Testing

I.
I cannot understand.
Perhaps
that is part of
the point.
Embrace the unknown.

II.
How has it come to this?
When I started, things seemed
simpler.
Now,
nothing seems sure.

III.
I cannot escape.
I cannot escape.
I cannot escape.
I cannot escape.
I cannot escape.

IV.
This is beyond my control.
I have two choices:
cling more tightly
or release my grip.
Both threaten to break me.


Photo by Matt Benson on Unsplash

Is the LORD Enough for Me?

Is the LORD enough for me?

I don’t mean to suggest that God might fail to provide for his people, that he may somehow lack the power of sufficiency to be for us all we need. He possesses all power and glory, lacking nothing. Objectively, he is enough for us. I’m asking instead whether I recognize his sufficiency and rest in that truth. And the answer, sadly, is that I often don’t.

I’m reading Deuteronomy, and I found myself challenged by a thought I had when reading through chapter ten. After some description of Israel’s journey, Moses writes,

At that time the LORD set apart the tribe of Levi to carry the ark of the covenant of the LORD to stand before the LORD to minister to him and to bless in his name, to this day. Therefore Levi has no portion or inheritance with his brothers. The LORD is his inheritance, as the LORD your God said to him.

Deuteronomy 10:8-9

The tribe of Levi was given a special role, a particular ministry. God provided for them too, but he did so in a different way than he provided for the other tribes. He was Levi’s inheritance.

I realized as I read that I would have likely felt a bit discontent with my lot if I was a Levite. Instead of considering what might be meant by “The LORD is his inheritance,” my mind fixated on “Therefore Levi has no portion or inheritance with his brothers.” I focused more on what would be withheld than on what would be given, more on the difference in provision than in the provision itself. I read the words “The LORD is his inheritance” and thought, “Would that be enough for me?”

One great benefit of this year has been the shaking of every shakeable foundation. For so many of us, our sources of comfort have been exposed and lost, some for a time and some forever. What once kept us content and happy can do so no longer. And as we panic at the loss of security, we face afresh the question I returned to in my devotional time: Is the LORD enough for me?

I confess that I don’t trust him like I should. I don’t rest in him like I could. I look more to what he’s withheld or taken than to what he’s given. I cling to fleeting things in the face of the eternal. But he gives more grace, allowing further setbacks, further confusions, further losses. And with each new challenge, I’m given the opportunity to love him, trust him, wait for him, hope in him, rest in him, and live for him. He tests my faith that I might grow, shattering all insufficient idols out of love. I’m tired and I’m torn, but I’m thankful, and I pray that I’ll pass the test, that faithfulness will be my response no matter the trial. He is enough. Let me learn to trust him.


Photo by Jacopo Fedi on Unsplash

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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At the End

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How many little moments will we find
Were not without significance at all
But were the subtle graces of a kind
Untarnished by the twistings of the fall?
How many hours of testing will reveal
Themselves to be the reasons for our joys?
How many wounds will show they served to heal?
How many pains upset the serpent’s ploys?
How many seasons thought to have no end
Did end one day with mercy fresh and new?
How many things seemed only to offend
But deepened both my love and faith in you?
How often is there more than eyes can see?
How little do we understand of thee.


Photo by Alexander Slash on Unsplash

The Character of Contentment

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To be where one is present with no thought
For how one might escape the present state.
To hold that one is held when one feels caught.
To feel the urge to run yet still to wait.
To know that his provision is enough,
His grace sufficient for the task at hand.
To recognize the road indeed is rough
And follow still with faith in his command.
To seek his reign and righteousness above
The chasing of all momentary needs.
To trust that ev’ry test is ruled by love.
In darkest valleys, still the Shepherd leads.
From worry and comparison refrain;
His sov’reignty and purposes remain.


Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Its Full Effect

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O clarifying lack of clarity,
O beauty of this brief bewilderment,
O need that drives me to the firmament,
Grow faith in unfamiliarity.
Let suff’ring sear my sin but not my soul,
The stone-turned-flesh be softened by the flame
And purified of all not for the name,
That what is partial now would be made whole.
Endurance marks the path to character,
And character to unashamèd hope,
Sure of the unseen God by his seen grace.
We know in part, see but a car’cature
Till faith’s perspective (holy periscope)
Becomes our sight and we see face to face.


Photo by Zoltan Tasi on Unsplash

Thanks to Milly for her feedback and suggestions during the writing of this poem.