Steadfastness

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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

I love the book of James. I’ve spent more time in this little book than I’ve spent in many other places in Scripture, and I’ve found that further study and meditation often leads to fresh discoveries within the text. Even after years of reading these same words, I keep finding new things. The discoveries aren’t always comforting, though.

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The Test

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Each present heartache seems to be the worst.
Each test of faith feels fiercer than the last.
Unfounded fears lie shattered in the past,
Yet fear still strikes with strength as at the first.
You start to wonder if you might be cursed
To never have the faith of the steadfast.
You long for constancy but e’er contrast
Your faith with fear, fulfillment with more thirst.
Perhaps the moment’s pain does not intrude
Except to prove the possibility
Of suffering to serve a higher end.
The path of faithfulness does not preclude
The faltering and fallibility
But uses these to lead you to a friend.


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Growing

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Refining is taking place.
Desires, not weeds, just not yet in full bloom,
Push through the dry dirt only to be pruned
By the one gardener who never errs.
There is loss, but there is growth,
Strength from the stripping,
Life from death.
The breath I struggle to catch remains his,
Sufficient,
Efficient
For the work, the fruit, he desires.


Photo by Abigail Miller on Unsplash

I Do Not Want to Follow You Today

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I do not want to follow you today,
And though I know the path you set is right,
I do not want to walk the narrow way.

I struggle now to find the words to say
That, though I do not want to leave the light,
I do not want to follow you today.

I still will read the Bible, still will pray;
Yet, as I stand before the darkest night,
I do not want to walk the narrow way.

God, can I still within your purpose stay
When, with emotions filling me with fright,
I do not want to follow you today?

Storm clouds have come and turned clear skies to grey.
God, must I walk by faith and not by sight?
I do not want to walk the narrow way.

These few concerns before your throne I lay.
Lord, leave me not, though in this temp’ral plight,
I do not want to follow you today,
I do not want to walk the narrow way.


Photo by Konstantin Planinski on Unsplash

Read to Write

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Today, my message may be a bit redundant. I want to highlight a point that almost everyone I read or listen to on the subject of writing seems to say: if you want to be a writer, you need to be a reader. Among the exhortations given to aspiring writers, the call to read is one of the most consistent, and for good reason. And while I know the idea verges on the cliche, I also know it took me far too long to actually understand the importance of reading in the life of a writer.

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