Thursday, October 11, 2012

30 Days of Authenticity- Day 3: The Good and the Not-so Good

There's a huge misconception that being a child of The Most High God means that life will always be easy, comfortable, and fabulous.  Somehow, we've led the world and new Christians to think that the troubles of this world end once you dedicate your life to God.  This couldn't be any more wrong!  John 15: 18-20 tells us "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also."  This tells us that, as followers of Christ, we're pretty much guaranteed to have difficulties in life.  Even if you don't recognize that you've faced actual persecution from nonbelievers because of your relationship with God, life can still and will be hard.  That's just the way it is.  There's not always some deep theological or psychological explanation for the things we experience in life.  Sometimes it's amazing; it's all you've ever dreamed of and more.  But sometimes it's downright awful and it's all you can do to carry on. 
I've been been on top of the mountain more times than I can count.  I have so many incredible things for which I am grateful. The blessings in my life are abundant (and very, very real); it's so easy to talk about them.  When it's good, it's usually so good that you can't help but share. 

However, I can say with honesty that I've spent time in the wilderness too.  You can't have the good without some bad.  Now, depending on your perspective, bad doesn't always mean bad.  It could simply mean hard or at least not as easy as expected.  Bad, terrible, "less-than-easy," whatever your definition of the down times, we're guaranteed to face them.  Solomon beautifully articulates the ups and downs of life in Ecclesiastes 3. 
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
~Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
There are lots of wonderful things mentioned there: healing, peace, love, embracing, laughing, dancing, etc.  Nonetheless, for every good time, there's a not-so good time that is mentioned with it.  No one particularly looks forward to mourning, weeping, or all the work that's implied with words like tearing down, build, scatter, gather, mending, etc.  We may not look back and say that those are our favorite times, but each experience, good or bad, healing or pain, reaping and sowing, etc. has purpose.  
If you're going to live life authentically, you've got to be able to talk about the good, the bad, and everything in between.  You can't be real about who you are if you can't be transparent.  That's why it's so important.  When you leave out the bad or not-so good seasons, you're not telling the whole story.  Those seasons are just as important as the good.  We get some major encouragement from Romans 8:28 when we see that "all things work together for good for those who love Him." The key here is all things.  That means that God is using the moments of toil, pain, and sorrow along with the beautiful seasons to conduct a masterpiece that only He could write for you. 
 We've all got to do better when it comes to talking about the good and the bad. Life promises plenty of both. When we're only transparent about the good, we can't effectively lead others to trust God when life isn't going as planned. We can only live and lead authentically when we know how to let the Holy Spirit carry us through the less-than-desirable days. We have to be able to encourage others to do the same.
I can honestly look back at the seasons of my life and can do nothing but thank God for every one. They have all made me who I am today and who I'll be years from now.

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