I like hiking. Well I like being at a beautiful spot and I like the memory of hiking. But I hate the rest of it. I don’t like to be uncomfortable. Once I hit that point where I’m getting tired I’m done. Hiking is great until I’m tired, sweaty, and 5 miles away from the car and all I can think about is my couch and a cold drink. It’s always more fun in memory, but in the moment I would rather do something else.
I suspect that describes most of us in western culture. We so detest discomfort that we avoid it at all costs. We have made our lives as comfortable as possible. While I don’t think this was done with bad intentions I think it has had negative consequences on our walk with God. The second we run into a problem our gut reaction is to ditch God’s plan. We view the conflict in our lives as something to avoid at all costs.
What if that conflict is there to show us something? What if there is an amazing story God wants to tell in our lives that exists on the other side of the conflict we are desperately trying to avoid?
I believe the pursuit of comfort in our lives has made following God much harder. We view God as harsh for allowing conflict to enter our lives. But it’s that conflict we hate that brings about a good story in our life. It’s that conflict that makes our life something powerful that can changes those around us. We shouldn’t run from conflict, but rather trust God through it.
Although not easy, I have learned when conflict arises in my life, big or small, it is always too soon to give up on God. My gut reaction is to run the opposite direction and seek out comfort. However I remind myself that God’s plan is always better. And it’s always too soon to give up on Him.
I learned my first tough lesson in this years ago. I was going though some conflict and I was reading Donald Miller’s book “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years.” In his book Donald takes the idea of what makes a good story and compares it to what makes a good life. This challenged my western thinking of comfort as king and changed the way I thought of conflict.
This quote from the book has stuck with me through the years. Whenever I face conflict I remember this quote and think about what God is doing in my life.
“Somehow we realize that great stories are told in conflict, but we are unwilling to embrace the potential greatness of the story we are actually in. We think God is unjust, rather then a master storyteller.” Donald Miller
I now see conflict as bringing about a good story. I see it as making me more like Jesus. Do I like it? Rarely. But I know that a story absent of conflict is a story that is not worth telling. And I want to tell a good story. Not for my sake, not so people will remember me. But so that people will see Jesus in the way I live. After all Jesus went through conflict few of us will ever understand. And told us that if we are to follow Him then we will endure the same kind of conflict.
Jesus is trying to tell a beautiful story in each of our lives. But as in every good story there is conflict. Don’t run away from it, push through it. Trust that God is with you in it and will bring you through it. Trust that God is writing a beautiful story with your life. Trust that His way is always better than your way, even when it doesn’t seem like it. It’s always too soon to give up on God.