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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Not another one!

Those who stand firm during testing are blessed. They are tried and true. They will receive the life God has promised to those who love him as their reward. (James 1:12 CEB)

There are certainly times of testing and trial - when you don't feel like you are ever going to be out from under the pressure of "issues" that just keep surfacing. You just get your head to the surface again, gulp a little fresh air, and another wave comes crashing down over you! Some time ago, I watched a movie about the first black Navy diver portrayed by Cuba Gooding, Jr. - born to a poor family, joining the military in hopes of finding that "better life". It is the story of our lives, isn't it? We want something "better", taking steps in that direction, only to find the "distance" between what we had and what we want is gigantically longer, harder, and more challenging than we ever expected.

Gooding soon comes to realize he isn't going to be "accepted" just because he wants to join the elite squad of divers - he must prove himself over and over again to both his peers and his instructors. We often want what others say we cannot have or accomplish, don't we? Some call us dreamers, or "out of touch with reality" just because we want what they believe we will never quite be "good enough" to reach. When pushed to our max, we bounce back, amazing even ourselves at times for the ability to "recover" and "get beyond" what some would label as "set back" after "set back".

The truth of the matter is that absolutely nothing that comes very easily in life actually makes our roots stronger - it merely blesses us and makes life a little "better" at the moment. Those things we never worked for, struggled to attain, or put forth some effort to enjoy are simply not going to help us stand strong in the midst of the battle. The sooner we realize the "fiber of our being" is made strong not by having a dream, but by putting forth the effort to see that dream become a reality, the less we will resist the waves and waves of resistance that comes with those dreams!

Maybe you have spoken those words lately that tell someone you just need a break from what you have been going through. Perhaps you have uttered those prayers out loud to God asking for something to "go right" for a change. This is only natural when pushed to the edge of our capacity. In basic training, I remember being pushed way beyond what some could endure. We each had the dream of being part of the "graduating class" at the end of that training, but week after week there were those who just couldn't make it. They didn't have "what it took" to make it to the finish line.

"What it takes" is sometimes contrary to what the world thinks it will take. When our marriage is challenged beyond what others may think is "repairable" - we dig in and try a little harder - confounding those who think we should just cash in our chips and walk away with our losses. When our kids are balancing on the edge of some very poor decisions and facing consequences we don't want them to go through - we stand by them while they endure those consequences - not because we want harm for them, but because we love them so deeply we help them to develop a few deeper roots of their own.

Capacity isn't "pre-determined" - it is developed over time. As we embrace the difficulties of the hard places and push beyond what some might think ever possible, we send roots deeper. Those roots are what will give us anchor and help us to stand strong. Capacity is expanded - not just accepted as a "set amount". It isn't stagnant - it is a growing and vibrant part of who we are as kids of the King. Just sayin!