Sorry for the double post today, but I just couldn't do it in one... My 'workout' for these last two weeks has been a brutal one, but only in ways that I can see God working some immediate positive changes in my life. Bear with me... it's about to get deep. "Good does not equal easy", as Beth Moore would say definitely applies here. Patience. My study on the Fruit of the Spirit landed me on patience, and going in I would say I was not looking forward to it... I was always told not to ask for patience!
During the course of the week, Trace and I entered into a conversation where I voiced that it frustrates me that the place where I act the ugliest is home. Around the people I love most, cherish, and care for is also the place I spend the most time and in turn is where some serious U-G-L-Y can bubble up to the surface. It actually makes sense because home is where we spend the majority of our days. But that doesn't make it any less unsettling. Looking back on my day I am deeply saddened by the moments I reflect upon that are less than Jesus-like, and I hate that my family sees me at my darkest.
The final point in the lesson on patience was that the practice of patience often helps complete something lacking in us. I didn't like this point... could it be that the purpose is just as much about me as it is being patient with them? Certainly not! Beth used the example that we often say 'But they bring out the worst in me!' as an excuse to why we can't be patient with someone, and this is where the lesson on patience came full-circle for me: God is using the people around me to bring about the exact change he is desiring in my life. Not that I am justifying an ugly response on my part (there is no excuse for that!), but perhaps those with whom I am asked to be patient with are supposed to bubble up to the surface the exact ugly thing that God wants me to examine and eliminate. I began thinking about the analogy of the refiner's fire: Gold in its natural state is brought under some high heat, at which point the impurities bubble up to the top and the refiner then scrapes them away leaving behind pure gold. And that, my sweet friends, is exactly where I want to be~ Pure and Spotless before God. And painful though it may be, I'm willing to endure some extreme heat and uncomfortable cutting away to remove the ugly.
I also thought back to that conversation with Trace and thanked God that there is so much security here in my home. I am thankful that my family loves me and has to is willing to put up with me while I'm being refined. Colossians 3:12-13 and Ephesians 4:12 (NIV) use the term 'bearing with one another' in context with being patient, and the Greek word anecho used both times means 'to put up with'. I can see a great correlation to this within the home as well~ I'm much more likely to put up with (and they with me!) in the context of my own home. So God is strategically using those closest to me to test and practice the work of the Holy Spirit in my life! Amen!