Wasting trials?

I recently bought a book that I’ve been wanting for quite some time.  It finally arrived the other day and I have to say I’ve been very pleased with my purchase!  The book is Common Prayer:  A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals by Shane Claiborne, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove and Enuma Okoro.

I had heard and read several positive recommendations for this book and I have to admit that, so far, I’m in agreement with them.  The book is set up with daily readings, Scripture verses, prayers and church history as a way to channel a wildly divergent church body toward a common search for a deeper relationship with God.  It is NOT an endorsement for any particular denomination, but rather a combining of elements designed to direct God’s people to worship in unity.

Personally, I had to have it because I just plain liked the title.  Ordinary radicals?  That’s a pretty interesting concept…especially when combined with prayer and the pursuit of God.  It seems to me a reminder that followers of Christ ARE called to a radically different lifestyle which requires prayer and a common goal with other believers.

So, what does that have to do with the title of this blog?  Well, one of my first readings this week (the November 25th reading) had a repeating refrain that has kind of stuck with me:

“Wake us to your presence, Lord:  that we might not waste our times of trial.”

It was followed by a prayer that began, “What would you teach us today in our trials, Lord?…”

Those phrases resonated with me because, like you, I’ve had some pretty significant issues in my lifetime.  I’ve got to admit that there have been plenty of times when I wondered what God was up and why in the world He would choose to do it that way.  (There are those pesky WHY questions again!)

Several years ago, however, God led us through a series of issues that made us really focus on Him.  There was simply no other way to survive them.   During that time, we asked God to be clear in His directions to us AND to please help us learn the lessons He was trying to teach us so that we would make the most of the time and, from a very practical point of view, not have to repeat them.

We learned a lot.  We hurt a lot.  We prayed a lot…and we found out that our God is more than able to take the hard things and bring good from them if we will let Him do so.  Given the choice, we would rather not repeat those lessons.  However, if we had to choose between not going through them and missing out on what we learned about God and His faithfulness…well, then, we would have to choose to repeat the circumstances.

That’s very hard to say.  It’s actually hard to even think about it, but it doesn’t make it any less true.

So.  For today, maybe it does make sense to look at the difficult circumstances in all of our lives and ask God to make sure we don’t waste them.  IF–and I hope this is the case!–you’re actually in a great place today, remember to give thanks and then take time to look around.  There may be someone nearby who needs to hear this from you:

“Wake us to your presence, Lord:  that we might not waste our times of trial.”

Indeed.

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