Final week of James with Marla, and also a bonus week of purge related awesomeness. Check out Marla's 31 days of purging, it'll wreck ya!
By the way, I just read this blog, and feel a little embarrassed because I say A LOT of these things on a regular basis, and probably drive everyone around me nuts. But I digress... EDIT: the link is dead, no idea what I was talking about, move on. :) But this lady has a fun blog!
I'm going to cheat a bit this week by actually being structured and following Marla's questions instead of just ranting and it not making a whole lot of sense. Go to the link at the top if you forget the questions.
1. James 5:1-6 is so hard on my heart right now. I'm not going to say I don't like it, but I honestly don't know what to do with it. We have had to make some very hard financial choices in our almost 4 years of marriage. God placed it on our hearts to be free from debt, while equally placing it on our hearts to give until it hurts. We have lived against the cultural mores of wealth and comfort in so many ways. We give water buffalo as Christmas presents for goodness sakes! But we are still better off than 99% of the world population. And every choice we make affects another life, even if the life is an unseen face half-way around the world. I am honestly paralyzed. God has graciously worked in me a givers heart, through the constant tenderizing of my husband giving our lives away, but I feel like it's never enough. There is always more I can do. There is always more I can give. There will always be poor, orphans, widows, broken people in every corner of my life and I will NEVER be sufficient. What good does buying fair trade coffee do in light of tens of thousands of people dying from famine? What is the point?! Maybe I just haven't moved past the lamenting part of this. Thankfully I have a God who is bigger than I could ever comprehend, and when I asked him to break my heart, he did. I just don't know what to do out of this brokenness.
2. Patience in suffering? I would love to hear what someone else has to say about this. Actually, no, I wouldn't because in the last 2 months I have probably heard it at least once from some well meaning person. Here's the thing, suffering doesn't come in just one form, and it often comes all at once in all it's hydra-like glory. Is waiting for ANY information about your soon (hopefully) to be adopted child suffering? In a sense yes. Is finding that you have no time to spend with your spouse because God has called you to a ministry that requires a lot of time suffering? It can be. Is relationships that you thought were solid (even ones you thought were growing into true friendship) getting unstable seemingly all because of your lack suffering? For sure it can feel like the worst kind of heartache. Is your co-workers attacking you in stupid petty ways suffering? Yeah, especially when it feels like sadistic scientists just testing the rat in a maze to see when he will just give up and die. Is people you don't have time to invest your heart in asking you for help suffering? Don't have an answer for that. I can say this though, when you are praying for patience in suffering, and "life" seems to pile on the heaps of chaos, those prayers become much more desperate. The refining fires of faith cause this earthen vessel to make a whole lot of noise (think random kid screaming for no reason) and lash out in crazy spastic ways (think Daffy Duck spaz out.) Gentle and quiet spirit, hmmmm.
The prayer of faith section gets my goat too. I grew up in a church where people prayed for healing a lot more often then they saw a doctor. I now go to a church where it seems like there is maybe more MD trust than I AM trust. And before you think I'm condemning the church that I call home, I'm pointing the finger right back at myself for all too often seeking medical advice before praying for healing. Now is the church that I grew up in right? I don't know. There were times where it seemed imprudent to have a sick kid (actively throwing up) in church so that people could lay hands on said kid and pray for healing. But there was also a man who had an imminently terminal diagnosis from a brain tumor that disappeared days after people prayed for him. If we are suffering we should pray. If we are cheerful, we should sing praise. And if we are sick we should have the elders pray for us. And the tie in with sin is just down-right confusing, and could easily cause people to think like Job's friends.
Brother James, why did you have to end your letter on such rocky ground for my heart? God, why did you see fit to include this as part of your words of correction, love, and encouragement? Why is my heart so wrecked by so many nuances in one little chapter of the Bible? Oh right, I am not my own, I was bought with a price. That price requires me to DO justice, to LOVE mercy, and to WALK humbly with my God.