Friday, September 19, 2014

Building a Testimony

One of my very best friends is a woman of 98 years.  Still sharp as a tack, we have engaging conversations.  She often asks me, "Why on earth would you want to visit an old person like me?"  This is why.  Because she challenges me in my relationship with God.  I look at her life and wonder at her strength of character. 

However, I also spend much time with young people who are still trying to find their way and establish what they believe.  And I come away with this thought:  a testimony is not gained by 'flowery beds of ease', but rather experience in life on rough terrain. 

I often counsel young people, "Accept the trial you are going through and rather than impulsively react, respond correctly.  Do the right thing, because God is giving you opportunity to build a testimony.  Twenty years from now, this difficult situation will have shaped who you are." 

Yesterday, some friends and I made an attempt at climbing a mountain.  There are two trails and not liking the one, which went straight up the hill, we sought to try the 'slightly easier' one.  Assuming we were on the right path, we took off with gusto.  But we had missed the trail head completely. 

Our 'trail' peetered out.  Yet, we were sure it must go this way, and so we stubbornly continued up without a trail.  The further we went the more precarious it became until at last we had gotten ourselves into a position of no return.  We could not go down and we could not get up.  We were a hairsbreath from calling 911 and asking for a helicopter to come rescue us.  (Instead, I texted my husband to first of all pray, and then be ready to come help us with shovel and rope.)

I was reminded of the predicaments we get ourselves into, especially when we go off the path God has for us.  We seek the goal, the same as everyone else, but we think we can arrive there our own way and stubbornly push ahead.  At last we come to a place where we have to face our mistake.

We should never have kept going up that hill.  It was terrifying and insane, complete with a scorpion crawling out of the bank at our faces.  But at the point of exasperation, we had to trust.  The only way out was to lean full force onto our arm reaching for the rock, while at the same time, straddling the crevice in a sideways motion.  It took great courage, and needless to say, bonding occurred among friends. 

The mighty right hand of the Lord lifts us up out of our predicaments.  Oh, it still is not easy, and we have to live with the consequences.  My friends and I were too emotionally fried and shaky to make it up the rest of the hill.  Instead we came down the easy trail which we found after arriving at the meadow, the trail we were supposed to have taken.  

God is so very merciful and is filled with compassion.  As we embrace difficulties and work through them our character gains depth and insight.  No one builds a great building overnight.  To build takes time, sweat, and tears.  Instead of mulling over the should haves, courage moves forward and seeks to get back on the correct path. 

Now that we are safe at home, we have a story to tell, a testimony.  And we are wiser for it. 

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