Count It All Joy

There are things I say I believe that are painfully hard to live.

I am firm on living a healthy lifestyle, including a mostly organic diet and weekly exercise. But I would rather eat Chicfila, french fries or nachos at every meal and call walking from the parking garage to my door a good workout.

I have a strong belief in good hair, clean nails, and organic deodorant. But I would rather wake up and not touch my red version of Albert Einstein’s locks, bite my nails to the quick and wear aluminum filled deodorant that actually works so my pits don’t need a refresher around three in the afternoon.

Yes, its painfully hard to live what I believe is the best for me to live out the purpose and destiny I am called to fulfill.

My husband and I are studying the book of James. Hear me when I tell you, as passionate as I am about what I am passionate about, the book of James is a tough pill to swallow. In fact, James is so in our face that I have secretly vowed about five times to never talk, teach, or think I know anything at all ever again.

(I think we all know this is impossible. At least for a know it all like me.)

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-3

Say what?! 

I not only do not consider “trials of many kinds” pure joy, I consider them a pure pain in the rear. And just like I did not enjoy any tests in school (unless of course, they were essays), I do not enjoy the testing of my faith either. And while we’re at it, I have always preferred sprints to marathons (just ask my ex-swim coach how horrible I was at the 500m).

Needless to say, the last four weeks have pressed me into the grace of God (mostly because I had no where else to go, except maybe jail), face down on the floor begging for help (sometimes because I have been so dang tired), then rising to do the moment in front of me trusting that His grace is sufficient for me (trusting even when I am not sure I am believing).

Just today, I drove two blocks from our home to start my work day, when I heard a loud pop and the sound of a tire flapping. Sure enough I had a flat tire. 2o minutes later, I discovered someone had planted scissors into the side of my car so that as I drove, the tire would explode. My second police report in seven days.

The first was a week ago when my work laptop was stolen from our church from a little punk kid running a sting operation with his friends in an Inphiniti on Wilshire Blvd. Less than a week before that, I was throwing up for twelve hours straight over our kitchen trash can with my husband (who had a nasty cold the week before), holding my hair, which left me so weak I couldn’t get out of bed for two days.

Prior to this, one of our greatest administrative helps picked up our t-shirts from the wash so we’d have them for the weekend. Crossing the street, a lady was not paying attention and she was hit by a car, which left her on crutches and out of the office for three weeks.

I should mention this is our outreach department’s favorite and fullest time of work all year (today my inbox was over 300) and while we are persevering, I can’t lie and say we aren’t just a bit tired. A little bit weary. Regretting that you tuned in for a read?

Here’s my point: Count it all joy…

I believe James to have written a practical truth and no matter how bad it hurts, I will continue to submit to God and His will for my life because while there are plenty of options, I am forever convinced He is the best one.

As my Pastor Holly has said, “Welcome to the front lines of battle.” We are waging a war on hell in our city and as she has also said, “The Kingdom of heaven only advances at the expense of the Kingdom of darkness.” In short, we have an enemy. And he’s mad. Mad that the Kingdom of heaven is expanding in my heart and mad that light is traveling to dark places through our team.

Well, you know what? I’m mad too. Mad that he has the nerve to think this will take me out. Mad that he thinks he can creep into our lives through subtle ways by making us tired enough to have a bad attitude or get into complaining and grumbling. God never promised any history makers comfort. But He has promised legacy, eternity, and victory in Christ.

Read James 1:2-3 again. Let perseverance FINISH ITS WORK so that we may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. These are the days integrity is built upon. How we respond to attacks (trials) of many kinds and our ability to continue on in our faith in spite of the trials leads us to maturity. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Faithfulness is a lost art in our world.

Hang in there and finish.

And I am so glad we don’t have to finish alone. I’d like to thank my friends and husband for every call, every text and every prayer today. I cannot do my life without you. Finally, here’s part of one of my many favorite texts of the day: “You making real enemies in Jesus’ name, Sis!! Way to go!”

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