Tuesday, June 25, 2013


There is nothing quite like a camping trip to test the bonds of community.  Without the comforts of running water or a soft bed, our sin nature floats closer to the surface.  It is easy to murmur or complain and to live selfishly.  The temptation to assume the worst of others rather than the best rides on the tip of the tongue.  

I just returned from a camping trip with a group of young students.  Some of them I had only just met.  Half way through the week, my regular Bible reading led me to 1 Corinthians 13.  Whew!  What a convicting chapter!  I could take just one of the many traits mentioned characterizing love and never get it right . . . such as patience.  But the Spirit of God knows just what we need for the strength to endure suffering.   

I had never slept on a cot before.  I did not know that cold air circulates underneath and for that reason, a buffer is needed.  Coming from the heat of the desert I had not brought along enough warm gear for the chilly mountain air, resulting in five nights of little sleep and miserable tossing and turning. 

But the girls in my tent were cold as well and so we got creative.  All the coats and towels my family had brought we laid out underneath us.  But there was still not enough to go around.  I heard the Spirit prompting me to give away one of the thin foam mats and a blanket I had brought for myself.  I resisted because, well, I am getting up in years and think I need certain comforts.  But love compelled me to give those items away. 

As I've been meditating on the book of 1 Peter,  I've come to realize that trials come not because we are mature, but rather because we need to grow up.  It is humbling to realize that I have not yet grown up in some basic areas, such as love.  So often I am just a "noisy gong or a clanging symbol."  (1 Cor. 13:1)  But God is getting us ready for glory, fit for heaven where there is no sin.  Sometimes it seems like I receive the same test over and over because I stubbornly refuse to respond in the correct manner as I know that I should. 

This summer, my local church has challenged all of us to memorize 1 Cor. 13 together.  I haven't started yet, but am thinking I need to do that today.  Memorizing a passage does not mean we have conquered its application, only that it is incorporated into our brains.  But this is a good start.  If it is in our minds, then our hearts can more readily know the Spirit's prompting and receive strength for living it out. 

Sometimes it is tempting to dwell in isolation where we can live only for ourselves.  But community is a good thing.  There we are sharpened, "as iron sharpens iron", to be conformed more and more into the likeness of Christ.  (Prov. 27:17)

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