"There is a vital truth here, one that Jesus knew all too well, and one that we must always, always keep in mind: evil takes various forms, and most dangerous of all is the evil that appears to be good."
—From Ch. 14 ("Eat, Jump, Bow") of Jesus Journey
It was one of those perfect autumn mornings in the Northeast. The kind of morning where you can see your breath early in the day, but not at noon. Trees were exploding with color, leaves crunching underfoot—yet, I could appreciate none of it.
Because my mind was preoccupied with my incompetence.
Scranton, Pennsylvania. November 2011. I was a newly minted MBA graduate from one of the country’s “finest institutions” (my Grandma’s words). A management consultant (very original career selection for an MBA student… ahem, sarcasm noted).
Our client was a health insurance company (not a fledgling paper company as you might have suspected). They were facing some very real challenges, and I didn’t have a clue where to start. It felt like I was swimming white water rapids with toddler floaties on. And because the workload was so overwhelming, I had slept an average of three hours per night for about seven weeks.
So, on this particular morning, I was watching the Courtyard Hotel staff setting up the continental breakfast. It was 4:30am and my team and I were still in the lobby hard at work from the night before. In fact, I can still remember walking into the office later that morning and jealously watching a guy washing windows six or seven stories up—I stood there long enough to draw some awkward glances, genuinely wishing that I could have his job.
And then the whisper.
The simple whisper that changes everything:
“I’m more interested in your character than your comfort.”
In that moment, God reminded me what he’s after in my life. It was all I needed to hear. This job was so much more about my character than anything else. God wanted character to form in me… sadly, I thought it was already there.
I had been given advice to bail on this job. I was even offered a much more cushy job with my previous employer. But something deep down told me that my definition of “good” may be different than God’s.
You know, it sure seems good to remove the challenges in our lives, especially when those challenges are partially within our control.
But Jesus showed us another way to live when he faced the devil in the wilderness. Sure, Jesus could have bailed... it was certainly in his control. But he knew that the temporary challenge he was facing in the wilderness was forming an irreplaceable treasure inside: character.
Something no one could steal from him. Not in this life or the next.
Today's guest post is by Joel Bryce: "Joel lives in South Africa with his wife Sarah and daughter Victoria. He is starting a food and agricultural business (www.philafricafoods.com) with the vision of supporting the lives of millions of small-scale farmers—economically, socially, and spiritually. Joel originally met Trent via a cassette tape in 1999, when Joel’s brother was attending a youth conference in Colorado. Joel blames Trent for carrying a bible around during his senior year of high school, in a desperate—yet genuine—attempt to live a more Jesus-centered life."
Photo credits: Chelsea Hudson