Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Test of Spirit

All these little annoyances that come into our lives are not tests of faith, but that doesn't mean there's nothing to them. At the end of a day like the one I described yesterday, it doesn't much matter what I did with the baby bumblebee; it wasn't a test of faith.

But it matters, I think, that I laughed.

See, not every little thing that happens is a test of faith, but quite often, days like this day are tests of spirit.

At the end of a day like this day, can I laugh when one more little thing comes up? At the end of a day like this one, can I feel something holy about connecting with God? Can I connect with God at all? At the end of a day like this day, can I bring myself to worship? If I turn on a playlist of praise right now, will I be encouraged or annoyed?

That is the question of a day like this one.

We need look no further than the book of Job to figure that out. Job was a guy who had a lot of these kinds of days. And often, when we read the book of Job, we find ourselves wondering just how much he was willing to put up with. We want to know how far he can be pushed. We read the devil's temptations, and we can't help but ask the same questions: just what do you have to do to this guy to get him to give up?

But Job's story was never about giving up. Not. once. There is no narrative in God's story for "quit;" that's not what it was about. Job's story was about spirit. How far can you push Job before Job is not Job any more?

At what point does Job stop praying? At what point does he stop trusting? At what point does Job lose perspective on his life, his heart, his God? At what point does Job look into a shard of broken mirror and no longer recognize the man looking back at him?

At what point do I?

Count it all joy, the Bible tells us. Count it all joy when you are tested. And we wonder how that could ever be possible.

At the end of a day like this one, I know. It is joy because it shows me plain and clear where I'm at, and if that's anywhere near where I'd hope I would be, it's on my knees. It's joy because that moment when I'm just about to lose all perspective is the same moment when I see most clearly. It's joy because just as I'm about to throw my hands in the air and ask God why things have to be this way, I realize that my first instinct is still to run to God. Even if I'm indignant, at least I'm here - asking Him what's up. Maybe my faith is not as shaken as it seems.

Maybe there's something to this spirit that hasn't given in yet.

And in that moment, man. I don't know. I don't know what day could be better than this one. The world is falling down around me in a million little ways, but somehow, I'm still standing. Somehow, I'm still trusting. Somehow, I'm still seeking, and my gut reaction to whatever doesn't seem to be working for me is to turn to the One who is working all things for good. That's got to be a good moment, doesn't it? That's got to be a good day.

So at the end of a day filled with minor irritations, common annoyances, and a thousand distractions, I shake my head and smile. I laugh a little bit. I wash my hands, wipe my face, and pray, knowing that God is who He says He is, and I'm okay, too.

And I thank God...for days like this one.

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