Tuesday, January 29, 2019

On Trials

"When we push the trial away, it is God we lose."

So said I in another place, reaching like all others to gain understanding in this life.

James, the venerable shepherd of Jerusalem, said memorably: "When you try to make sense of your trials, put them in the category of joy!"

He faced the human condition head on, one full of real trials. Some light, some heavy, some forever, some passing, some crushing. All cause for joy.

Nuts? No, James explained. Trials develop patience -- the ability to stay the course no matter what. And when you do that -- when you stay in and press forward, in time, in time, you will be perfect and entire, lacking nothing. Who doesn't want that?

It is the perennial question of value and delayed gratification; of short-term loss for long term gain, of quality more than ease. Of waiting, staying the course, believing.

So often we miss James' promise that difficulties are the gateway to joy because they develop in us the ability to stay the course. With that ability we can know real joy and purpose. Without it, we always quit and know little more than more trouble.

So I know again it is true. When we chafe and squirm and complain and blame and try to run we only prolong the trial. And we lose what God wants to do through the trial.

Trials teach patience, and patience makes it possible for us to 'stay in the chair' and, in time, become "perfect and entire, lacking nothing."

I'd like to be that way. Lord, help me to stay the course.

Monday Preacher Blues

A bit of free verse on the pains that go with preaching.

You say so much,
too much;
Not long-winded, 
Just too much.

Sometimes one word is too much.

"Every word", Jesus said,
"Really matters;"
An admonition
of gravity.

So I feel the weight
drag my soul
and wish them back,
all those words.

Did I really have to say all that,
get into my groove and speak my mind?

"Speak only the Word," people say.
Of course. Why not Scripture alone
on teleprompter?

No, 'preaching is the Word
expressed through personality',
said one Phillips Brooks.

I want the words back,
the laying life on the pulpit,
the groans and truth;
sincere, pure, naked.

It's Monday morning and
preachers resign.
I know why:
words weigh a ton.

Words draw you out,
flat in the street;
vulnerable, wasted,
empty, drained.

I have none left,
except to pray:
"Lord, will you release me
from this?"

Grace is real for
I hold steady 
to Him who holds me.

Joy comes in the morning.
Just not this one.