What Happens in the Normal Life, If You’re Lucky, Maybe…

black-girl-flower

“I despaired at the thought that my life might slip by without seeing God show himself mightily on our behalf.” ―Jim Cymbala, Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire

Jim Cymbala captures the heart of every soul seeking something more, yearning for significance to rise from all of life’s heartache, desiring the God of the universe to show Himself strong. While living a normal life, you find yourself hard pressed on every side, cast down, even perplexed, and if you’re lucky, the glimmer of hope in the goodness of God will shine brighter than the burdens you bear. Maybe this is the trajectory most often traveled in bringing God absolute glory. Perhaps, our problems equally beckon us to either “slip by” relatively unscathed by the clamor of desire or to embrace the center of our suffering with a heart still anchored in hope, still searching for miraculous intervention in the middle of life’s searing storms.

How unfortunate it is to go through life untouched by tragedy. Not that you must intentionally familiarize yourself with trauma, but wholehearted living requires embracing both beautiful and bitter morsels of your journey. In the normal life, trouble will darken your doorstep, and how unlucky you’d be if sorrow never swept your way between stretches of deep satisfaction and great achievements. That’s right. Unlucky if you remain unchanged by the pain that daily surrounds you and implores you to purpose it. Unlucky if you haven’t a single problem or unmet need that keeps you ever seeking our Sovereign Savior, ever stretching to reach beyond your grasp.

What a terrible waste of unlimited potential to skate safely through the life experiences that change so many others at the core, to never be transformed by loss, or heartache, or practicing to delight in the minutiae of seemingly mundane events. In the normal life, distance from Eden’s untainted perfection will ravage your soul and scar you deeply. If you’re lucky, you won’t be too rushed to “keep calm and carry on” or too willing to hide your heart at the first pinprick of pain. If you’re lucky, your agony won’t be invisible. Others will see your broken places, and maybe catch a glimpse of God shining from the cracks you refuse to conceal.

In the normal life, you’ll chance upon conflict. If you’re lucky, you’ll engage in loving confrontations that bear lasting fruit of deepened friendships, and maybe you’ll grow from the thing you didn’t avoid. In the normal life, doubt will visit your toughest decisions. If you’re lucky, repentance will swiftly follow the heels of remorse, and maybe you’ll choose your regrets more wisely when chasing second chances with those you love. Cruelty and cynicism swirl all around us, mingled with joy and generosity, and if you remain unaffected by it, you’ll miss the beautiful ways you were meant to reveal God’s glory. So, this is an invitation to open your heart to the things you’d rather avoid, to embrace every part of your story, especially the seemingly nuisance interruptions, to acknowledge the pain wrought by living a few thousand years past paradise, a summons to live with your whole heart expecting to be awed by God in the intricate details of your story, a request to open your heart to both the tragic and transformative nature of a normal life.

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Broken for His Purpose

I was in a chat app with a few brilliant, beautiful souls with whom I shared what God has again been reminding me of lately: It probably seemed like forever between the time Joseph proclaimed the truths of his dream and when it finally came to pass. He found himself in a pit, was sold into slavery, and no doubt praised God for his time in Potiphar’s house. Maybe he even thought he was on the heels of realizing that dream, but then found himself wrongfully accused and imprisoned. He even had to watch as others were freed before him. But ultimately, God’s vision is for HIS appointed time, and if GOD says it, it WILL come to pass (Habakkuk 2:3)!

One awesome chat member questioned how we “Josephs” of today can avoid such perilous lessons and why God can’t just trust us without such hefty trials. My response was this: I don’t believe there’s ONE human being so trustworthy. God’s Word warns us that the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. Who can know it (Jeremiah 17:9)? To address our heart condition, the Word declares that silver is refined in the fire, but God uses the furnace of affliction (Isaiah 48:10). However, assuming some of us are so upright that we would remain chaste without chastening, have we considered that our trials may be solely for the purpose of meeting someone else in the depth of their pain, used solely for the purpose of bringing someone else to Christ, solely for the purpose of bringing HIM glory? Maybe some things we go through JUST so that we can comfort others with the same comfort with which we ourselves have been comforted (2 Corinthians 1:4). As Pastor Burden recently illuminated for me, God cares more about His eternal purposes than your immediate deliverance. Sometimes what you’re going through is because God is looking for an occasion with someone (as He was with the Philistines through Samson; Judges 14:1-4).

Later I received a Words with Friends game board from a wonderful lady who thought I was someone who helped her after a life-changing car accident 7 years ago. The accident left her with numerous broken bones, bionic prostheses, and enduring pain from traumatic nerve damage. At the end of the day, her testimony is that she’s had an opportunity to be a witness of God’s sustaining power in places she’d have never been if God didn’t see fit to break her for His purpose. Her hospital roommate accepted Christ into her life before dying, and while she wishes she were still able to ski, but can’t because of the accident, she swims instead and has worshiped and prayed poolside with Christians, Jews, Muslims, you name it! How would they have known, if she had not been sent, if God had not seen fit to break her for His purposes (Romans 10:14)?

To sum things up, when you find yourself wondering, “Why me?” or “Why this?” Consider the beauty of being broken for His glory! I don’t know what my new friend’s body must be like, given the crushed bones and mangled nerves, but I do know others are grateful for her beautiful feet, which are precious because she’s carrying the gospel wherever she goes.

“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”

~Romans 10:15

HIS purpose for your life may bring pain, but will remove stain.

HIS purpose for your life may bring pain, but will remove stain.