When Pain’s Worth It {Beyond the Cross}

FOG09- Courtesey of Greg Abel Photography

“A great many times in our Christian life we will endure hard times.
Those times are always a preparation for the next thing. The unseen.”
~Kris Camealy, Holey, Wholly, Holy

She slides the charm on her necklace just like I do…when I’m tugging for more room to breathe. Her eyes focus on my left shoulder and I want to hug her for making it that far. After one last gulp she releases the confession weighing heavy on her chest and she was right…it’s a big one.

One might think it’s not a big deal and a part of me wonders if she’s hoping I will slather on the salve of complacency. But she deserves more than that. For I know one gust of life will remove it all and leave her skin cracked underneath. What I long for most is to hold her and have a good cry. Simply because I know she’ll need it later.

After asking the obvious “Are you sure you never have?” I lovingly ask her the hard question I know has been keeping her up at night.

“Are you ready for refinement–to go through something hard? Is your heart prepared enough to ask for it? Because you could, friend…you could ask Him for those growing pains…”

That’s the thing. In this upside down Kingdom of Grace, the growing love affair often hurts. Cupid’s arrow does not make your heart flutter–it penetrates leaving you forever changed. And you soon realize this lover’s road is not paved in gold. No.

You have to
cross many
lashes, thorns,
nails and hammers,
vinegar stained lips and downright bloodshed…
You have to stare death down and face the very
murder in your heart
to get wrapped
in His warm,
eternal embrace.

“This journey through Lent is a journey that doesn’t end at the cross. No!
This journey ends at the empty tomb…in the victory of grace for sinners and
redemption for those who believe.”
~Kris Camealy, Holey, Wholly, Holy

And she mentions the what ifs we all fear. The ones that affect more than ourselves and possibly include an unbearable trial–even a death. As if dealing with one death isn’t enough. Surely she can’t ask for that kind of hard journey. Can’t she just ask for your everyday, basic trial? For even those are hard to come by in her near 3 decades…

“How can we serve and love and reflect Christ
when we begin and end with ourselves?”
~Kris Camealy, Holey, Wholly, Holy

I search her green eyes and wait for the light within to calm before I whisper what she already knows. For only He does…only He…only. And I remind her what waits on the other side. How glory holds no constriction of time and what we see as important now is confined to the present…these temporal joys–they seem to pull us away from eternal glory.

Holey Wholly Holy -- Glory

We read the words of Jesus’ brother. For surely he knows what he’s talking about. And she makes note right then that it’s the most important thing he wanted his loved ones to know…for it’s the first thing he wrote in his Letter…

Dear brothers and sisters,when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
James 1:2-4

I then confess how, last Lent, I had to ask for the hard. I had to pray that prayer. And there were brief moments when I regretted it. Because. It. Hurt. This year, I didn’t ask. I was expecting a road worn down smooth from the scars only to realize those had merely scratched the surface…

“The call to refinement for the Christian is not about making us look better,
it’s about us reflecting Christ better.”
~Kris Camealy, Holey, Wholly, Holy

She starts naming the scars of trial she’s seen on me. And as she’s listing, I see it…what James was trying to share. I grab both of her hands as I proclaim it for me more than her:

It’s true! Joy can be found during faith-building. I’m living proof.

In this upside down Kingdom of Grace, the love affair often hurts. Cupid’s arrow pierces through Christ, then you, leaving you forever changed. And you soon realize this lover’s road is paved in hard-won glory.

And when you
get there,
He wraps you
in His warm,
loving embrace
adorning your garments of salvation with
an eternal robe of holy righteousness…
For beyond shame
and pride,
beyond death,
humbleness
is found
Grace
is accepted
Joy
is obtained
Glory
is revealed.

We let it sink in, praying it takes root as we stand there in the comfort of silence. Our eyes meet and we hug tight, knowing it’s only the beginning. And as I work my way home, walking around the puddles of thawing snow, I can’t help but smile as the street light’s reflection glitters my path…

Father, I’m but a shadow…but thank You…Thank You for letting me dance in Your Light…

This is a part of my Lenten series using Holey, Wholly, Holy by Kris Camealy as a guide. You may check out the entire series HERE. I’ll be back next Wednesday to finish up the series.

If you do not have this book yet, Kris is giving away FREE PDF COPIES HERE for just a few more days! Or you may purchase a kindle or hard copy (highly recommend) HERE.

How about you, friend? Have you discovered the joy found in refinement? How has your faith grown this Lenten season? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

NOTE: This story was told with permission. Her name was withheld out of love. But if you think of it, please pray for her…for her painful, refining journey has begun…

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18 thoughts on “When Pain’s Worth It {Beyond the Cross}

  1. It’s been quiet over at my place because I’ve been a little preoccupied in that refining fire but it’s pure joy to know I am walking closer to Him. Maybe even reflecting Him a little better these days. You’re right, it’s a little painful but I know I’ll count it all joy…soon. I am so grateful for Kris’s words and your direction during this season. Sending you great big hugs. I truly appreciate you both!

    • Diana, how I miss you (and think/pray for you often). I’ve wondered about the fire you’ve been in. So grateful to know He’s got you where He wants you…please feel free to let me know how I can pray more specifically! (and thank you…for sharing my heart with those you love. so blessed by you…)
      {HUGs}!!

  2. Gorgeous. The shape of your words, the cross, the journey. Thank you for writing today friend. What a delight you are. So truly. To His kingdom. For our blessing. For lasting glory reaching far past any person’s – straight to the pierced of Him.
    Happy Wednesday friend.

    • Leigh, would you believe I thought of you when I was trying so hard to format?? Your posts have such fluid movement them…thank you for your encouragement, friend. Because, truly, it’s all about Him. (my week got CrAzY, but we’ll talk soon, okay?)

  3. Yes, this deep gutteral refining. The dying of self. It’s His process for me these days. I so get this. And I’m so grateful that I do. Blessings, friend.

  4. I love this: “For I know one gust of life will remove it all and leave her skin cracked underneath.”
    It’s pure truth that life brings trials. If we wait for joy afterwards, we will miss what God is doing in our processes, in our gut-wrenching moments.
    Thank you for sharing.

    • that’s what it feels like, don’t you think, Sarah? Those gusts of life often take my breath away and threaten to dry me out…
      Love your thoughts….YES! All we have is the present. why not discover Him through it and receive His joy as a result?
      Thanks for reading my heart today, Sarah!

  5. Pingback: Good Friday's Letters - TwentyFiveSeasons | TwentyFiveSeasons

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