When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives my brothers, don’t resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends! Realise that they come to test your faith and to produce in you the quality of endurance. But let the process go on until that endurance is fully developed, and you will find you have become men of mature character with the right sort of independence. James 1:2-4 (J. B. Phillips)
This right sort of independence is freedom from untruth. Freedom from fear, anxiety, worry. These trials and temptations are to be welcomed into our lives time and time again so that we can once again experience God’s love and power and sufficiency.
Tiptoeing around the stagnant waters of a safe life is continuing in slavery, the bondage of the lie that it is up to me and my strength, my wit and my charm. And might as well play it safe. These are certainly not the still waters where He promises to lead me. Rather it is my little roily self breaking away from the Good Shepherd to find my very own maybe manageable mud puddle.
I first memorized James in Barrio Nuestra Esfuerza, San Jose de Ocoa, Republica Dominicana. Ironically. And life there was all about endurance. The hitch up your britches and quit cha bellyachin’ lots of people have it a lot worse sort of endurance. Not so much The consider it pure joy sort of endurance that James is talking about.
I always thought that endurance meant tenacity, doggedness, grit sorts of things. But Merriam-Webster’s first alphabetical order synonym is abidance. Which I didn’t even know was a word. Abide in Me.
And I just about let the Our Strength sort of endurance ruin my trip to New York City. I was wound up pretty tight. Maybe not so much fun to be around. But that ol’ Uncle Jim kept me straight. And as we trundled pretty much all of his earthly possessions including two canes and a slightly broken walker and a bag of Depends through crowded full of late flights and weary attendant airports he kept marveling, “God is so good to me,” each time as if it were a brand new discovery.
A discovery of a new country, a new vista, a new way of seeing life. Perfect and complete. Lacking in nothing. Because He and only He is sufficient.