Echoes From the Campfire

The gimps, the scars, they were the marks of his trade.”
              –Hal Borland  (When the Legends Die)

    “But the one who endures and bears up [under suffering] to the end will be saved.”
              –Matthew 24:13 (Amplified)
Each morning I read a short devotion by Dallas Willard, and then a little longer one from the Book of Matthew with thoughts from some of the preachers of the 18th and 19th centuries.  I am also very aware of what Romans 5:3-4, and James 1:2-4 says.  Now I figure that at this point in my life I don’t need too much more of the things discussed in those Scriptures, but reckon the Lord sees differently.  
    When I read, or hear a sermon, and they tend to say the same thing I know that it’s the Lord speaking so I hearken to what is being said.  Here are some of the thoughts from Dallas Willard:

         “It is only in the heat of pain and suffering, both mental and physical, that real human character is forged.  One does not develop courage without facing danger, patience without trials, wisdom without heart-and-brain-racking puzzles, endurance without suffering, or temperance and honesty without temptations…  The gold of human character is dug from torturous mines, but dung and dirt are quite easily come by…
         “I’m not saying that we should go looking for pain, so that we can develop character.  This is not at all necessary.  All we need to do is make an honest and thorough effort to discover what is right and wrong, good and bad, and, when we are convinced on these points, then simply go out and face life for what it is worth.  There will be plenty of opportunity to develop character.”

That’s quite a bit to ponder, but when you come right down to it truth is apparent.  Remember God is looking to develop our character, He is not as much concerned about our comfort.  Comfort can lull us to sleep, make us complacent, and we become lackadaisical in our life.  Remember the old maxim:  NO PAIN–NO GAIN!
    Now a few words from Alexander MacLaren as he writes regarding Matthew 24:13, “But he who stands firm to the end will be saved” (NIV).  It is interesting that this verse is contained within the discussion of Jesus on the end times.

         “However many days are bright, and in whatsoever way all days are good, the reality is that our overall life is a fight.  For some of us it is simple endurance; for all of us it has sometimes been agony; for all of us, always, it presents resistence, both inward and outward hindrances, to every noble life, especially to the Christian life.
         “Within, weakness, weariness, indolence, bright purposes clouding over, inconsistent wills, and all the works of the flesh continually war against the better self.  And without, there is a constant down-dragging that comes from a whole assemblage of external things that solicit and attempt to seduce us…
         “To ‘stand firm’ means active persistence as well as patient submission.  It is not enough that we should stand and bear the pelting of the storm, unmurmuring and unbowed by it, but we are bound to go on our way, bearing up and steering right onward.  Persistent perseverance in the path that is marked out for us is the virtue that our Lord is speaking about.  The endurance that wins the soul and leads to salvation is the brave perseverance in the face of all difficulties and in spite of all enemies.”

    Friends, many things may come your way to distract, confuse, cause you consternation and frustration.  Many things are thrown at you by the devil and the world to keep you from your mission in life.  That mission includes what you are to be doing here on earth and the ultimate mission of getting to heaven.  The devil will try to destroy your effectiveness; he will try to destroy your soul.  ENDURE!  Endure to the end.  No matter what stage of life you are in, let the Holy Spirit continue to develop your character.  Trust Him when situations arise, great or small.
    Every morning, to my kids, grandkids, and a few others I send a photo of scenery and a saying from a church leader or a verse of Scripture.  In light of what I was saying above, the Scripture that I happened to choose was Philippians 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord always.  Again I will say, rejoice.” (NKJV)  No matter the fiery trials or the raging storms or the floods it is our duty to rejoice.  Hmmm, seems to me the person who can rejoice in the midst of trouble is the person who has character.