Last night, my buddy, Phil, came over to the house to look at a job I’m hiring him to do, and we got to talking about life happenings in the past year. I was reminded through that conversation how if I knew what all the steps were to get from the fiery trial I was facing to get to where I am today, I probably wouldn’t have properly stretched and had my endurance grown in the process. I had to take one step at a time, one day at a time in faith that the path He brought me to was the best path for me to take.
“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”
-James 1:2-4, NLT
As we navigate the seas of change, I realize how imperfect I am. I realize how susceptible I am to the lies the Deceiver presents to me that says I can’t do this…I’m not good enough…that I’m not worthy of love. But I choose to move forward one step at a time, one day at a time. And I praise God that I’m not walking this path alone.
“Everybody’s scared to death when they decide to take that step out on the water. It’ll be alright. Life is so much more than what your eyes are seeing. You will find your way If you keep believing.”
These last few months have been agonizing at times. Not just for me, but for people close to me…family and friends alike. There has been death, sickness, endings to relationships, insecurity, lapses in judgement, loss of trust, depression, financial strains, and the list goes on. It feels like every time I turn around, I’m hearing another story about someone going through a really hard time.
I often wondered why this is…why is it that so many that are close to me are dealing with so much. While I pondered these things over the past couple months, I was reminded of some things.
It started at the beginning.
I’m referring to Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve had one rule to follow: don’t touch the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. (Genesis 2:16-17). Except they couldn’t handle that. In Genesis 3, Eve listened to someone she shouldn’t have listened to and ate some of the fruit. However, before the woman-bashing starts, lets not forget the end of verse 6 which states, “Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too” [emphasis added] (Genesis 3:1-6). Way to stand up, Adam. Sheep.
So, as a result, we get fun things like pain during childbirth, working hard to live, and death (Genesis 3:16-19). Goodbye, perfect world.
Jesus said this would happen.
This one got me when I was reminded of it. I was at camp attending morning devotions, and the camper who was leading the discussion asked us why bad things happen to good people? My pastor, Joel, said that Jesus said it himself:
…everyone will hate you because you are my followers.
But the good news is the rest of that verse:
But the one who endures to the end will be saved. (Mark 13:13)
Lots of junk is going on. It hurts. I know. I’m experiencing some of it. But there are a couple things I like to remember: a) I serve a God who is bigger than all of it and b) I’m not alone in my struggles or pain. We’re all in this together.
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)
I met Joe Rubino 12 years ago at camp. I had just graduated high school, and Joe was starting into his first youth ministry. One of my friends was in his youth group, and they were preparing to run a week of junior high camp the following summer. She kept telling Joe, “You’ve got to get Jon Cole to work camp with us,” as they were looking for extra help, especially in the worship band. It was a fun experience. I found out how much I enjoyed getting to act like a 12-year-old and have a real purpose for it. 🙂 Not long, after that, other friends of mine from camp that were also in Joe’s youth group started to lure me across 2 counties into Wooster to start spending time with them. What happened after that was nothing short of amazing. Continue reading →