Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing; thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness. To the end that my glory may sing praise to Thee, and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks unto Thee forever. Psalm 30:11-12

Miniature golf may seem like a gentle pastime, but the Spirit of God can use any activity to drive home a strong insight. Recently He did. It happened when I was playing miniature golf with my ten-year old nephew. We were at the sixth hole and he was leading the way through the course. After completing his swings and as I was getting ready to take my turn, he said, Remember, take advantage of the slope. I did my best to yield to his counsel and completed the hole, but his words stirred me.

No doubt he had heard this from his father when they play golf. He remembered it. Not only did he remember it, but he applied it when it was his turn to swing and he communicated it to me. Slopes, upward or downward slants, may not appear to be advantageous, in golf or in life. However, with closer examination and the right touch, slopes can be of benefit when taking strokes. They can also prove instrumental in advancing us through the course of life.

When we suffer sorrow in life, emotions follow. Our sorrows can be slight or deep. Whatever the degree of sadness, it prompts feelings that can move us closer to God or move us away from Him. An experience that causes sorrow is an opportunity to see God’s faithfulness and grow a deeper faith. Slopes in life direct us to go up or down. Tough times in life come with a slope; they can cause us to trudge up through a difficult transition and strive to get on even footing again. Or, they can look too high and too hard to navigate and prompt apathy, which sets in motion a stagnant or downward trend. For a while, this has its place because grief gives allowance for some lack of effort and fatigue. Eventually, we can see the trial of suffering as a test of faith. It is a time to employ everything we have believed to be true about God, or hoped to be true. God will always prove Him-self to be faithful to His promises. Staying the course of belief in Him will reveal His faithfulness to us in a personal way.

God loves you. God loves me. He wants each person to make it through life dependent on His faithfulness.  When we apply His promises found in His Word, we will gain insight and momentum that is supernatural and able to carry us through to a better day, to a level place again. God has given to us a book full of His strength and promises so that they would be  activated. We make the strength of His Word and their inherent power a part of us when we read them and apply them. Trials are a primary time in life to apply His counsel. When we come through certain challenges, we reinforce the power of God’s promises for the next time we face something difficult. Until we get to Heaven, there will always be trials at various turns in the road. But the God of Israel declares I Am God, I change not (Malachi 3:6). Therefore, His power to save is steady.

Miniature golf was an unlikely place to receive a nugget of truth from a little boy. But it was a time to bear witness to the Spirit of God coming to offer a reminder about faith and building it up by taking advantage of slopes. How good to receive this reminder. In our every trial we have the opportunity to see the faithful and perfecting hand of God.

Lord, You know our trials before we meet them and the pains that they bring. You feel them with us. You stay close to soothe and help us through sorrows we face. You offer strength from Your Word. Holy Spirit, Thank You, for staying at work in our lives as we negotiate slopes and when we are on even ground. Thank You for deepening our faith in all of life’s peaks, valleys, and plateaus. In You alone we can trust.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.