The X Factor

There are moments in my life when I think I have all the pieces. In these moments God often likes to rock my boat. Just when I think I know the direction he is taking me I want to start to run ahead only to find myself tripping all over my own feet. Yet, he’s been incredibly gentle with me as he’s been teaching me that part of walking by faith is recognizing that there is always an X factor- a crucial yet unknown factor. My level of trust in God will often expose exactly how I choose to calculate for X.

As I read Timothy Keller’s, Jesus the King, I am reminded of the Jesus I was first called to serve. He is not a God that will be hurried. And as Keller puts it,

“It’s not ‘I will not be hurried though I love you’; it’s ‘I will not be hurried because I love you. I know what I’m doing. And if you try to impose your understanding of schedule and timing on me, you will struggle to feel loved by me.’”

Col1:15-17 “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”

My theme word for this year has been Hope. As I embarked on my pursuit of hope, in the very short four month span I have seen God test my hope in ways I did not think were possible. Most recently he has been teaching me that when I go to him for help, I will always get far more than I had in mind. However, I will also end up giving more to him than I wanted or expected to give. Sometimes I come to God and I ask for things. I ask for things in my career, for love, for security in one form or another. I want things. Don’t get me wrong there is nothing wrong with wanting these things and others but how much I want them vs how much I entrust what I want to God are two very different things.

Keller uses the story of the dead girl and the sick woman in Mark 5:21-43 to highlight this difference for me. The father came to Jesus with enough faith to want his daughter to be healed from sickness, but Jesus pushed his faith and brought her back from the dead. The bleeding woman wanted healing but she just wanted to touch Jesus and run. Jesus however pushed her to expose herself.

In the beginning of the year I made a big job switch; the position was a long awaited answered prayer, but quickly proved challenging in many ways. I even considered quitting. When the sequester happened I realized the job I had received only weeks before was my saving grace. While on travel for work, six days into my trip I went into the local clinic with what I thought was a stomach bug, but learned I had contracted malaria. Not any old malaria either, one of the worst strains of it. As everyone waited for me to collapse either from the sickness or from the drugs to cure it, I felt fine and was able to not only function, but continue to work 15 hour days and keep a joyful disposition that affected others’ sour moods. The timing of it all astounded me. If I had waited to go to the clinic, the symptoms could have gotten worse very quickly resulting in a lot of suffering. If I hadn’t been diagnosed at the clinic, it could have resulted in my being quarantined or worse, death. Yet, I know God worked through it and I was spared.

Our lives are riddled with a million little moments just like the ones I described above and just like the ones the people of the Bible faced. The message he sends is a call to be patient because things don’t always work out the way we expect them. Sometimes this is a good thing, like the job; other times it’s not so good, like the malaria. However, both serve a purpose and can be used to show God’s power, mercy and love in my life. There will be times when things will be hard and I will be called to give more without knowing what the result will be. It may result in major pain and disappointment in the short-term, but ultimately, in the long-term, it will always result in coming forth as gold.

Job 23:10 “But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.”


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