After many months of non-posting, I think it's time that I return to this old blog and give it another run. I was pretty burned out on blogging, so I decided to step away from it for a while. I think six months is a good break. I think I'm ready to write on a somewhat regular basis again. At least I left the blog on a pretty good post - a little artsy, kind of feel goody, and sort of timeless. I like it!
The past six months has been a lot. It's been the old job, but done in new ways. It's been hearing the same story through different people, but never told the same way. It's been gaining relationships and losing relationships. It's been sacrifice and suffering, but it's been loyalty and joy. It's been obligation and duty, but it's also care and concern and love. It's been mistakes. It's been good choices.
And after all that's happened in what I made it sound like a lifetime (believe me, I understand that I have no idea what a lifetime feels like), I've found myself pretty much in the exact same place I was a year ago. Some people would find that depressing, lame, emo-sounding, or just plain sad. But it doesn't feel anywhere near the same as last year, and that is what makes it not those things (depressing, lame, etc.).
What makes it feel different? Well, there's always that maturity factor that makes you feel a tad more grown-up with each passing year (yes, even I mature some). And the one thing that probably has matured me the most is God's ongoing lesson to me of suffering. I've been into the concept of suffering for God lately, and this idea that Christians strive to suffer in this world now to gain eternal joy with God in heaven later has become a driving force in my life...sometimes the only driving force in my life.
But what does that mean "to suffer"? I won't go a lot into all that, but I will say this: A part of suffering is accepting what God has given or taken away in our lives no matter what circumstance it brings. It may be in "our favor," so to speak, but it may be not. But it is always in God's favor, and the more we accept the way God has guided our lives, the more we find the joy in Him and not in our flesh or in this world. It also brings about more faith, trust, and courage to lead a more God-centered life.
Of course, this isn't as easy as it sounds. As much as I can say all these right things, it is a completely different story to live it out. I've struggled with this concept from the first day I've really embraced it, I still struggle, and that is all part of the suffering Christians go through in the name of Jesus. He never said the way to the Father was easy. Actually, He makes it pretty clear that it's the hardest thing to do...the most impossible! That is where grace truly shines. We must always remember that it is always God and His good grace and forgiveness that brings us to salvation and to heaven, and I must always be constantly reminded of that when I tell people of this suffering I go through. I will always try to live a life that is totally pleasing to God. I might succeed sometimes, but I will certainly fail most of the time. It's the Spirit that leads me down the right path and God's grace that pulls me back from the wrong paths.
1 Peter 4:12-13
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.
Also Jas. 5:10-11; 1 Pet. 2:20-21; 3:17