"In this world, you have tribulation, but take courage." Jesus
"Mama, I hope the world will always be a happy place 'cause it makes me feel sad when people cry."
I still remember the serious face of my sweet girl when she said this.
How I wish I could give all of my children a world where people were fair, life was easy, and no one If there is one thing I do not like, it is conflict. Because I am a strong feeler on Myers-Briggs, I want everyone to be happy. I want everyone to have harmony and to get along. I long for harmony in my life.
This world where we live is a battleground. . 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).
So it is in the spiritual-emotional realm, as well. 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.
Marriages feel the ravages of this battle, because of brokenness, baggage and scars that all of us bear, sometimes come into the union at its beginning, or develops along the way.
Seems there is conflict everywhere--in my family, with my children's friends, in church, with my friends and co-workers, in marriage. 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.
At 62, I feel like a seasoned pioneer on this challenging journey of life. I have lived through tragedies, illnesses, losses, church splits, deep disappointment with those who called themselves believers and then lived hypocritical behavior with no conscience.
At times, I have felt like David, and asked God why the righteous suffer and the unrighteous prosper?
Perhaps we all feel the darkness and fallenness of this world deeply in our lives and circumstances.
Yet, it is the times of conflict, difficulty, stress, in which He has worked most in my soul. It is in falling or being accused unjustly, 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 and learned to depend on His love.
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 formed. It is also where our character is revealed.
As Joy put up on twitter today,
"Women (People) are like tea bags. You never know how strong they are until you put them in hot water." - E. Roosevelt
When a person is in conflict and their soul is tested, what comes out is what they are in their hearts.
I have had to look into my own heart lately to see what I am made of. And so, 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, with you, with my enemies--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.
Even though conflict makes me want to avoid life, God calls me to run through 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 points others to Him.
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.
God is the carving His reflection and likeness onto 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, even when we do not feel like giving love back.
Greater love has no one than this, that a man lay down His life for a friend.