It’s been a day of contrasts. Much of my morning was spent with police officers and an unruly patron. My lunch was with a dear friend over tomato soup and quiche. My afternoon was caught up again with some of our regular patrons and a complaint aimed at a colleague, while my dinner was spent over a wonderful book about, of all things, libraries.
This is the life most of us lead — ups and downs, light and dark, for and against. Sometimes it’s hard to know what you’re feeling from one minute to the next, but in the end, it all seems to balance out with a good cup of tea and some reflection.
That’s when I came across an email from a friend who’s living overseas. While she’s praising God for the progress she’s acknowledged in the hard job of language learning, she continues to struggle with the day-to-day life of ministry in a foreign land.
As she lists her requests for prayer, she ends it with two final groupings: For and Against.
While she asks for humility, sensitive ears, quick obedience and deeper relationships, she requests us to pray against fear and disunity, bitterness, comparison, shame and deceit. What a contrast of items, and yet, I realize they are not unique to ministry overseas or otherwise — they are part of the daily struggles of every person who seeks to follow Christ in this world of trouble.
How often is our witness hurt as individuals and as the church by the spirit of fear and disunity, bitterness and comparison? How many times have I grieved the Spirit of Christ by my shame to take a stand or deceitful lifestyle? Just because a person goes into full-time Christian ministry doesn’t mean temptations and attacks don’t plague their days? I think, “I’m right there with you, sister.”
So, tonight, as I pray for my friend, I pray for myself, that the fors will overcome the againsts in our lives. I ask that growing humility, spiritual sensitivity, quick obedience and deepening relationships will strengthen our faith and increase our awareness of Satan’s attacks and ability to stand strong for Christ.
The Apostle Paul understood the contrasts of this life, when he wrote:
So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!*
Yes, thanks be to God, who enables us, through Christ and the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, to live a life that pleases him — contrasts and all.
Grace and Peace
*Romans 5:21-25 (NIV)