5/31/2011

Trial by Faith

1Peter 1:6 So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. 7 These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.
 8 You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. 9 The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls. (NLT)

I admit, this scripture scares me a little bit. Though I want my faith to be strong and mountain-moving, I am reluctant to walk right into faith-building trials with open arms of joy! I hear about what some Christians have had to endure in this life and the pain is unfathomable to me. Would I survive the heart-rending pain of loss?

The scripture about God giving us only what we can handle is not referring to trials, necessarily. (1 Corinthians 10:13) It is referring to how we shall be tempted. I suppose you could apply it to the temptation to lose faith amidst trials and in that case God wouldn't allow so much that we wouldn't be able to see Him through the pain. But I have heard people refer to 1 Corinthians 10:13 as "God never gives us more than we can handle," meaning suffering. But I think God always gives us more than we can handle, or rather He allows it. I think He allows it on purpose to show us we can handle nothing without Him and everything with Him. Satan is after us incessantly waiting for his opening to hit us in our weakest areas. God uses the enemy's attacks as a way to make us skilled in battle. It is always more than we can handle and therefore God always gets the glory. He provides the way to bear up under temptation and He provides the comfort and strength to make it through whatever tragedies life throws at us. We could never handle it alone.

So I suppose I shouldn't be so scared of the 1 Peter 1:6 scripture. When I lose sight of reality because of the powerful illusion all around me, that's when I fear the abrupt change or the sudden shock of bad news and tragedy. LORD, help me keep my perspective and see beyond the creature comforts You've provided to the real reason I am here: to do Your will. May I embrace all of my trials according to the faith You are building in me. Even if I do receive greater honor for applying that faith, may You get it all back from me in adoration. Thank You for letting me be a part of Your bigger picture. Thank You, Jesus.


5/26/2011

An Inheritance Incorruptible - My Voice

I've taken up watching one of those singing contests on NBC. The first couple of shows were interesting because the contestants sang to the backs of the judges chairs. Being called "The Voice", the show insinuated that the performers would win based on their vocals alone. It was a nice concept and only lasted of course until the judges turned around. Then it became a show just like all the other talent contest shows. The women were given outfits to wear that left nothing to the imagination and there was no end to peacocking around the stage. So much for the "voice" part of The Voice.

It did bring up inspiring feelings about my own vocal abilities, though. I seem to respond to these silly shows with a heated opinion and the thoughts, "if I were on that show..." along with the fantasies that follow. I place myself on the big bright soapbox that is called a stage and I show people what is UP. The LORD gave me an opportunity to sing a little after indulging these diva feelings. I sang for some people looking for national anthem performers for local baseball games. I sounded so much better in the shower than I did out on the baseball field. In the privacy of a reverberating bathroom I wow'd my imaginary audience and felt super patriotic as air force jets flew over me and fireworks burst all around. Out on the real baseball field I couldn't hear myself and facing the flag made me have my back turned to onlookers in the stands. My good friend videotaped it, mostly under the guise that I wanted to show it to my family out of town. I watched it with my husband as soon as I got home and confirmed my disappointing performance. It was no Beyonce, I'll tell you that. In fact, I started the song too high and ended up sounding like a strangled animal in my opinion.

Someday I hope to sing for the LORD and only the LORD. I was born with a vocal ability and a burning desire to use it. When I have the scenarios playing in my mind about performing His music for the world, I am confronting their wows and admirations with giving glory to God. But He knows how dangerous it would be for me. Imagine if they did say what an amazing gift I had! Would I soak it up like a naive child that waits for the approval of the masses? Or would I see it for what it is: empty words designed to give another person the power to direct my fate? Do I really want to cast my pearls before a critical opinionated panel of judges who wouldn't know the Holy Spirit if He pierced them with a sword? Would I really survive in the illusion of fame and worthiness under the heat of electric lights and the invasion of cameras?

God, my Daddy. You help me see danger and protect me from it. Thank You for not allowing the wolves to get wind of my scent. I am a vulnerable creature running through a wasteland of predators if I am not with You. You keep me hidden beneath Your mighty wings until I am ready to mount up on those which You have given. Even then I know Your vast shadow will always blanket me with Your presence. Guide my steps and place me where You would have me shine for You. In Your mercy You have shown me that singing for You and only You is my calling. Everything else is chaff that will be burned off as I enter eternity. If I have wisdom then I would sing only Your praises and Your truth. That way I am auditioning to be a soloist in Heaven, where my voice will never fade. The closer I am to Your throne, the shinier this star will be. The Light of Life will blaze across a golden stage and each performance will only get better as eternity brings me closer to knowing the true purpose of my voice. To sing about You, for You, and to You my God and King forever.