|It's my birthday, and I'd like to have a word with you.|
I'm grateful that we live in a culture where thankfulness has become hip, where counting your blessings is a priority for families, where "an attitude of gratitude" is causing folks to be mindful and present to those around them. Thankfulness as a weapon against consumerism and selfishness is a good lifestyle. It's even beneficial medically -and is so much more fun than miles on treadmill!
I often find myself somewhat overwhelmed at the blessings I experience. We have so much - stuff, freedom, health, opportunity - and God is so faithful to provide all that we need. But I'm reflecting more often on another list that I've started keeping - it's not as pleasant and sometimes parts of it need to be a bit more private - but I believe it's a list that holds far greater value for God's Kingdom. I'm talking about my "Trials List". Now I'm not gonna go all "Ann Voskamp" (love you Ann without an "e") and try to reach for 1000 trials.........but I do want to ponder and redeem the hard times I've been granted in a way that gives testament to God and His work in my life.
My personal strengths and gifts lie in the areas of empathy and faith, so it's natural for me to use a common thread as the entry point for living out the gospel with another person. I'd never make it on a street corner shouting scripture or debating Biblical facts ...but I can live life with you, and I can hear your story and share mine, and try to make space for the Holy Spirit to move. A few months ago I was privileged to hear a remarkable man articulate the concept in my heart as he spoke about identifying "who you are numbered with" and then reaching into those demographic groups. What makes Steve Stern remarkable isn't his intellect or charisma or position in society. What does stand out is a humble man walking on a path that none of us would choose (his diagnosis is ALS) in a way that glorifies God and challenges those he meets. Steve is actively using his trial to share the gospel, to serve and care for people, and in his words, to bring a message of comfort to a broken and hurting world. You can hear Steve speak on this topic in this video (the talk starts at about the 50 min point): Steve Stern 1WNumbered, Westside Church, 1/9/14
So this year on my birthday I'm reflecting on the good things (blessings) and giving thanks for them, but I'm also looking more deeply at the difficult things I've endured and been shaped by. I'm not gonna run out and start a group for "left-handed, divorced, remarried, Lay's potato chip fanatics, who have X illness, and who "almost died snorkeling at 2-Step on the Big Island" (regardless of my husband's version of the story). I will however be looking for the ways I'm "numbered" with others and seek to share their journeys and burdens with them. Perhaps I can even bring a little comfort.
Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. James 1
Friends, count your trials as treasure, for they are the pathway to a submitted heart and will. The more you collect, the greater your circle of impact for the gospel will be.
Oh hey, just a little plug for a great book that just happens to be written by Steve Stern's beloved wife....you can order it here and I promise you, it will change you!
To order on Amazon: Ruthless by Bo Stern
|I get a new cell phone, and a new grand baby every two years!|