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  • Writer's pictureTara L. Banks

Both Sides of the List...

Have you ever been in a situation where you've been given two options, and you chose the easy way out? We all have. It's our nature to choose the path of least resistance. We naturally lean towards decisions that offer the least pain, the fastest route, and the most straightforward plan.

But is that the best way? I would dare say that the times of most significant challenge bring on the most significant growth. As believers (why... I do not know), we think that life should be easy. But, I have news - that's a lie from the enemy and one he's working on getting us to believe.

In our quest for the 'easy way,' we often short-change best as we settle for good.

Sometimes I read my Bible and say 'yes and amen,' and I agree that I want all of what I'm reading for my life or for those I love.

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. - Jeremiah 29:11

Then there are times when I read my Bible, and I think, uh- Lord - really? I wish this wasn't in here.

I have told you these things so that you will be whole and at peace. In this world, you will be plagued with times of trouble, but you need not fear; I have triumphed over this corrupt world order. - John 16:33

"Plagued with times of trouble"?? And that makes me "whole and at peace"?? Uh - I don't think so.

Likewise, in Ecclesiastes, there is a list filled with seeming contradictions written by King Soloman (not The Byrds, if you're familiar). This list in scripture has 28 "times" that things happen:

For everything that happens in life—there is a season, a right time for everything under heaven:

A time to be born, a time to die;

a time to plant, a time to collect the harvest;

A time to kill, a time to heal;

a time to tear down, a time to build up;

A time to cry, a time to laugh;

a time to mourn, a time to dance;

A time to scatter stones, a time to pile them up;

a time for a warm embrace, a time for keeping your distance;

A time to search, a time to give up as lost;

a time to keep, a time to throw out;

A time to tear apart, a time to bind together;

a time to be quiet, a time to speak up;

A time to love, a time to hate;

a time to go to war, a time to make peace.

-Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8

Here's where I want to pause for today.

It's tempting to only want one side of the list. To want the easy way out.

We want to laugh, not cry.

We want to build up, not tear down.

We want dancing, not mourning.

However, King Solomon makes it very clear in verse 1 that "there is a right time" for everything that happens. Everything. This means, as much as we want to, we can't just choose one side of the list. Both sides are the right sides. We've never been promised they would be easy, but they are all right.

The same is true with the fruits of the Spirit.

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! - Galatians 5:22-23

As the people of God, these are all things we want. But do we really?

I want love, but I don't want my heart broken in the process

I want joy, but I don't want trials to measure against them

I want peace, but I don't want strife to make it evident

I want patience, but I don't want to wait

I want kindness, but I don't want to have to treat everyone well

I want goodness, but I want justice on my terms

I want faithfulness, but only if it's not costly

I want gentleness, but want to be able to prove the point

I want self-control, but I don't want discipline

We have to understand that to receive the fruit's blessing, we must be willing to endure what it takes to make it grow.

The good things in our life come from growth. Growth takes time and effort and is not without sacrifice. Sacrifice can be painful and sometimes means life is hard. However, those same hard things can turn into good things that create growth. And so it goes - over and over if we are willing to see the entire process through. And seeing it through means being willing to experience both sides of the list.

Are we willing to see it through? To understand we need both sides of the list? Pause and ask the Lord to show you where you need to surrender your 'easy way out' for his plan for your heart, and then watch as He turns it into a beautiful opportunity for growth this week. ♡


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