The statement, “well that was a stupid idea” ran through my head way too many times today. Well, actually, it was really just in the evening. The first part of the day was actually really awesome!
Let me just start at the beginning.
I woke up this morning tired but excited. God had just pushed me, pulled me, brought me through one of the most difficult times in my faith. When I talked to Him this morning, it was like the first time I realized I needed Him, like the first time I talked to Him like He’s my best friend. It was refreshing, strengthening, and lovely. This morning I not only continued reading through Daniel but I also began reading through Matthew. While I’ve ready plenty of passages from Matthew, just like Daniel, I’ve never read straight through it. So I started 🙂
Chapter 8 of Daniel is crazy. While I was reading it, I was amazed how much prophecy it held and how much detail about the future of the region of Israel it explained. Daniel has a vision of a ram and a goat. At first I guessed part of the vision was about the Anti-Christ, described in Revelation (Revelation 13), but then I realized it’s actually a different prophecy entirely. This particular passage, Daniel 8:24-25 and the context, is actually talking about the rising of four kings, one of which will be greater than the others. The prophecy is referring to Antiochus IV and the empire of Alexander the Great. I love it when the Bible does this: it takes well-known historical characters and proves its supremacy through the prophesying and the fulfillment of prophecy concerning their lives. We’ll look at Alexander the Great.
Alexander is represented by the goat in this vision and the entirety of the Medo-Persian Empire is represented by the ram. So there’s this ram, right? It’s powerful and reigning unchallenged. Suddenly, a male goat comes from the west and completely annihilates the ram, trampling it into the ground. The goat is described as becoming exceedingly great, but when he’s strong, in his prime, his horn, which is sticking out of the middle of his head, breaks off and four horns grow in its place (Daniel 8:3-8)
Alexander (the goat) was prophesied to produce four nations (the four horns) from his empire, but not by his own power (Dan. 8:8). When Alexander died in 323 BC (when he was strong), his empire was divided up amongst four of his generals, thus producing four nations, but not of his own power. He was dead, therefore he could not control the distribution or result of distributing his power, e.g. his empire…prophecy, fulfilled. His empire reigned as four separate nations called Cassander (Macedonia, including Greece), Seleucus (Asia), Lysimachus (Thrace), and Ptolemy (Egypt).
Check this out though; Daniel was having this vision around 525 BC…none of this history would take place until nearly 200 years later. The Bible is littered with prophecies like this, showing how perfectly it all fits together. Cool? Pssh, I think yes!
Another place I looked at was Matthew chapter one. This chapter starts off with the genealogy of Jesus Christ. The best part about this (other than the obvious fact that it’s heralding the coming of our eternal savior :D) is that verse two begins with Abraham. Do you remember the story of Abraham all the way back in Genesis? I certainly do. It’s one of my favorite stories that show how God keeps His promises. In Genesis chapter twelve, God says “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing” (12:1-2, ESV). Let’s dissect this a bit. First of all, Abraham is actually named Abram, for clarification. Second of all, this promise by God, this desire to make Abram into “a great nation,” was made when the the world was still young and when Abram was seventy-five-years-old. Abram (later Abraham) has SO many doubts throughout his time in Genesis, but he follows God regardless. Now, in Matthew, God’s faithfulness and His promise-keeping skills can be shown off as we look at the great names that followed from Abraham all the way up to God incarnate. Talk about a great nation!
Moreover, after looking at this, there was another point of prophecy mentioned in Matthew taken from Isaiah, concerning the coming of Christ. It says, “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (Matthew 1:23, taken from Isaiah 7:14). This prophecy was made about 700 years prior to Christ’s coming…I mean, I’m pretty good at guessing who’s going to walk through the door, and I’m not too terrible at guessing what’s going to happen in the plot of a story, but I’m confident when I say no human being is capable of predicting something THIS life-changing and world-rocking. God was foretelling the world via Isaiah of His son’s coming, A.K.A., His coming. This is mind-blowing! This is so exciting! 😀
Okay, breaking away from the absolute awesomeness of seeing the connections between the everything of the everything of the Bible, something else caught my eye. When Joseph, Mary’s betrothed, discovered that she was pregnant, he was going to divorce her since he believed her to be unfaithful to me, but instead of divorcing her publicly, he was described as “being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly” (Matthew 1:19). Can we just clap for Joseph? Please? This is so sweet! I know it sounds weird to comment on a social practice by saying it was “sweet,” but think about it. Most guys who found out his fiancee had cheated on him would publicly disown her and leave her to be ridiculed by her family and her community. But Joseph didn’t do that; he was just, he was kind, he was loving. Joseph wasn’t betrothed to Mary by accident. No…this was a God thing. God picked Joseph specifically because He knew Joseph’s character before Joseph was even a thought or an idea.
“I seriously doubt God went through that much trouble to be sure Mary was married to the right man.”
Are you sure? He’s been tracing Abraham’s progress and genealogy throughout hundreds and hundreds of years, controlling certain aspects of time and space to make sure he’s made into a great nation and Jesus Christ is born at the exact time and place and around the exact people needed to fulfill the prophecies, to pay the dept of humanity…
I’m pretty sure He’d make sure Mary was with the right man 🙂
Once I finished my devotions (once I finished freaking out and getting insanely excited about everything I learned), I hopped out of bed and was getting ready to get dressed. I looked out the window to see if it looked cold outside (because temperature can totally be seen) and the ground was covered in snow, and more snow was coming down in a thick layer from a white sky. I shrieked and woke Lin up, pulling the blinds so the room was flooded in white light. She was just as excited as I was.
After how crazy this past weekend has been, how yesterday was, I needed something special…and God knew that.
This was more than enough for me 🙂
Word, Usage, & Style went quickly. I did my final presentation along with everyone else, and, considering the piece I had picked to present, God somehow made it about Him…it was weird…not weird as in uncomfortable but weird as in I didn’t think I would have that kind of opportunity to talk to my classmates about Him again…it was nice 🙂
I had lunch with Karly and Fly. I was studying for my Botany final later in the day, waiting for Karly, and Fly came up to my table. I asked her what she was doing and she told me she was going to get lunch. She explained to me she had just about zero meal points left and was going to get a garlic knot for lunch. I gave her a look like, “I don’t think so.” I have a ton of meal points left, so I bought her lunch. It was nice to be able to do something for someone, even though I don’t have a ton of money or means at the moment 🙂 I love it when God does that. Sometimes I feel like I don’t do enough, and I wish I could use all of my money to just do everything for everybody and throw parties for people and stuff (I know, corny, but hey)…but I know I have to use my means for other things as well, like books, subway fare, etc. So it’s really nice when God gives me a way to bless someone else in a small way 🙂
Karly came and the three of us sat and ate, talking about God, about Christmas time, about Christmas music, and about finals. I helped Karly and Fly study for Art History. I love helping people study; I get to learn things while helping them remember things they’ve already learned.
After this, I headed to Writer’s Studio. Today was the day my classmates were going to critique my revision of my spiritual allegory…I’m not gonna lie, I was really nervous. Last time I presented this story, they sort of tore it apart. I mean, I’m sort of glad they did, since it was my first time ever writing a spiritual allegory, but it was kind of scary. But the revisions made the story look similar to House by Frank Peretti or The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. When my story came up, my heart was beating out of my chest and my face was heating up.
Everybody loved it.
Everybody understood it.
Some of them talked about getting chills while reading it.
I was shocked.
At first I was afraid that nobody really got it, as in, they thought it was a great story but they didn’t get the message behind it, which I think is an unavoidable danger with writing any kind of allegory. But this message was really important; I really wanted them to get it. But then I realized that, thought nobody, that I know of, was saved because of this story, I knew a seed was planted.
And that was enough for me 🙂
This is where we move into the “well that was a stupid idea” segment of the day.
My Botany final was an hour after the end of my studio class. I feel stupid just getting ready to write this. Prior to today, I had made plans with Charlene to meet at 6:20pm to go to church to watch the children’s Christmas play along with listening to Pastor’s message. My exam started at 5:00pm. That gave me an hour and twenty minutes to complete my test.
Well, my mid-term took about that much time…and it’s open note…yeah I’ll be fine. Meanwhile my God-given common sense is absolutely screaming Hunter! Don’t be an idiot! You know how you like to take your time on tests! And it’s science, your worst subject! Don’t do it! Don’t you do it!
Well, I did it.
I sat down with my test…actually, maybe test isn’t even the right word. This thing was a novel. If I held it just the right way it could’ve been a lethal weapon. Regardless, I opened the test, prepared to power through it and make it out in time to meet up with Charlene. The first page was easy.
What is a phenotype? What is a genotype?
What is a gene? How does it relate to a chromosome?
I’m thinking that this is going to be a piece of red velvet cake from Connecticut Muffin. That’s when I get to the second page, and I’m smacked with the horrible realization that I studied all of the wrong things. Listen, I take FANTASTIC notes; my notes are one of the things I do that I will openly brag about. I made notes about things that she hinted at being on the final, did extra research on sections of the curriculum that she emphasized, and I memorized vocabulary terms and flash-carded myself to the brink of insanity. But she was asking questions about things we had only skimmed over as a class, putting me under the impression she didn’t think that information was particularly important.
Me: Um…God…this is a problem….what am I supposed to do now? I don’t know how to answer half of these questions, I’m running out of time, and I feel like I’m going to be sick.
God: Slow down. Focus.
I did slow down and focus on the questions being asked. I asked myself “If I didn’t feel like I was under pressure, would I be able to answer these questions any better?” As I flipped through the test once, twice, three times, I realized the answer was definitely “no.” The test was brutal, no matter how prepared I was or how capable and sensible I was. This was not going to be pretty.
And it wasn’t. I answered every question to the best of my ability, feeling really stupid for not having studied the right things. I almost went into some kind of anxiety attack as I handed my test to my professor and rushed out of the lab to meet Charlene. Later, while we were on the train going to church, she reassured me I would be fine, but I still felt idiotic.
Me: God, I just feel so incompetent and dumb and incapable and a complete failure.
God: It’s okay; I can still use you. You don’t have to be any of those things for Me to use you for something greater.
Oh, yeah. 🙂
This moment reminded me of when I was trying to get my license…for the third time. The first time I ever took my driver’s test, I parallel-parked into a telephone pole. The second time I took the test, I forgot how to do a K-turn. If I didn’t pass my third time, I would have to retake my five-hour course to try another three times. I sat with my mom in the car, waiting for my turn to go through the test. My heart was beating out of my chest and I couldn’t stop moving. As I sat there fidgeting, I was reminded of the simple fact that I didn’t need my license in order to get into heaven; having my license didn’t make me any less or any more of a person in God’s sight; my license wasn’t what God loved about me. If I didn’t get my license, it really wasn’t that big of a deal. And suddenly, I felt completely relaxed and ready to take the test, continuing to talk to God as my test began, as the test went on, and when the test ended. I passed 🙂
Even if I do fail my Botany final (which, I honestly don’t think I will), God can still use me. Passing my Botany final doesn’t make me look like a failure before God and it doesn’t change my status with Him. Nothing, no failure or set back (even a seemingly insignificant thing like a bad grade on a final), can change my relationship with God or change my destination after I die…nothing can take that away from me. I’m not saying this justifies my being a total stooge-face, but I am saying that I can move on and get over it because it doesn’t really matter in the long run. I’ve learned my lesson; now it’s time to move on.
The Christmas play was adorable. It was great. After everything (the play, the message, the mingling in the foyer), me and a new character went out to a diner and had a really good talk. This is Antoinette. She’s really cool 🙂 I never thought I’d have such an opportunity to get to know her and spend time with her. We walked from church to the diner and by the time we reached our destination we were frozen to the bone, or at least I was. I had worn a pencil skirt and flats WITHOUT tights.
“Well that was a stupid idea.” Tell me about it.
She treated me to hot chocolate and we split an open-faced roast beef sandwich covered in gravy, sided with steamed broccoli and French fries. As we ate, we talked about God’s grace, about evolution, and about how we just couldn’t understand how people looked at the world and failed to see so much more than a bunch of processes that happened by chance. We talked about boys, about our families, about life in general. We ended the meal with a toasted blueberry muffin smothered with butter. It was very much needed, considering the biting weather outside.
Despite the fact I had rushed through my final to get there, I was glad I had come to church, or else I wouldn’t have spent such a great, meaningful time with Antoinette. I will not, however, ever rush through a final ever again, because I can’t stand thinking about the nauseating feeling that comes afterwards…and of course because it’s academically irresponsible…ugh, that was so stupid…
ANYWAY!! I have definitely learned my lesson. God did the thing where He proves me wrong in the not-so-gentle way, but it was gentle enough to get the message across; sometimes I just need to choose what’s most important rather than what I want to do or trying to do it all.
Thank You, Jesus 🙂
“By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before Him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and He knows everything.” —1 John 3:19, 20, ESV.