I know that I'm going through tests to strengthen my faith and my walk with Christ. It doesn't mean that the tests are easy, and that I pass with flying colors. On the contrary, outside of the Lord's grace, I fail the tests every single time.
What are the tests? Well, even though they come in various forms, it all has to do with my speech. Remember Duct-Taped Mouth? Even if you don't, I do, because I need a handy roll of duct tape every day for my mouth!
As I moped around in bed this morning, musing on my sad little self, God provoked me to look in His Word (for other reasons, I was being stubbornly self-piteous still). I ran across Hebrews 12:1, 2 which say: "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God."
Oh, don't I feel awful now. I am feeling sorry for myself because I sin with my speech, and I see where Christ despised that shame caused by my sin(s), and died for me regardless. He saw the joy where one day I would call out to Him to save me, cleanse me, and set me on His path. He cared more for that everlasting joy than instant gratification. He didn't mope, He didn't feel sorry for Himself, He didn't complain. He didn't lay in bed for hours trying to figure out what to do to fix things. He patiently endured the cross. For me.
I feel about as small as a person can feel right now. I also feel relieved to be reminded that
a) It was taken care of on the cross,
b) I have a mighty advocate, Christ Jesus,
c) and I need to lay aside every weight and patiently run the race being set before me.
I know that I cannot do so of my own strength. I know I must rely upon the strength, character, and grace of Jesus Christ. Remembering those things definitely relieve my heart.
However, God was not through in humbling me. You see, there is a pastor in Iran who is suffering for righteousness' sake. He is being persecuted for what He has said, and it isn't gossip. It isn't backbiting. It isn't tale-bearing. It isn't because of having loose lips. He has said he is a Christian, will not deny his Lord, and because he has said as such (and lived as such), he is now imprisoned. He very well may die for His around-the-world-heard faith.
I felt ashamed of myself even more. This man is about 32 years old, is married with two children, pastoring folks in a place that is much more difficult to share one's faith in Jesus Christ than here in my sleepy little town. Oh, and my sleepy little town has many "Christian" churches.
This man may be going Home to our shared Saviour. I'm worried about being un-disciplined in my speech. I wonder what concerns cross his mind?
I see his picture on ACLJ, who are trying feverishly to defend him. They have set up a petition on his behalf. If you haven't done so already, I would HIGHLY recommend you, as a Christian, sign it.
His picture, though, pricked my heart. I don't see fear in his face. I see peace. When I look at my face, do I see peace? No. I see a heart discontent, confused, and worried about people's opinions of me, worried about the truly small struggles I'm enduring (though they do matter), and the downright selfishness of Renee.
I am not seeing a heart content with where the Lord has me. I do not see peace, remembering all is well for eternity between my God and me, thanks to Jesus Christ. I do not see a heart willing to endure trials to be perfected for His sake.
I want that heart to change. I do not want a selfish heart. I do not want to continue in these wicked games of the mind that my flesh, Satan, and the world like to play. I want to walk circumspectly, always on guard, and with a heart truly loving God as I should. I want to lay aside those weights and sins that so easily beset me, and patiently run the race set before me.