There are times in our walk with God when we end up doing something we had practiced not doing for so long.
On top of many other challenging things, this is a condition that has plagued me for the past couple of days.
This morning I woke up exhausted, both physically and spiritually. This week had taken its toll on me. Some of the assignments I’ve been requested to write require me to argue for something I don’t agree with, something that goes against what I think is right. I’ve been stuck on gauging how resistant I should be to these kinds of assignments and figuring out how to come at them from a biblical perspective. With this battle comes a battle with grief. When someone dies, you don’t really start grieving, I don’t think, until a few days after finding out. Well it’s been about five and I was still feeling it, but I didn’t feel like I could really grieve because of where I am and what surrounds me; grieving would require me to let my guard down, and I don’t feel like I can be that vulnerable, at least not now. Then there’s the admonition of some of my classmates because of my faith, which, because I’m young and naive, I honestly didn’t think would really come up as an issue. A few other things have happened, friends in difficult situations, both here and back home, that I won’t talk about. But all of it was wearing me down.
On my way to church I still smiled, listening to music and observing the sad people on the subway. Even though I was tired, and my shoulders felt heavy, I still had the joy of the Holy Spirit in me, and when I tap into that it’s like nothing can make me really feel hopeless. I stood on the G, wishing all of the frowning faces around me could know what I know and have the joy that I have. I have to wonder how people get through life without God. Humans are constantly, as a rule, looking for a purpose in this life even if they play it off as “this is all you have so you might as well live it to the fullest.” Everyone wants to know that they have some kind of significant part to play in this production that is our lives.
When I arrived at church, I realized how comfortable I’ve become with my church family, because I was okay with telling them that I wasn’t okay. You know how when you first meet new people, and you always say “Oh, I’m good,” even if you’re not? I think we do that (or at least I do that) because first impressions are so crucial to us, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s actually a good thing sometimes, because then, in moments like the one I’m describing to you, you can decidedly say when you really became comfortable in a place that for so long had been unfamiliar and new.
Sunday school went by quickly, the morning service even more so. In the morning service, however, I was almost brought to tears. Pastor talked about faith. I don’t even know why I almost started crying…maybe it was because I was reminded of God’s plan for me; maybe it was the feeling of being loved by Someone I didn’t deserve; maybe, just maybe, it was because I knew that I could have faith in this God, that I could trust Him with everything, even the things that I think are unimportant. I don’t have to work to impress Him…I don’t have to try so hard to be good for Him. All He’s asked me to do, at the core of everything, is just love Him. I was reminded of how worth loving He really is.
Between services I had a meeting with Pastor. I’ve almost finished The Best Question Ever by Andy Stanley. This book is all about wisdom, and one of the things Stanley talks about is what makes a wise person wise. Wise people ask questions and they know their own limits; the way Stanley puts it, “They know what they don’t know.” There are some things going on in my life that I’ve never experienced before, people that I don’t know how to encourage, so I did what I thought would be wise and decided to ask someone who has probably seen and heard all there is to see or hear. I can’t imagine being a pastor. Don’t get me wrong; pastors are not God. There is wisdom that can come only from God and from no one else. But there is more than one kind of wisdom. There’s the wisdom we gain from practicing sensitivity to the Holy Spirit, the wisdom we gain from first-hand experience, and then the wisdom we gain from asking questions about the experience of others. This was an opportunity for me to do the latter.
I left the meeting feeling a little better. I didn’t feel totally fine, but I felt much more knowledgeable than when I went in. In the second service, Pastor talked about forgiveness and about grace. At the end of the service, when the invitation hymn was playing, Anita poked me in the back and asked if I wanted to pray with her. I hesitantly agreed (I say hesitantly because it meant us going up in front of the entire congregation, kneeling at the altar, and praying, which terrified me). We went up and knelt at the altar and the moment we did so, I felt the Holy Spirit connecting me and Anita, and Anita (who, can I just say, is a huge blessing to me) prayed a very detailed prayer over me. She prayed about my struggles, my worries, my desires, my fears, and my circumstances. I was so encouraged by that, and as we walked back to the pews, I felt clean, no longer so weighed down, refreshed.
When we were all getting ready to leave (all, meaning a group of us just happened to be going on the same train in the same general direction), Anita offered to swipe me into the subway because she had an unlimited metro card. All weekend I had been worrying about using my metro card so often because I still don’t have a job and I want to be stingy and frugal with the money I have. I’m going to go ahead and say that this was God’s way of reminding me that He has everything under control.
The moment I came back to my dorm, I put on my uber comfy Pratt sweatpants and laid in bed, thinking. I had a long talk with one of my friends from home and ate a package of Scooby-Doo Fruit Snacks (sorry, this happens to be a symptom of college-induced childhood relapse. Other symptoms include but are not limited to: jump-roping, splashing in puddles on the street, drinking juice boxes, and playing Pokemon on Nintendo DS, or even a GameBoy if the condition is severe).
At some point after hanging up with my friend, I fell asleep. I woke up later, forgetting where I was and wondering how long I had been out. Even though I felt like I had slept for hours, it had only been about forty-five minutes. But I was so grateful for those forty-five minutes. I had the energy I needed to clean up my dorm and start my homework; I finally felt completely solid rather than exhausted and weary like I had felt this morning. Power-naps are officially my new panacea. 😀
God does this cool thing where He very gently and very lovingly reminds me of His promises. Sometimes, because He knows me so well, I have to be knocked around a little bit before I’m ready to listen. But also because He knows me so well, He knew that I was just tired and drained and in need of refreshment. He knew stubbornness had nothing to do with anything. God showed me once again just how discerning, how flexible and understanding He can be, even though He’s the One who holds the threads of the Universe together. He may be all mighty and all powerful, capable of and active in making the thunder roll and the lightning strike….
But He’s my Father, my Protector….
My friend 🙂
“Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident.” Psalm 27:3, ESV