My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing.

                                             James 1:2-4 New Revised Standard Version


A few weeks ago I wrote about finding joy and I summed it up with Mary’s Song (Luke 1: 46-56.) I wrote about the joy that Mary had, with her whole being, about what God was doing in her life, preparing her for the birth of her son, Jesus. She was bursting with the glory of God.  I went on to compare what I was finding joy in to what I was finding despair in. This week I am reminded that I am choosing joy, that I am choosing to find the glory of God in my own wilderness of life.

At our ministry team meeting this week, Pastor Tiffany had us discussing how the glory of God is often where we choose to ignore it; that we have a tendency to focus on our life in the dry, often tiring, wilderness.

The wilderness looks different to many of us. Maybe our job is lacking in inspiring us to do great things or maybe even our job is not offering the financial security that we need. The wilderness could be that we are not putting forth efforts to enjoy the friendship that we have in our lives; maybe we need to grab a cup of coffee with that friend whom we haven’t reached out to in a while. It could be that our wilderness is a blended family, struggling to meet everyone’s expectations.

You see each of us have a different wilderness that we must forge through. Step after step we push forward with finding glory before giving into the harshness of our surroundings and sometimes the realities of our situations. For me, the wilderness tends to be where I stay, meaning that so often I am wandering around focusing on the things that give me negative energy that I tend to pass the glory of what is God is doing.

Throughout my journey with choosing joy, I find myself learning to change my frame of mind from wandering blindly through the wilderness to attempting to find the light through the trees. This change in perspective happens when I fully let myself understand that the trials will come, and may tend to stay for a while, but the endurance I have to grow helps me see the glory, joy, and light while in the wilderness.

Choosing to focus on the endurance, to stay in the glory, is where I find the maturity in complete, and selfless, discipleship; there is where I see that God is working, not only in my life, but in the lives of others. I see complete renewal of faith when a person’s job becomes their passion, seeing a reconnecting of friends after months, sometimes years, of separation, and where the blended family becomes less about “me” and more about “us”.

If we learn to see that our discipleship is enriched when we live in the glory and light, and only rest and not settle in the wilderness, then our lives will become much more enjoyable and the glory of God will shine.

My friends, may we live in the glory of God though we travel through the wilderness. Be blessed.

Tim Boyer, Director of Student Ministries