A couple of years ago we loaded up our 3-year-old and 15-month old into our homemade camper van. Do not picture the trendy kind of van you can stand up in and cook breakfast barefoot while admiring a mountain top view. Picture the type of van parents warn their children not to go to for free candy and will require a visit to the chiropractor after crawling in and out. That is more like our van. We had a month-long trip planned out from Texas to Yellowstone and back. Before we pulled out of the driveway I prayed silently, knowing we were willingly falling into a trial. I knew to lock us all up in such a small space with a still breastfeeding/not yet walking infant and a prone to car sickness toddler was going to be a challenge. However, with every challenge comes an opportunity to grow. So, I prayed for an extra measure of grace for us all as we learned how to be patient with each other and trust God to get us through the trip in one piece. He answered that prayer in full. We were able to laugh about it as we stopped at the top of Pikes Peak to change an exploded diaper and the bottom of Pikes Peak to clean up the inevitable car sickness. We found provision when our van wouldn’t start at the Flaming Gorge, as we rode with it loaded on a tow truck in Steamboat Springs and when we needed a new tire in New Mexico.
The trip afforded many opportunities for fear, panic, impatience, and anger. The flip side of the coin held opportunities for faith, patience, peace and even joy. Obviously it wasn’t perfect and neither were we. We veered back and forth between acting in the Spirit and in the flesh. However, God was faithful to produce the fruits of the Spirit we desperately needed.
The world is in unprecedented times right now. With all of our advancements, we are being told to stay home or at least not gather in groups over 10 people. We see our friends in China and Italy that have had to take drastic measures to keep their distance from one another in order to stop the spread of this virus and wonder if it will come to that in our own nation. By no means am I comparing the trials of a road trip with those that this pandemic has brought, but I keep having that same feeling I did as we prepared to leave on our trip. I'm about to be locked up in the house with my family 24/7 for who knows how long. I'm afraid for my friends and family that could be killed by this sickness and for my friends and family who are taking a huge financial hit right now. On and on the list could go. This is and will continue to be hard. This is an opportunity for some serious spiritual growth.
I have believed in Jesus for eternal life so I know where I am going. I also know from scripture that as a believer I have the ability and option to follow Christ for a richer experience in eternity and a more abundant life on this Earth. James gave some very apt advice for followers living today when he said,
count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing."James 1:2-4
Faith can be difficult to find in times of such uncertainty, but if we stand firm focusing our mind on the Spirit, we are promised unthinkable things. The next few days, weeks, possibly months are going to be a wild ride. Let’s encourage each other to count it all joy. We are on a fast track to spiritual maturity. It will be hard. It will not always be fun, but it will be worth it.