I was talking to a couple of friends and we were bemoaning how there are certain struggles that routinely come up in our faith walks. We think we have overcome a bad habit or gotten into a good habit and we turn a corner and we are right back where we were. It can be so discouraging, and we wonder if we will ever make progress.
This was highlighted to me the next morning as I was headed out for the day and there was a train crossing a road near my home. Thankfully I was early for my first appointment so it was easy to wait. The train passed and I pulled up to the intersection about a block down and turned right. I realized the train I had been waiting for was crossing the road just ahead. I had to laugh. It was just what we had been talking about Friday. I thought I had made progress to just run into the same obstacle! I knew what was coming. The train passed and I drove about a half a mile and turned left.
There was the train again! Same train. Different section. Different road. As I waited for about five minutes this time, I had the realization that God isn’t upset when my spiritual life encounters an obstacle. As a matter of fact, scripture says it is these obstacles, trials, and suffering that produce endurance for our faith walk. As I learn to recognize the times that I have jumped on whatever train has come by, taking me off of the path God wants me on, God will give me the ability to get off. And maybe next time I will realize sooner and get off that train sooner, or even realize it is a train before I jump on. Every time I make the decision to not jump on that train and leave the path God has for me, I get better at it. I get better at waiting for it to pass. I get better at avoiding it. I get better at not jumping on it and heading to California!
Over time, if there is enough traffic, an overpass can be built over the tracks so there is not a slowdown or a stop for the train. (I wonder how I could work with God to build more overpasses in my life!?) I also love that it is not my ability to avoid the train that God loves. God loves me. God loves me regardless of how I handle that train.
And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. (Romans 5:3-5, NRSV)
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