Conflict within, conflict without--seeking Jesus

"In this world, you have tribulation, but take courage." Jesus

Seems at times, I write the same things over and over again. It is because I am learning the same things over and over again.

If there is one thing I do not like, (I am a strong feeler on Myers-Briggs.), it is conflict. I want everyone to be happy. I want everyone to have harmony and to get along. I long for harmony in my life.

But if there is one thing I have learned, this world where we live is a battle. The ground is cursed and produces thorns and thistles when we work, and really it means, everything tends towards disorder, (second law of thermo-dynamics).

Relationships are a challenge as all the people I have ever met are sinners and fragile and make mistakes.

Children are born self-centered and self-absorbed, and so training them to become unselfish, and to have a servant heart, will cost us years of our lives--we have to go against their very nature, to help them to become mature.

And then there is my sinful self--we won't talk about how many regrets I have for all the ways I have been petty or selfish over the years.

Seems there is conflict everywhere--in my family, with my children's friends, in church, with my friends and co-workers, you name it--it is just lurking somewhere around the corner.

And if there is anything that makes me want to quit ministry, it is conflict or misunderstanding.

And yet, if I were to be honest, it is the times of conflict, difficulty, stress, in which He has worked most in my soul.

It is in falling or being accused that I knew more about the need to give people the grace I would have wanted. It is in being unjustly accused, that I became more humble and needy of Him. It is in struggling through the conflict that has evolved over years in our family circle, that I learned to have compassion on other women who have struggled with their own backgrounds. It is in bearing with my children and serving them, that God has taught me how deeply He loves me that He would bear with me and love me and serve me, in spite of myself, because I am His child.

And so, I am learning and have learned, that it is at these very points of stress, where our character is revealed and formed.

Jesus has become my contemplation more and more as I become older.

"While being reviled, he did not revile in return, but kept trusting Himself to God, who judges righteously." I Peter 2:23

The older I become, the more I fall in love with Jesus. He could have screamed and yelled and become frustrated and accused, so many, many times. He has every right to be frustrated with me--I say I want to follow Him and then I do something petty.

And yet, He offers love, over and over again--"Father, I desire that they know the love I have known from the very beginning."

He is gentle, He is patient, He loves abundantly and generously, even though none of us deserves it.

And so, running away is not an option. It is challenge and difficulty where unconditional love is most miraculous. Bringing love and gentleness and courage into darkness heals, relieves, brings light.

And so, running away is not an option. If I want Him to make my soul into the likeness of Jesus, I must strive, work, seek to attain His gentle ways, His sacrificial love, His peace-making heart. It is the carving of His reflection on my soul. And so, more and more, I humbly seek Him, pray to Him, ask Him to help me be filled with His spirit, so that I may not offend Him, but may, out of great gratitude become, every year, more and more of a great lover.

So, today, if you really love Him,

you may not run away, I may not run away--

Nobility of His Holy Spirit will spur us on to love, peacemaking, and graciousness, because this is what He will live out through those who love Him the most-unrelenting, firm, excellent love.

Greater love has no one than this, that a man lay down His life for a friend.