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Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Pushing past the hardness

You have handled Your servant well, O Eternal One, as You promised. Help me to learn good judgment and knowledge because I believe Your commandments. Before I had trouble, I strayed from the true path, the path of righteousness, but now I live according to Your word. You are truly good, and Your acts are too; teach me what You require. (Psalm 119:65-68 VOICE)

The learning of good judgment and knowledge are not always that easy.  We all learn at different paces and with different "learning styles".  I wonder how God keeps all that straight about us - I had a hard enough time figuring out my own two kids!  Yet, God does know our "style" and how it is we learn best.  He custom designs life lessons for us all the time, preparing us with each one we face for the next thing he is about to do in our lives.  This might be the hardest lesson to learn - the stuff we are going through right now may not be what he is really teaching us - it is just a doorway to the next thing he is about to do in and through our lives.  This especially is hard for us to accept when what we are facing today is kind of making us feel rather like the world is against us!

Being in the place where all of life seems to be a challenge - akin to an uphill hike on a hot summer's day without water, shade, or even a good resting spot - isn't easy.  In fact, we probably want to just cash in our chips and go back to the way things "used to be".  Anyone else like me in those kind of moments - just kind of wanting life to be "easy" again?  The problem is that we have selective memories of how life "used to be"!  It really wasn't all that easy - it was just the lessons were "basic" and became the building blocks for the next step of lessons we are on the mission to learning today!  It is like us being in kindergarten, first grade, and so on.  We'd have all dropped out of school if they handed us high school math and English lessons when we sat down on that mat the first day of kindergarten!

The truth of the matter is that "hard stuff" helps us learn the lessons of good judgment and true knowledge.  These things just don't come to us on a silver platter - they are mostly learned in the challenging times and what feel like places of broken hearts and tattered emotions.  I used to resist these times like all that mattered was "keeping things the same". In the years which have passed, I have learned that "the same" is actually the arch-enemy of learning and growing!  Think about it.  If a seed could talk, it might just be heard saying, "This ground is too hard, the pressure around me too great, and the dryness I feel right now just isn't conducive to anything good."  The seed doesn't understand that the best is yet to come!

As that seed begins to split open, a tiny root protruding, exploring the surrounding hard place in which it has been planted, it begins to send forth a small shoot of growth.  It isn't "grown", nor is the growth complete by any means.  In fact, much "hardness" and "resistance" still must be broken through.  That seed splits open to let that growth begin to take root.  Oftentimes, the best lessons in life are learned when we allow our lives to be laid wide open to God's hand and embrace the hardness around us rather than resisting it.  Yep, the work of "growing" is indeed filled with effort and hardness we might not want to have faced, but in the end as we break through the surface and begin to feel the warmth of his light fully on our face, we find the effort and hardship was all worth it!  Just sayin!