Wednesday, December 09, 2009

A Journey

Just over fifteen years ago, we found ourselves at a dismal place in life, having been schooled into a state of mental atrophy while our souls lay in a state of spiritual death. Our government’s schools had accomplished their end in our lives. We had neither a solid foundation to build our lives upon, nor the ability to make wise decisions. Our lives revolved around self-centered, immature, and vain pursuits; depression, anger, and strife were a way of life. But in the midst of this wreckage, the Lord redeemed us and set us on a new path, one filled with direction, hope, and true joy. Step by step, with the grace of God, we began to build something completely different, lives centered on the Word of God. In retrospect, some of the steps we took were more helpful than others and continue to be to this day.

Prayer, we found, is immensely important to those who are devoid of wisdom. If we come to God with humility, asking for wisdom, he has promised to give it.[i] It can be easy, in our human way of thinking, to imagine that God somehow doesn’t see our weakness and folly and if we were to admit these to him, he would not want to help us. But the God who created us knows our thoughts; he gives grace to the humble and resists the proud. Matthew Henry wisely stated,

We should not pray so much for the removal of an affliction as for wisdom to make a right use of it. And who is there that does not want wisdom under any great trials or exercises to guide him in his judging of things, in the government of his own spirit and temper, and in the management of his affairs? To be wise in trying times is a special gift of God, and to him we must seek for it.”.[ii]

There is something wonderful that happens when we develop the habit of praying prayers of both supplication and thanksgiving. We will begin to see, with a grateful heart, the many Providences of God, past and present, in our lives and trust in him will grow.

Once we had asked God for wisdom, we had to search it out where he has placed it: in his Word. All of the wisdom that we need to govern our lives is there and we must be diligent in using the means provided for us to obtain it. In order to obey God, one must be highly educated in his Word; it was there that we found the truths that our lives had been so devoid of. Over time, as our hearts were filled with God’s wisdom, we began to see the fruit of growing maturity and faith and were no longer swayed by every little trial that came our way. We were able to take on greater, more difficult responsibilities and experience the blessings and joy that came with them. We found that there are many ways to fill one’s mind with the Word of God- reading, listening, posting passages around our home, or even copying it out, to name a few. In a time when the Scriptures are readily available, it can be easy to take them for granted; there have been many, though, who considered the Word so dear as to give their lives for it.

Another of the missing ingredients in our lives was edifying relationships. Our counselors came in many forms, from various types of media to real life relationships. In the beginning, because we didn’t have a lot of real life relationships it became very important for us to always be reading or listening to things, especially those that were beyond our current level of understanding. What this helped us to realize was that becoming educated was our own responsibility. In time, however, the Lord did send friends and mentors who encouraged, challenged, and stretched us in ways which we didn’t know it possible to stretch. This kind of relationship is not always easy, because real people can see your flaws, point them out and challenge you to overcome. It can be tempting to seek out people who make us feel good about ourselves and never challenge our sin and ignorance, but a true friend, who loves our soul, will not leave us alone in sin. Instead they will consistently direct us to the truth of scripture. As Proverbs 27:6 states,“Faithful are the wounds of a friend..”. We, however, must be willing to humbly accept these “wounds”. It takes time to build this kind of friendship, but in the long run it is the most fruitful and grows increasingly precious over time.

Looking back, we see the faithfulness of God at every step and we can be encouraged that we will continue to see it with every future step. We are content to know that this process of sanctification encompasses past, present, and future. The work of grace is but begun in this life, there is always more to be done here, and the Lord will be faithful to finish the work he has started.[iii]

[i] James 1:5

[ii] Matthew Henry’s Commentary on James 1

[iii] Philippians 1:6

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I always enjoy what you write about re-educating yourselves after being raised in the public school environment. I find myself in quite the same situation, but am coming to this new way of thinking and living in my 40s. Please write more on these issues. I also appreciate suggestions for what to read especially concerning history. Thank you!

Beth in Colorado