Are you going through hard times? Trials and afflictions have a way of refining our character, so that Christ may shine through our lives.
Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada and here’s a hymn I would sing as a child, maybe you too.
Face to face with Christ my Savior
Face to face what will it be
When in rapture I behold him
Jesus Christ who died for me.
Face to face I shall behold Him
Far beyond the starry sky
Face to face in all His glory
I will see Him by and by.
On warm summer days like these, I think of all the times my family and I went camping on the beach near Rehoboth, Delaware. You cross the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, you do. Take Route 50 through the eastern shore. Pitch a tent at Keybox Camp just south of Bethany Beach. For us, we would camp at the beach for not just a couple of days, but for a couple of weeks and we had all sorts of things to keep us busy. My sisters and I, we’d spend all day in the ocean on our rafts, head up to the Lewes Dairy in the late afternoon for ice cream, fry soft shell crabs on the Coleman stove that night, and the next day do it all over again. My favorite part was collecting shells and stones—especially the small, perfectly round little stones washed up by the waves. The constant tossing of the water and the polishing from the sand made for the shiniest, the most beautifully smooth stones.
My sisters and I had contests to see who could collect the most flawless stones. We liked these ones because we would lay them out on the wooden picnic table, pull out our paint sets, and paint faces on all of these smooth, round little rocks. Stones that had any sharp edge were tossed aside, it was the flat ones that had been refined and polished; these were the ones that made the perfect surface for painting colorful, happy faces. That memory was so many years ago. But I’m often reminded of those smooth rocks with smiling faces whenever I read James chapter 1. It says there that the testing of our faith produces real character. My affliction with this disability and all the day-to-day irritations of it, all of it is like constant polishing, constant refining, always honing and shaping and smoothing and shining and filing off the rough edges of my character. It’s a tiresome process, but I’m convinced that God wants to paint the smile of Jesus on this stony countenance of mine. Like it says in 2 Corinthians chapter 4:
“For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:6)
Do I always smile? Well, if you looked at all the Joni and Friends newsletters, you’d say I do and, yes, you probably hear the smile in my voice, but I will be frank: there are times when the bite of my quadriplegia, coupled with pain, has me looking into the mirror in the morning with a groan. “Oh, Lord God, I don’t have the strength, please, please help me!” Yes, I’ve got a long way to go. And you do, too. But I’m willing—and I want you to join me in being willing today—to welcome those trials as friends (can you do that?) ‘cause it has everything to do with your character.
© Joni and Friends
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