Welcome Them as Friends

sunrise over quiver lake

by Nancy Patten

Dad often used J.B.Phillip’s New Testament translation when he taught and preached. It seems that this passage from James 1 well describes challenging times and how we should respond to them:

“When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives, my brothers, don’t resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends! Realize that they come to test your faith and to produce in you the quality of endurance.

“But let the process go on until that endurance is fully developed, and you will find you have become men of mature character with the right sort of independence.

“And if, in the process, any of you does not know how to meet any particular problem he has only to ask God— who gives generously to all men without making them feel foolish or guilty— and he may be quite sure that the necessary wisdom will be given him.

“But he must ask in sincere faith without secret doubts as to whether he really wants God’s help or not. The man who trusts God, but with inward reservations, is like a wave of the sea, carried forward by the wind one moment, and drawn back the next. That sort of man cannot hope to receive anything from the Lord, and the life of a man of divided loyalty will reveal instability at every turn.” ~ James 21:2-8

This is a long passage from God’s Word that expresses what God has been walking with me in over this last year. “Trials and temptations”….”friends” that have increased my faith and trust in my heavenly Father and King.

What a mighty God we serve! When we receive these things as “friends,” God is able to work in our lives to hone and shape us into vessels He can pour Himself through to the hurting and fearful people all around us.

We just celebrated the 50th year of God’s ministry here at Okontoe—all of which I have been a part of. Fifty years of Him teaching me how to yield and surrender to His ways in my life.

“Surrender”—that key word. Surrendering every part of my being to Him and to His often hard-to-understand ways in my life. Surrendering every part of my body, soul and spirit to His presence. His Holy Spirit living in me since I received Him as my Lord and Savior as a child.

It is in total and complete surrender to Him that He heals, delivers, renews, restores and completes us in Him.

The journey each of us walks with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is a journey filled with many blessings and many opportunities for us to trust Him and allow Him to increase our faith as we yield to His ways in us. Many times these ways that are a mystery to us…often challenging and difficult times. Our “friends” if we receive them from His hands of love without resenting or resisting them.

This past year the Lord has walked with me through “dark days” of unexplained sickness: 24 days in the hospital (20 on IV antibiotics), many tests that left doctors wondering, and two surgeries, the last which brought me out of the sickness.

An abscess the size of a small orange was finally discovered in my ovary. It was “glued” to the outside of my colon, making it appear that the whole issue was with my colon.

But God gave wisdom to the two surgeons and the “unexplained” was brought to the light.

I have been gaining new strength daily as I continue to surrender to the Lord. I know the lesson He has been teaching me is “releasing,” “trusting” and then “resting” in Him.

As I look back on this season of opportunities to trust Him more completely, I praise Him for His “mysterious ways.” It is often in the times of the “dark night of the soul” that He shows Himself to be all that we need. “He is always enough,” though we don’t see clearly at all because of the darkness.

May we always “trust in the Lord with all our heart, and not lean on our own understanding; and may we acknowledge Him in all our ways.” Truly then, “He will direct our paths.”

Elisabeth Elliot, in her book Keep a Quiet Heart wrote this short poem as a young woman:

“Lord, give me a quiet heart 
That does not ask to understand, 
But confident steps forward in 
The darkness guided by Thy hand.”

May God be magnified in each of our lives as we surrender to Him and to His ways we often don’t understand.

He is worthy of our trust and praise. Glory to His holy Name forever and forever!

(“Sunrise over Quiver Lake” photo courtesy of Sharon Brodin)

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