“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment.”
It was Friday night date night (cue the confetti poppers) and everything was ready to go! I heard the doorbell ring and as I opened the front door a giant smiling piñata cookie greeted me. As silly as this may sound, if you know my mother you would not be surprised to hear this. If any grandma were to randomly bring a piñata for her grandkids to play with, that would be my mother. Needless to say, the kids were more than ecstatic, my husband was a little confused, and my mother was having a proud-grandma moment.
30 seconds later I found myself filling the piñata with copious amounts of candy and small toys. Knowing we have nothing substantial on which to hang the piñata I asked my mom for the plan she had in mind. No plan. After three grown, educated adults racked our brains for a solution, my husband resorted to hanging the piñata with a flimsy gift-wrap ribbon. With one end tied to the piñata and the other end tied to a (wait for it)…broom, my husband has no choice but to hold the end of the broom up and out so the piñata can dangle in the air and the kids can whack it. My three-year-old son quickly came running out of his room with his plastic tee-ball bat gripped with both hands and perfectly positioned over his head, charging toward Cookie with one thing on his mind – absolute destruction.
After ten minutes of my kids hitting the piñata, nothing is happening, not even a dent. By this time my husband is sweating and his arms are burning. Enduring beating after beating, this cookie refuses to crumble. Now laying flat on the floor with his smiling face taunting us, the kids begin wrestling and tackling Cookie in an effort to break him. Piñata paper shards are flying everywhere; Cookie is dented but not yielding the goods. This was officially the most indestructible piñata we’ve ever seen.
Resigned to the easy way out, we realized there is a trapdoor in the back of the piñata. With a slight air of defeat, the kids finally resort to pulling the strings to the trapdoor and sure enough loot flies everywhere. Victory! Forget all the hard work it takes to break the piñata open, just pull these little strings and out flies happiness piece by piece.
AS FUN AS IT MIGHT BE TO PULL THE TRAPDOOR OF A PINATA, TOO MANY OF US WISH WE SERVED A "TRAPDOOR" GOD.
If only God created a “trapdoor” that we could use to usurp all our problems with, then we’d find real happiness. Too frequently we find ourselves looking for the red “help” button for life’s trials and difficult circumstances; I know I’d certainly be a frequent user if such problem-solvers existed. When I’m faced with a trying situation, I am quick to search for the easy way out, the least painful, and quickest option to ease my discomfort…the trapdoor!
Sure, there are easy ways to getting ahead in life and relieving our pain, but in the end do they really yield the loot of godly character, peace, and joy that we’re called to pursue? If these “trapdoors” take us off the path Christ has for us and cause us to give into the temptations of lust, materialism, discontentment, or jealousy, what kind of loot will we partake of in the end?
I CAN ASSURE FROM EXPERIENCE THAT THE TRAPDOORS THE WORLD OFFERS OVER-PROMISE AND UNDER-DELIVER.
"There is a way that seems right to a man but in the end it leads to death." (Proverbs 14:12). Taking the way of our flesh, the easy way, deceives us into thinking this will lead us to comfort, but, in the end, the loot we find ourselves gathering is bitter to the soul and leaves us feeling empty. The way of death is rarely clearly marked and never advertised by the enemy; in fact, the way to devastation looks a whole lot like a beautiful, ripe, juicy piece of fruit from a "tree that is good for food and pleasing to the eye" (ref to Genesis 3:6). It looks like justifying our bitterness toward "that one person", mental escape in Social Media to drown out our hard reality, and emotional comfort in the arms of the wrong person.
WE NEED THE WISDOM OF GOD TO SHOW US THAT THE PATH TO LIFE RUNS PARALLEL TO THE PATH OF OBEDIENCE, NO MATTER HOW DIFFICULT THE TERRAIN, AND WE NEED HIS STRENGTH TO TRAVERSE IT FAITHFULLY.
After having searched for too many of my own trapdoors, I’ve come to discover that most times God’s answer to our difficulties are found, not in the easy way out, but in the hard work of perseverance (James 1:12), the patience it takes to wait on God (Psalm 27:14), not growing weary in doing good (Galatians 6:9), and the endurance needed to whack away at a seemingly indestructible character flaw until it crumbles (Romans 5:3-5).
GOD IS NOT ONLY INTERESTED IN OUR VICTORIOUS DESTINATION, BUT THE JOURNEY WE TAKE TO GET THERE BECAUSE HOW WE GET THERE IS JUST AS IMPORTANT AS GETTING THERE.
When we’re faced with marital strain, difficult people at work, or financial distress, may we have the courage to say no to the allure of the trapdoors and easy ways out in our lives that would take us off the path of obedience. Instead, let us pick up our full armor of God and the weapons He’s given us to start swinging away at our obstacles in a way that will bring the loot of Christ-like character and eternal reward.
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