My thoughts this week wrapped around following Jesus, watching cancer fight against my father’s well-being, and trials of everyday life. It’s like Neapolitan ice cream where all colors stand alone but can be blended together easily. But life is not like a bowl of ice cream and our ultimate pleasure and relief doesn’t come in carton.
Our relief comes from God and it comes to us from following Jesus. In Luke 9:23, Jesus says to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me”. Such a simple and profound statement but one many fear to entertain. Fear that they will have to change and give up ‘their’ ways or become something that is stale and boring and face persecution from others for doing such a thing. As Christians, we often become the ‘stop it’ police letting unbelievers and believers know what they are doing wrong and by this we push them away from Jesus. Jesus didn’t tell Matthew to stop being the crooked tax collector but just said “follow me and be my disciple” (Matthew 9:9). Just that simple. No lecture, no scolding, just a simple sentence spoken that when taken seriously changes your life. We get so wrapped up in focusing on what ‘we’ may lose that we miss ever taken the step. Jesus knew that all the rest would fall in place. He knew that the renewing of the mind and the changing of our ways would happen and he knew the precise order in which it was to happen.
This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. – Romans 12:1-2
My father’s battle is not only making me cherish the time with him but is also focuses me in on my own feelings and relationship with God. See, it is easy now to have the understanding that my dad is at peace with God and that I am also at peace because I know that his body will be healed and he will have eternity awaiting him in the end. But he is still here and God has not taken him home yet. It will be when he does that I will step into the grieving process and it will be human nature that I will begin to question. This will be the time I will need to pray feverishly, continue studying, and seek God’s power in healing. I need to believe.
I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. – John 16:33
It all wraps up in taking heart. I fight the urge daily to understand and know the answers and I need The Word to remind me that I may never know. That trials happen and they always will. James tells us to consider it a joy that troubles come our way but we naturally don’t have that reaction. We fight against the grain and ultimately we fight against God.
Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. – James 1:2-4
One thing is for sure, that God’s love and promise for us has always been the same and will never waver but what resides in our carton is Neapolitan and will change daily as we navigate through life.