Straining seems to be a good word for my life as a Christian. One day I am being stretched as thin as possible, in every area of life. I am pulled in the direction of this world, but feel I need to be going the opposite way.
Some days I see where I need to be and do everything I can to get there. It looks messy and appears I don’t know what I am doing. The secret is I don’t know, but I am friends with the One who does. I have to urge myself to stick with Jesus even when things are scary and the problems I imagined are real and staring me in the face.
Then there are months, and sometimes years, where straining feels so painful. If there is an unpleasing habit or attitude in me, God allows it to be filtered out of me. Just like in the kitchen when I separate cooked noodles from boiling water, God uses my circumstances to prepare me for the time I am the right temperature and consistency. Or like the tea bag I use that allows the tea to flavor water, God uses situations to flavor my life. He strains me so that any unnecessary pieces fall out, while the good remain.
As a child (and teenager, and well, adult), I went gem mining. I paid for a bag of dirt and sifted for the colored stones that were in it. On the outside the bag looked plain. But when you took the time to go through it, there were beautiful gems to pull out. No matter how we feel about ourselves, we must remember that we are made in Christ’s image. He put aspects of Himself in us that we are to use. God puts opportunities in front of us to make the most of those attributes. Whether for work, volunteer, or in our personal lives, we are a certain way for a reason.
Straining is useful in our walk with God. None of us is meant to stay the same-that causes stagnation. We need to grow and blossom into someone who serves God. When I get to the end of my life here on earth, I want to be like that tea bag I mentioned-wrung out with nothing left of use.
Join me as I learn to listen to God and act in a way that He gets all the glory.