Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Trying Times

Romans 12:1-2 "I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect."

My study Bible says that this "testing" is the Greek word, dokimazo, which often has the sense of finding out the worth of something by putting it to use or testing it in actual practice. (this word is also used in Luke 14:19, 1 Cor 3:13, 2 Cor 8:22, 1 Tim 3:10)

I read this as "after you've offered your whole life to God for His purposes, and renewed your mind, saturated your life with God's word, and prayed for power, give [it] a whole hearted try!"

Have you ever driven loop 430 around Little Rock? I've approached that juncture from a couple directions -at least once a year- the past 20 years of my life. I have looked at maps, asked advice, and had friends helping me in the passenger seat. And I'm chock full of "experience". Even so, I only take the correct exit a strong 65% of the time. The first time I missed it, I didn't even notice until I had gone around the entire city of LR! In subsequent misses, I noticed sooner, even immediately. I still had to go around to the next opportunity to get back on the path. Frustrated insecurities arise because I had all the information available to me and I was paying careful attention to each decision, and I STILL missed the way at times. But each time I just had to try. And KEEP paying attention until it was confirmed that this time I actually did it right! (and don't think I wasn't callin' some folks cheering myself on!)

Just as I get a little nervous each time I approach that loop, there are times in my spiritual life when I get that, "Oh, great, here we go again....I'm not sure, I'm never sure, this stinks!" feeling. Pulling over for a moment to focus (or phone a friend) is not bad, but stalling too long will only prolong the inevitable and insure a 100% failure rate. Pray and Go for it.

Sometimes we picture God's apparent enjoyment of a good mystery as Him sending us on a wild goose chase. We're running around, trying different things, almost attaining stuff, coming so close, and the whole time He's sort of snickering thinking, "So close, and yet so far away!"

We would do well to think of the game as a treasure hunt. We're running from one spot to the next, getting a clue here, a piece of the puzzle there, coming closer and closer. And the whole time God is beaming with delight, "She's so close! and getting closer every moment!"

Thank You God for loving me and saving me from my bondage. Thank You for Your promises. Give me a hunger to know them more. Help us know the paths we should take and when we bobble, post bigger signs! And if we loop around in our confusion, thank You for Your constant Presence, Your comforting patience, and Your promise to finish what You've begun in us.