Do you often find yourself gazing into the hopes and dreams of tomorrow? Possibly dreaming of a day that offers rescue from the restraints of today? When I was in elementary school I remember a running pattern that our coaches used to make us run. There was a nice piece of the run which twisted around the building and out of the coach’s line of sight (you probably know where this is going). We creatively established our own shortcut which bypassed a segment of the run.
It felt irresistible as we gazed across the school grounds toward that place well ahead of our current spot. In a moment’s time we could bypass the pain and spent energy that it would cost to travel around the loop. Instead, we could immediately arrive at that spot across the grounds. We were little geniuses (yes, and cheaters too).
The desire for a shortcut which rescues us out of of current struggles and into a day when those struggles have been resolved is normal. It would seem a bit masochistic to derive great joy amidst the struggle, right?
Perspective has the power to change everything. Allow me to tweak on our perspective and possibly redirect our infatuation with tomorrow. If you have placed your faith in Jesus Christ then you have realized some new joys. As followers of Jesus we now value growth. Spiritual growth not only brings us immediate joy, but it also pays multiplying dividends of joy for years to come.
Have you found yourself in a situation where you had little appreciation for a work of art until you were able to peer behind the curtain and see the stages and intention with which it was created? The way you look at a piece of wood furniture will change after you have attempted to build such a piece. The way you appreciate a painting will change if you have ever tried to paint one yourself (the examples are endless). The process of creation and formation are the moments when beauty is really put together one tiny step at a time.
God is constantly creating beauty in His children. Our minds are easily distracted by a shortcut out of struggle, but a shortcut out of struggle would necessarily remove the joys of gospel transformation. Transformation is the work of an artist between one stage and the next. God is transforming us and there are no destinations outside of the day when His work of redemption is consummated in His ultimate return.
Today, find peace in God’s hands of gospel transformation. Walk confidently in the joys of being transformed by the Father’s hands each and every day. Maybe this brings a renewed understanding to James’ words in the first chapter of his letter. ‘Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing (James 1:2-4, ESV).’
Questions: Have there been moments in your life when you realized the joys of being transformed while still being amidst the toils of struggle?
Matt Powell serves as teaching pastor at Crossings Community Church, a body of believers whose mission is to engage, equip, and empower homes for gospel transformation in Katy, TX.