Oh Character – that dreaded word! Why does God so like to work on our character? I fall into the habit of striving for God, forgetting that He doesn’t actually need any assistance from me. And then He brings it back to what He cares most about – that I give Him praise and that I am becoming more Christ-like.
Last week I took up delivery junk mail around our local area to help a little with support raising for my next trip over to Africa as I have been unable to find a job as an Occupational Therapist since coming home. Talk about humbling!
I was none too impressed when the folding of the leaflets and brochures took twice as long as the lady had suggested it would. I was even less impressed when the distribution aspect took three times as long. Who wants to lug around heavy backpacks for four hours at a time? I certainly don’t!
And then God’s gentle voice broke in on my grumbling: “It’s building character, Shannon”. Hmpf!
But amazingly, those words acted to pull me back into a right focus. The following day I still struggled and had to constantly remind myself, “It’s character building… It’s character building… It’s character building…”. The day after that one, however, saw short bursts of praise and worship begin to flow out from my spirit. And then, on the fourth day, I had a blessed four hour quiet time with God, and revelled in the exercise.
I had started the junk mail rounds with a bitter heart and yet God had turned them into wonderful times of fellowship with Him, intercession and worship. How great is our God!
Character building is never pleasant, but the fruit is worth it! God doesn’t do it to dishearten us but to transform us into the likeness of His Son. And I am so grateful that He did not leave me in my place of initial bitterness, but rather, brought me into the joy and peace of His Presence.
In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith–more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire–may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 6-9)
More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Romans 5:3-5)