I sat on the beautiful second-story balcony with my friend K. at the bed-and-breakfast. Dusk was quickly settling on the peaceful Amish hillside. There were no lights for miles, just farmland and barns and white farmhouses in this sweet country of the Plain people.
I unzipped my Bible cover and opened the Word. There was peace in my surroundings but inwardly my heart was hurt and confused and unsettled.
K. had listened to me tearily relay that morning a struggle in my relationship. Misunderstanding. Uncertainty. Tension. (The perfectionist in me hates the messiness in human relationships...but the redeemed child of God in me reminds me that it's okay not to be perfect as long as we belong to the One who is...and that He's pretty amazing at redeeming the messiness).
I opened to Chapter 1 in James. I knew it well--all about doubt and being tossed like waves on the ocean. Yes, this one was fitting for us. Though I don't want to share details, there was some pride in my wounded heart as I chose this chapter tonight. These words were for him, not for me, I thought.
I should know by now that when we read His Word, He usually wants to talk to us...not about other people.
Instead of going right to verse 6 about faith and doubt and such, I started at the beginning. And I felt His Voice deep in my heart, comforting and instructing.
"Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." (James 1:2-4)
Count it all joy.
The testing of your faith produces steadfastness.
Let steadfastness have its full effect.
That word kept echoing in my mind and heart. I wasn't loving him steadfastly. I was loving him conditionally. I wasn't loving him as Christ loves us--constantly, unconditionally. Steadfastly. This was my call. I heard it in my heart as clearly as if He had spoken it from the heavens in the clear, starry sky tonight. Not to mull over the details of the messiness. Not to worry or to figure things out or to place blame. But to love. Always to love. As Jesus does. He says that this testing of my faith would help produce that kind of steadfast love in me. And choosing to love steadfastly would in turn "have its full effect," which may not be a change in the situation...but a change in me.
He does transform the messiness. Time and time again. So today, months later, as I find myself getting discouraged and in another trial, I remind myself to count it all joy.
And as I catch up with a few friends' blogs on this cozy Sunday afternoon, a little verse sticks out to me at the bottom of my friend Christine's post...James 1:2-4. Thank you, Lord. You always know just what I need.