Friday, January 14

The Stuff I'm Made Of

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. --James 1:2-4



On Wednesday, NASA launched a powerful spacecraft as part of their "Deep Impact" project. The objective is to intentionally collide the rocket with Tempel 1, a nearby asteroid, creating in it a creater large enough and deep enough to provide scientists with an opportunity to examine the asteroid's contents. They hope that by collecting and studying the physical and chemical properties of the asteroid they can better understand other things in space, particularly the processes and events that shape our universe and brought our planet into existence.

It seems strange that in order to best understand something, a portion of it has be be wiped out. The only way to reach the inside of something of that magnitude is to exert on it an incredible amount of fire power and force. The asteroid, athough well-defined in size and shape, will be forever changed as a result of this project.

Human beings also feel the forces and fire power of deep impacts that occur in our lives. We spin in our own orbits, oblivious to the fact that powerful rockets head straight for us with the intention of breaking us. Everyone, Christian or not, falls victim to a devastating blow at some time or another. Tremendous events can throw us off center, sometimes knocking away a piece of who we are. Some people are completely destroyed by such impacts. Others are scarred from the event.

When we are hit deeply enough, we reveal what we are made of. We are either filled with the Holy Spirit who can give us the fortitude to carry on, or we are completely empty and can be reduced to chunks of debris.

In my own life, I have been hit with more than a few deep impacts. Each one has forever changed me and shaped me into who I have now become. Many people have referred to these events as "character building". Although that is a Biblical statement and certainly true to some extent, I am inclined to disagree with that description. I think that because I am a Christian, my interal character has been unchanged, while my external worldly shell has undergone quite a bit of change. With each hit from deep impacts, more of my true character, the stuff I'm made of, has been revealed.

I am rooted in Christ and he is my strength. It is because of him that I have the internal character that I do. Every time something has impacted me, the work that God is doing in me becomes more visibly evident. At the same time, part of my own selfishness has been chipped away.

I'll admit that such a process is a painful one. As humans we are naturally inclined toward self-preservation, so the idea of having part of myself "blown to bits" just so that the glory of God can be revealed through his work in me is not an immediately appealing thought. However, this process is a necessary one. If I am to better understand the reality that it is not by my own strength but by the strength of Christ in me that i can do anything at all, then being deeply impacted in painful ways is required and beneficial.

I know I will undoubtedly have more pieces of my self cleared away in many different ways throughout the rest of my life, but because I know that internaly I'm made of stuff that survives, I don't have to worry about it or fear it. I will continue to change as life changes around me, and a variety of deep impacts will leave their marks, but through it all I know that Christ who is in me will be clearly revealed as the truest part of the stuff I'm made of.

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