Jami Smith gives us hope

Jami Smith
Jami Smith

Can God turn our gift of troublesome years into benefit and beauty? I say it all depends on if you are willing to admit you are in trouble.

"In this world you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world."

The Christian who boasts and professes a life "trouble free" is selling you something. He must have been a used car salesmen before and thinks that Christianity must be treated with the same doctor of embellishment and shine. Shine on the outside, but don't focus on the mileage, and of course it is the mileage that matters. I once had a wise lady tell me, "Let God get all the mileage out of you that he can." When will we choose to believe the first part of this verse as much as we enjoy the back part? True, we have the overcomer right by us, within us, we are not left alone, and heaven help us all if we didn't have the Holy Spirit as our counselor. But, I am ready for all people but especially professing Christians to admit that they have troubles. I think it would do all believers a world of good to sit down and sing the blues for about a year. Maybe it would finally begin to sink in that we are depraved, helpless, and full of pain, inflictors of pain, in need of a savior and having trouble, lots of it in fact.

My story in no different, the background may be different from yours, but the result is the same.trouble. My older brother hit puberty and rebellion seemed to awaken from its sinful hibernation. I am not cursing my dear brother. He (just like me and all of us) lives in a fallen world with a sin-sick heart. For reasons I still do not completely understand he could not submit to any authority. He dropped out of the 10th grade. He intentionally got his girlfriend pregnant and at 15 years old, he left home. It all happened so fast that we, the rest of my family, (mom, dad, me and little brother), literally thought it was a bad dream that we'd would wake-up from. A shot-gun wedding ensued and two teen-agers gave their childhood away.

And so, I followed this trouble with an inner vow to be no trouble. I had seen my parents fight, cry and literally breakdown. I was, of course, encouraged by the Christian culture in both good and bad ways to overcome this family tragedy, and I, unbeknownst to me, began to live a life of legalism and perfection in an effort to undo the family shame. This is too much for a 13 year-old to take on. I became an excellent hider and denier of trouble, especially my own. Didn't my family have enough shame? Couldn't I at least do better? No, I had to exceed all expectations in order to erase the previous damnations committed by my lineage. So, I became no trouble. I was not perfect but I tried to be, and became good at following the rules, especially the rules of Christianity. Don't drink. Don't smoke. Don't do drugs. Don't have sex (I'd seen what that can do). And then there was a 'Do-list'. Go to church (NEVER miss). Have Christian friends. Read the bible. Immerse yourself in Christian culture and most importantly, don't get into trouble!

This was a time-bomb waiting to go off, and it did in college. Keeping all the rules all the time for the sake of being good lost its luster and instead I wanted to do what I wanted to do. This desire appeared at the time that I was not really in a relationship with the Savior but in a relationship with religion, "no romance just rules," would have been my slogan if I were advertising my brand of Christianity. Thankfully, my God, not the God of legalism I had served so faithfully with my countless dos and don'ts, but the God of mercy and grace and forgiveness beyond measure was there to rescue me. I discovered Him to be a Faithful forgiver and a realist. He turned out to be someone who knew I was sick, full of hidden sin, and prone to trouble. He knew that I was in trouble because of my choices and that I needed help out of trouble. And what is more, my troubles were not shocking to Him. He did not gasp at my depraved nature or my sinful patterns of coping with life. Instead, He began to teach me to admit my trouble to Him and to others, to ask for help, to be weak, and in need. As this began I found a treasure. This treasure was so valuable to me that I would sell everything I own to have Him. A Savior, an overcomer, a healer, and a friend who helps me in the trouble that He promised me I'd have. So, if we take Him at His word, we receive two promises. Trouble and the Overcomer are ours to take us through this life. In the Bible there is a passage in Psalm 73 that says, "You hold me by my right hand, you guide me with your council, and afterwards you take me to glory," seems like a pretty sweet progression to me. CR

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