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 1:3-4 NLT
The years have flown. I will be seventy next year. Some days I physically feel my age, but most days, my spirit soars past how my age declares I should feel. The prospect of something new is always on the horizon. I see the past in shades of gray—never to be experienced again nor past mistakes needing to be redone. The past, though still in memory, does not hold me in bondage. Because of Jesus, I am free. I live the present in joyful anticipation of whatever He decides will come. Years of perseverance through many trials has taught me that I lack nothing in Him. He is all I need. I have His peace as I watch my father slowly slipping away before my eyes, and yet life is often a bursting wave of surging emotion that threatens to sweep me off my feet. God has granted me the gifts of peace and feeling in the same breath. My heart swells with grief, but in the same moment, I know that all is well—with me and with Daddy.
“Endurance develops strength of character,” Paul wrote, “and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love” (Romans 4:5, NLT). Hope is a gift which rises from within the human spirit. Through Jesus, hope springs eternal. It is resilient, strong, and irrepressible. It abounds with His promise that endurance grows character, and character produces hope—not only hope of an eternal promise of life to come, but also hope for abundant life now. Disappointment cannot stand in the face of hope.
“Do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you,” the writer to the Hebrews imparted. “Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised” (Hebrews 10:35-36, NLT). I am living His will for me—walking this road with my father. It is not easy, and I can honestly say that I get weary and tired. But I know what endurance is accomplishing in me. I am changed. I am not the person I was yesterday or the day before. Life becomes more about what God wishes, and less about my own desires.
Is my heart being stretched in a hundred ways worth this journey? Absolutely. When tested I have the opportunity to grow into His vessel that lacks nothing. I feel the loss of my father, but I know I do not feel it alone. Jesus feels it with me. God has given me the Holy Spirit to comfort—to carry—to strengthen—to encourage—to fill my heart with His love. And this is where my story begins and will one day end—in His love which looks beyond the gray of my past and sees the colorful promise of a future that I cannot even imagine.
© 2017 Lynn Lacher