“Looks like we won’t be going to Disneyland any time soon,” my son said.
“What’s that mean?” my daughter asked as the three of us were walking along.
“What Joshua means,” I explained, “is that he and I had a bet. Whoever could lose 10 pounds in a month would have to take the other one to Disneyland on their dime.”
The trouble with this bet is that I wasn’t properly motivated. You see, I didn’t care if I lost the wager. I didn’t care if I was the one having to pay to go Disneyland – it still meant I got to go! Knowing this about myself, and not coming close to achieving my goal, I knew I needed to change the terms of the agreement – and so we won’t be going to Disneyland any time soon.
“But, Mom, I thought you bought all those books about losing weight?” My daughter’s voice had a slightly convicting tone.
“Yeah, I know,” I said, trying to understand myself, “if only I could lose weight through osmosis! If only I could read the books and have the outcome they promised and I desired! If only…” I held an imaginary book to my head and got a laugh out of the kids. But I continued on in thought.
If only the doing and being just happened through osmosis – just think how great that would be! With all the books I have on writing, I would surely be a bestselling author. Fitness and nutrition? I would be the female version of Jack LaLanne, only I would still be alive. Relationships? Look out, Dr. Phil! Decluttered and organized? Martha Stewart, you’re fired! Wealth? Tell Mr. Buffett I will get back to him with some financial tips later.
But by far the greatest number of books I own relate to my faith. I have books on knowing God better, and understanding His word, and learning to live out the commands of the Creator and how to be led by the Spirit. The list goes on and on. Some I have read cover to cover, some started but not finished, some still to be read. If only my faith would grow through osmosis. If only I could hold the book to my head and become the woman of faith I want to be. If only.
But if the only way I grew my faith were through this type of osmosis, what kind of faith would that be? If I never had to face the daily challenges of this world, how would I know how strong or weak my faith really is? If my faith is never tested, how will I know the real level of trust I have in my Lord and Savior? It isn’t enough to know the awesomeness of God by reading or through some supernatural means of osmosis – not that those aren’t wonderful ways to know God, they are, and we should continually be seeking Him in His word. But for our faith to develop God says that we need trials of many kinds to make us complete.
When we are faced with tests and trials we have a choice as to how we respond. Our response relates to our level of faith. At first it is hard. We try to come up with the promise from God that will encourage us to be strong in the midst of the trial, but the words elude us and the temptation to worry and be fearful is great. But God is patient and even though our response may be less than faith-filled, He gives us time. We go back and learn more about God. We walk a little further down the road with Him. And then, perhaps, another test will come along. This time we trust a little easier, we hang on a little longer, and we know our faith in God has grown a little more. And so it continues.
I still think osmosis would be a great thing for losing weight, and fixing my finances, and for sure writing that bestseller. But I think God knows best when it comes to perfecting our faith. Are you willing to let God do His work in you?
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4