The First Reading from 1 Peter 1 today says that even if you suffer various trials now, you can rejoice regarding the genuineness of your faith, which is tested by this fire, because it will result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus is revealed. This reading is really one of praise. A great promise is outlined that we have an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for us who are protected by the power of God. Though we have not seen God, we believe, and because of this, we receive an indescribable and glorious joy.
These are heady words and yet, I find comfort and peace in them during my illness. Psalm 111 has the psalmist giving thanks to God with a whole heart, not a partial one. The Lord remembers the covenant established forever–not just temporarily. The choice, as illustrated in the Gospel of Mark 10, is ours. Do we keep our part of the promise to love even without seeing, to believe despite the darkness that threatens us, and to rejoice because our faith tells us to? Or do we leave, shocked, grieving, and disappointed because the going has gotten tough?
What does it mean to be an heir to something that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for us? No moth can destroy this treasure, no fire can perish it, and no sun can fade it. It is everlasting this gift that awaits us in heaven. We do nothing to achieve it; the entry is given freely through the mercy of a gracious God who extends an invitation to Love. Can we love this One with all of our hearts and trust that we will receive a glorious joy at the end of our days?
I know whose standard I stand under: I am for Christ. I love the Holy Trinity with my whole heart and my faith is genuine. This is not to say that at times I do not falter or doubt but my eyes are on the prize. I have had a most amazing life but that does not mean it has been pain-free. On the contrary, the sufferings have shaped me into a more compassionate person with a heart that desires to serve God even more. Suffering cracks open shallow faith and exposes it to the Light. Trials cause faith to mature. I am part mermaid in that I have dived deeply into dark, murky waters. I have emerged scarred but sacred. Each challenge has marked me. I have had a choice to make–and I have always chosen my faith. It has never disappointed me. The church has. So-called Christians have failed me. My faith though–my relationship with the Trinity–it keeps evolving and even when I do not understand it, I am in awe of it. God has a good grip on me thankfully. I hope that I may be able to stay the course in the coming months, and unlike the man in the Gospel, I hope that I am able to follow Jesus to the very end right through the eye of the needle. I believe that with God all things are possible. What that looks like, I cannot say, but I need to trust the way.
Do you believe that you have an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven?
Do you give thanks to God with your whole heart or just a part when the going gets tough?
God, get a good grip on me and keep me from wriggling away when trials overwhelm. Crack open my faith so that it may die and grow into a strong tree with beautiful blossoms. Help me stay the course, remaining under your banner of Love, and pull me right through the eye of that needle. Amen.