“Who would ever know
the greater graces of
comfort and perseverance,
mercy and forgiveness,
patience and courage,
if no shadow fell over a life?”
Ready for some hard truth? So many of these greater graces are only practiced and instilled as we experience proving in each of their contradictions. It’s the only way — a little like “every rose has its thorn”. Bu-mmer. I can almost hear our collective sigh. But hang with me, friend. The honest question then becomes, are they to be desired if the only way to attain them in some measure is through the shadows that fall across our path? Fair enough, right?
Perhaps the answer lies in this deeper truth — these graces are at the core of becoming “conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29). As His children, there is no higher good, no greater becoming. Hebrews 2:10 tells us that Jesus was perfected through suffering and “it was fitting”. Always with a view toward “the joy set before Him” (Heb. 12:2) and as He now lives to intercede for us, our Heavenly Father found it fitting that His Son know the bitter taste of suffering, grief, and temptation. “Man of sorrows”, remember?
Perhaps with continued spiritual maturity
and growth, we find our desire shifts
from primarily seeking a life of comfort
and ease at any expense to desiring
these greater graces in more abundance,
even at the cost of traveling a rugged
Through all of time, there have been men and women of faith who have shown us what that looks like (Hebrews 11). Each moment of every day, our brothers and sisters all around the world are living this out in ways we can’t even imagine unless we care to know. And, how blessed we are if someone significant in our lives models this for us up close and personal. On such a note, thank you, Dad and Mom; you have consistently been my example of life well lived through faith and trust and sacrifice. Having had a front-row view to your choices and priorities all along the way — at every turn or crossroads, every high or low, and all the everyday moments in between — they’ve reflected your steadfast commitment to “a long obedience in the same direction”*, your lives a beautiful testimony to His unchanging faithfulness and love. Just as I may never fully understand the extent of this blessing, you’ll never fully know the depth of my gratitude — there aren’t enough words. ❤
Whatever the shadow that falls, let’s remember “this is a refiner’s fire whose only purpose is to purge out our dross and to render us more fit for our heavenly walk” (The Valley of Vision). We don’t need to fear the fire. Shadows will fall. Are we learning, even if ever so slowly, the incomparable gain and yes, joy, in “trading up”; exchanging a carefree path sans the growth for a time in the refiner’s fire where we’re cleansed and molded and made new?
I’m once again reminded He has already traveled any rugged road before me. There isn’t one bump or bend that takes Him by surprise. And all along the way, among the thorns, roses are in bloom!