The word haunted me worse than a recurring nightmare. And no matter how I tried to look at it, I knew…it wasn’t describing me. Yet it needs to for it’s how He wants me:
Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
This I already knew, but the self-reflection portion of my Lenten journey revealed how incomplete I really am. And it scared me big time because I’ve read the verses preceding this many, many times. And let’s face it — I didn’t want to go through more hard times. I don’t want to test my perseverance. My faith muscles are still sore from the last one…
Falling to my knees between the chair and ottoman, I rocked back and forth as I made my plea known: God, please, this can’t be it. You’re trying to show me something else, aren’t You? I know I’m not complete and I’m willing to work on it, but Father, do You really think I’m ready for another trial? Is there another way? What am I missing here? Please…Help me see…show me…I’m listening.
Would you believe I witnessed the power of the Holy Spirit right then and there as I saw the next verse unfold.
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.
There’s no other way to describe it but a miracle. Without the Holy Spirit showing me, I would have missed it, I’m certain, because I’ve done many James Bible studies, and I never got it…until the Spirit knew I was ready to receive it.
Friends, for the last 30+ years, I’ve been praying through trials the wrong way.
My prayers have been far from complete.
It was as if I could see the transcripts of my prayers through every significant trial I’ve endured. And I saw it in black and white. Wow…I never asked…
- I always prayed for a way out instead of asking for His rest to get me through.
- I always asked for healing instead of asking for the Healer.
- I always wanted to know why, how, when and never once asked for the wisdom to see beyond them…to just see Him more clearly.
Sure I would ask for wisdom when life decisions were needing to be made. Financial choices, job changes, moving options. I’m smart enough to know where to go for those answers. I’d even asked to know Him more when life was slow and easy.
The best description of wisdom I’ve heard is simply “Intimate Life-Knowledge.” And I can’t help but think…He is the Bread of Life. He’s the reason I have life. So how could I go wrong if I simply asked to know Him more intimately?
But when hard times were slapping me square on the face, I would ask for the escape route instead of the know-how of overcoming them.
Never once did I get to the root of the problem…which made me incomplete and always in need of another try…via trial.
WHY?!? How could I have missed this?!?
Easy…I don’t deserve this bigger picture understanding. So I wasn’t expecting a dirty sinner like me to be given the kind of gift worthy of King Solomon. Why would I ask for that?
That’s where grace comes in.
With one little phrase in the verse, given just to me. Friends, look at it again and say it out loud with me:
God gives generously to all without finding fault…
How soon I forget…
- I’m not trying to earn anything–He gives this stuff away for free.
- I can’t pay Him back for saving my life, but I can give the rest of it to Him.
- I don’t need healing, I need the Healer.
- I don’t need Easy Street, I need His rest and joy to fall upon me.
- I don’t need a way out — HE’S my escape plan — I need Him.
And right there, between the cushions, I asked Him to help me. And I boldly asked for it…for intimate life-knowledge of Him…
How about you, friend? Have you asked for life-knowledge? Not just know-how, but for a greater understanding of Him? I’d love to hear.
Would you mind if I keep sharing what I learned while going through James? I’m feeling like He wants me to share how my prayer life has changed…but first, we need to talk about the “But” that proceeds these verses.
Thanks for sharing your time with me.
NOTE: After I went through this, I discovered this Bible Study by Pastor Mark Hall of Casting Crowns which confirmed what my heart felt. It’s worth 8 minutes, friend. I implore you to listen as he also talks about what I plan on sharing next…