Saturday, July 10, 2010

Polka Dots

Several years ago, I was helping with a Bible study on I Peter. I will never forget my study of I Peter chapter 1.

3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, 5who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Little did I know ten years ago as I taught about I Peter, God was preparing my heart for “such a time as this!” Beth Moore explained verse six in this way: We all have different trials. The original word for “various” trials is “poikilos” - which means “many kinds or many colors!” It is the Greek word from which we derive our word “polka dot”. You know how polka dots come in all shapes and sizes. That is how trials come. They are different for every person. They are various. They come in small, large, blue, black, and even red! Poikilos Trials.

Polka dotted trials.

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of various (polka dotted) trials. These trials (of all shapes and sizes) have come so that my faith, which is worth more than gold, may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed! Through these polka dotted trials, I am receiving the goal of my faith!!!

Would you mind if I just shared some of the huge polka dots from this year?

July 2009: James tells me that he has been having an affair.
July 2009: I move home with my parents.
July 2009: James loses job. I quit mine. Income stops. All parents help provide.
December 2009: Dad diagnosed with multiple myeloma (cancer of bone marrow).
January 2010: We sell my dream home in Texas.
January 2010: Make cross-country move to Florida.
February 2010: Dad undergoes bone marrow transplant.
April 2010: Austin and I move back in with James in a new city.
June 2010: Bone marrow transplant results do not show any improvement.
July 2010: Andrew brain scan – shows malformation.

In the midst of all the huge variety of trials of 2010 have also come all the little everyday trials… the trials of being a mom, being a PhD student, being a friend, being a daughter, paying bills… you get the drift.

I was once taught that each of our trials prepares us to help someone else down the road when they face the same kind of trial. I have always tried to be as honest as possible about my trials – hoping that I Peter 7 would prove true – that my faith would be proved genuine and that others would come to praise and glorify Jesus Christ!

When I found out about my husband’s infidelity, I immediately knew that no matter how things worked out in the end, this was now a part of my ministry. (A ministry I never wanted, and NEVER would have dreamed of… but as a result of my own life, would allow me to hopefully minister to other women in the same horrible situation.)

Then, when we found out about Dad’s cancer, I thought… “Okay, God is now preparing me to help minister to those directly affected by cancer.” This is now part of my ministry.

Did you know that this same word: this polka dottedness is also used to describe God’s grace? I didn’t! But I Peter 4 tells us that God’s grace comes in “various” (i.e. polka dotted) forms. It makes complete sense that God’s grace is various to meet the specific needs of the situation. I Peter 4:10 tells believers that we should use whatever gift (and I believe circumstance) that God has given us in order to serve others, “faithfully administering God’s grace in all it’s various POLKA DOTTED forms!”

So, this week, when we found out that Andrew would need to visit a neurosurgeon, I had a long talk with God. “Lord, you do realize that I am not trying to experience every single polka dotted aspect of your grace, right? My goal is not to have every single life experience so that I can affectively minister to all people in all situations, right? Isn’t it enough that adultery, cross country moves, job loss, and cancer were all added this year? Do we really need to add another color to the polka dottedness of my year?”

And today, through a series of events, emails, lessons on tape, and conversations, I am reminded of the purpose of every single trial – no matter what shape or size. The trial has only two purposes: 1) to show the genuine-ness of my faith! And 2) to bring praise, glory, and honor to Jesus Christ.

If you were to ever ask me the deepest longings of my heart, I hope that I would answer truthfully. In the purest places (the quietest places of my soul) I want to live this life, this relationship with Christ that I confess, in the most intimate way and I want him to be glorified! I want him to receive all praise, glory, and honor…

To be continued.

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