just open one of those babies up and slurp it down in a big gulp! I rather like mine scrambled, but even that process kind of adds a little "complexity" to egg which wasn't there before - the parts become mixed up and not as easily recognizable as when they were "whole" and "unmixed". Life just isn't simple, is it? Rather than resisting the process, maybe we'd do better to consider what the process may provide!

Don’t run from tests and hardships, brothers and sisters. As difficult as they are, you will ultimately find joy in them; if you embrace them, your faith will blossom under pressure and teach you true patience as you endure. And true patience brought on by endurance will equip you to complete the long journey and cross the finish line—mature, complete, and wanting nothing. (James 1:2-4 VOICE)

Yep, I will admit it - I am a runner on occasion!  I'd rather find the escape hatch and be prepared to get out of the water if it gets too hot than see it through to the end!  For example, facing our relationship problems head-on can be time-consuming, emotionally charged, and often reveal there are things about us which need to change.  We'd rather bale on that one at times - because change is hard (especially when it is change in us and not the other guy which needs to occur). Tests and hardships - not all come in the "boiling water" fashion, do they?  Sometimes those tests come in pretty boxes, all wrapped up nicely with absolutely no hint there is a test at the other end!  There doesn't have to be steam rising from the pot to signal a test is about to hit us head-on ... the circumstances just need to be aligned to produce the test!

Looking at our passage today, there is this idea of our faith "blossoming" under pressure.  I have to think of the seed planted in the earth.  The first pressure it endures is that of being planted under all that weight of soil.  If that weren't enough, it has to crack the shell or outer coating which protects it in order for any growth to come forth.  That isn't all for the seed though, for there is the pressure of putting down that first root and all the subsequent ones which come after.  Not enough pressure yet?  Now it has to send an upward shoot through that weight of soil to find daylight and actually begin to produce whatever that seed is designed to produce!  Still not enough pressure?  It has to endure dry seasons, wet seasons, cold, and heat, light and darkness, pesky insects and hungry birds - to just name a few of those additional "pressures"!  Yet, the seed does what it was created to do - it goes through each of those "steps" in the process because that is how growth occurs!

In our own lives, the trials or pressures of life may seem a little unnecessary, but as with the seed, each of those "pressures" are actually designed for something special in our lives - we cannot bypass them!  The pressure or weight of life's challenges may not be comfortable for us, but they are necessary!  It seems from our study today patience is what will help us endure and it is what will bring us through to the other side of whatever "pressure" we might be enduring right now.  Pressure can produce both "hard" and totally strong things like diamonds - brilliant beyond measure - but it can also soften to the point of pliability and mold-able capacity. It might be we will see diamond like strength and brilliance of character with one type of pressure; but then see flexibility and softening by another.  When it comes to relationships, maybe we need the latter to see two really become one in mind, soul, and spirit; whereas when it comes to facing hardship, we need the diamond-like strength and brilliance!

Remember this - it is the same water!  Could it be the water is only a medium by which God exerts whatever pressure it is we need today?  Rather than cursing the water, maybe it is time to appreciate the brilliance of the one who watches over us in the water until the process is completed!  Just sayin!