Monday, December 30, 2019

Talented or Not, Just Try

Psalm 66:8-10 "Praise our God, all peoples,
    let the sound of his praise be heard;
he has preserved our lives
    and kept our feet from slipping.
10 For you, God, tested us;
    you refined us like silver."

          Today's blog is about the importance of trying, despite what you think about yourself and how well you do.  "The main end of life is not to do but to become,” F. B. Meyer said. And for this we are being prepared every day.  The refining process may be very painful, but it will not destroy us, for the Refiner sits by the furnace tending the flame. He will not allow us to be tried beyond our endurance; it is for our good.  We may not understand why we have to endure such misery year after year. The ordeal seems endless and pointless.  God is placing us into a crucible in which we acquire patience, meekness, humility, compassion, and the other “quiet” virtues our souls naturally lack.  So don’t be afraid and don’t fret. Your present trial, as painful as it may be, has been screened through God’s wisdom and love." []

        I want to be able to say one day, as in Job 23:10,  "When he has tested me, I will come forth as gold."  The older I get, the more I see how faithful He has been in not only preserving my life but filled it with goodness, mercy, patience, and grace.  He has also surrounded me with guardian angels, with super-strength wings of speed of protection.

       I want to share a couple of examples of where I've tried, despite my obvious lack of skill and learned from it:

1]  During my 7th and 8th grade years, I played the flute in band.  My teacher said I was so uncoordinated in the beginning that I couldn't walk and chew gum at the same time.  Yet, I improved enough and qualified to get in the marching band in the 8th grade.  I was never 1st chair or very good with my flute, but I do believe it helped my lung strength and capacity at the time.
    For some reason, I don't recall, I went to band camp at Henderson University in Arkadelphia one summer.   Band camp was a learning experience for me, not so much in flute but on physical needs.  I refused to wear my braces that summer, despite all the hills and walking.  I had to try and fail, to prove to myself that I really needed braces.  I realized my need for braces, when I fell and sprained my ankle at the end of the week of camp.  For my good try effort at band camp, I won the 'best camper' trophy.  What a surprise and joyful reward.
     Aren't life lessons often learned by try and fail methods?  God is so patient with us by giving us a new chance every morning when he wakes us up to choose him to follow.  I look forward to waking up with Jesus one day and receiving my everlasting rewards.

2]  During my married years, I gradually learned about computers.  I started out with simple arcade games and advanced on.  A big part of my free time was spent on a game called Acrophobia.   The game involved 3 to 7 letters under a specific category and you have 30 seconds to type in an acronym or phrase with the given letters. The game has 10 players who vote on the best answer.
      My pastime became an obsession, one might say.  I joined a game club, called Cloud9, and soon became the captain of my team.  Being captain meant finding team players, organizing games and running a website.   Captain did not mean best player, but I tried and used other skills to help my team.
      Our hobbies can become idols or a misplaced priority.  We must use moderation in all things.  I definitely overworked my fingers and can only type with accessible modifications now.  Even though I had fun, it was a misuse of some of my time.  God wants us to have fun and live an abundant life within his preordained boundaries and him as top priority.

3]  I attended a church where music lessons were taught to anyone interested, but mainly children.  I was asked if I had any interest.  I had the desire to learn, but didn't know of anything I could play with my physical limitations.  The teacher came up with a hammer dulcimer.  I took lessons for 3-4 years and performed at recitals twice a year.  I learned so much during that season of my life: humility, perseverance, and patience.
     I certainly was never very good at playing, but just taking the chance to try blessed me and others.  Sure I messed up in my practice and live performances, but if I hadn't a least tried, I would've already failed.

       "Christians are tried and purified when God uses difficulty to burn away our self-reliance, pride, and earthly wisdom. If it seems as if God is silent during this process and He is not answering our cries for help, He may be giving us an opportunity to grow stronger in our faith.  Pain and problems can produce the shining, rock-solid character that comes from trusting God when life is hard." []

       God is shaping us everyday for his glory, through joy and pain.  "No one enjoys heartache. Yet God uses pain to mold His children. Although times of happiness are wonderful, times of suffering tend to produce more growth. Brokenness can highlight parts of us that try to act independently of God. If we have unsurrendered areas of our life, they may hinder our Father’s purposes for us."  We must try to do our best in this life, with his guiding.  When we try new things that stretch us beyond our comfort zone, you will not be the only one blessed.  Others will see your example and will be inspired, challenged and encouraged in their own walk with Jesus.

God's purpose is that we walk in intimate oneness with Him and serve effectively according to His purpose and will. To accomplish this, He has to break us of our resistance and self-reliance.