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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Bail water and keep paddling…(or understanding Count it all joy-again)

 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 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 (ESV)

Imagine that you’re out on the water in a lovely little row boat. Problem is, while the boat is sweet and cute and just the row boat you always wanted, dreamed about and worked hard to attain, it’s leaking and you’re taking on water fast. You’re in the middle of the lake. My Gayle and I are agreed, all we know how to do is to start bailing, and to keep on paddling.

count it all joy means NEVER quit.
if life punches a hole in my dream boat,
unless God says so,
it will not sink.
If you know anything about me, you know I've struggled with James’ admonition for a very long time. I acknowledge my blessing, that being the capacity to always see the glass half full, but “joy” is a long ride away from merely seeing the bright side. I am trying Lord and I am praying about counting it all joy; I know it will come…

With weather struggling between rain and snow and me just NOT IN THE MOOD, I was very much trying to doing what I do-honor my daily obligation, in this case, to walk the dog. Thank God for my Gayle, who walks beside me via cell phone from several states away. This morning we discussed a very human reality; there are times in every life, no matter how full/rich/joyful/satisfying, etc. where each of us feels like the “thing” life/job/relationship/home, etc. we have is not the “thing” we deserve/envisioned/desire (you may fill in the blanks any number of ways). When it is your time, there are two things you can do,

1. Give up, and let it defeat you, or
2. Count it all joy.

Matthew Henry's Commentary on James 1:2-8 helps us understand how this scripture is far more than the biblical equivalent of “put on a happy face”
We must not sink into a sad and disconsolate frame of mind, which would make us faint under our trials; but must endeavour to keep our spirits dilated and enlarged, the better to take in a true sense of our case, and with greater advantage to set ourselves to make the best of it. Philosophy may instruct men to be calm under their troubles; but Christianity teaches them to be joyful, because such exercises proceed from love…

Here is what we came to-if you’re not going to throw in the towel, after you make an honest declaration about your current state of affairs, and then you bail and paddle. Acknowledging where you are, acknowledging that “it is what it is” is not an admission of defeat, quite the opposite.  It means, “I ain’t giving up.” It means I can take whatever you give me, whatever life leaves me, and work it to Kingdom advantage. It means I accept the offering (because getting something, even crap, is better than getting nothing), and I’m about to work it. It’s about to be the centerpiece of my new masterwork, my new miracle, the realization of my God-sized dream. How? Why? Because counting it all joy means I never give up. It means that though life punches a hole in my dream boat, unless God says it’s time, my dreamboat will not sink.

So, life/ world/ circumstances, bring it on. My Gayle and I are counting it ALL joy. We bail and paddle with the best of them. When her arms get tired, she can rest because I got her back and God’s got mine. So, like Timothy, we will fight the good fight, stay the course, keep the faith. And bail. And paddle. And pray. And laugh, a lot.
On Wednesdays, I pray and and play with friends here...

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