Lesson of the year: I cannot recreate what God has created in me.
First of all, it wasn’t that I had forgotten who God was…no, I am very much aware of who God is and very much aware of how very little I understand His love for me. The problem with yesterday/last night was that….well….I was lonely.
Turns out having a dorm room to yourself isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I’ve had too much time to dwell on things and too much alone time. While God is enough for me, God created me as a social human being, which means I really need someone…not romantically, but friendship-wise, I need someone to be in my business. This observation was brought about and confirmed by none other than my wonderful mother, who is always able to put things into perspective for me.
Last night, as I was experiencing a serious mental breakdown, I did the only thing I felt I could do: I called my Mama. When I called her, my father picked up the phone. While I had expected my mother, what God gave me was so much more. As I waited for Mom to get the phone, I poured my heart out to my Dad, telling him I just wanted to come home. Now, it’s known that we’re not really mushy, but at this moment, he reminded me that the only way I grow in my relationship with God is through really difficult times like the one I was experiencing.
After talking with my Mom, I realized that the problem wasn’t my being spiritually unhinged or lost, but it was me experiencing loneliness. I came to the preceding conclusion after thinking for a long time, seeing that this was true. I then realized this ruled out the favored plan of moving to Switzerland by myself and living alone forever. I guess that’s one way of God revealing His plan for my life 🙂
So I hung up with my Mom and texted Charlene to see if she wouldn’t mind staying with me for a few days this upcoming week. She responded that she was going to ask me anyway 🙂 Isn’t it neat how God works things out that way, how He takes care of me, even though I don’t deserve it?
Then I sat for a long time, just talking to God. All the while Satan kept plugging thoughts in that were hindering me. So I responded with turning on my desk lamp and reading my Bible for a while. I prayed that God would bring me someone, anyone, to live with me. As I prayed, a stirring sound came from my garbage can. I stopped. In a few moments it started again. As quietly as I could, I stretched myself over the surface of my desk so I could see the garbage can in plain view from my bed. Surely enough, there was Cedric. He’d climbed over my power strip and used the cord from my charger to get into my garbage can, where he was licking marinara sauce from an empty ravioli container. I smiled and watched him for a while, knowing that he was a pest, but savoring the way God used a pest as a blessing…and I was able to sleep.
This morning when I woke up, I tried something a little different. As of late I’ve gotten into the terrible habit of thinking “this, this, this, this, and this can’t happen because such and such a thing.” Instead of letting myself do that, I instead I thought of and wrote in my journal all of the impossible things that would happen because God can do them, and because they’re in His will, whether I believe they can happen or not.
I got ready for church and headed to meet up with Alex and Taylor (another writing major, who’s a Christian, who I can’t remember if you’ve met or not….well, you’ll her again, because she’s wonderful :)) to have breakfast. We were running late when we sat down with our food (I splurged and grabbed French toast sticks, bacon, potatoes, and a banana…it was very satisfying….mostly because of the bacon :D), but I decided I wouldn’t worry. This was a great opportunity to spend time with other Christians on campus, which rarely happened. I was putting the time in God’s hands and I was done with worrying about it.
Surely enough, as we walked into Sunday school, we discovered that most of the people weren’t there yet and the teaching hadn’t even come close to starting, even though we were late. Thank You, Jesus 🙂
Sunday school was refreshing, but what happens next was astounding. As we sat in church and Duston preached on the book of first John. As he preached, he focused on chapter two, verses one and two at the beginning. This is what it says: “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”
He described our situation like this: Satan, Jesus, and God are up in the heaven discussing my fate. Satan is bringing up every single terrible thing I have ever done, producing every reason why I don’t deserve this chance to be reconciled to God, to know Him. Jesus is on the opposite side, saying “You’re right, you’re right, you’re right, but I’m righteous and I am begging You to take My payment of her sins.” God slams the hammer down and says: “Guilty…
And as I sat there in the pew, I was hit hard in the chest with the realization of what I’d been doing, why I’d felt like nothing I ever did concerning God felt one-hundred percent right: I cannot recreate what God has created in me.
I had been trying to create the passion and the fire and the love and the peace that God creates in me. But I’m incapable of producing peace. I’m incapable of making my heart stir by the simple pressing of a button. Faith is not a faucet I can turn on and off. Christianity is not a religion, a system, or a To-Do list…it’s a relationship. I can’t do something in order to create a supernatural reaction. I can’t bring forth what only the one true God can bring forth in me.
While I sat there and heard the words “Guilty, but pardoned,” my heart stirred with the Holy Spirit, and I became aware of how very real God is, and how very fake I am. It’s so reassuring to me, that I am not part of a religion in which I have to create peace or obtain fake peace, where I have to push for faith and hope. God is real. He’s so real it’s overwhelming. I began to cry and my chest began to vibrate with joyful laughter. I had never felt that way before.
The rest of the day was wonderful, and I could really enjoy it, because I realized what was wrong and was reminded that this God is the real thing…there’s nothing I can do to merit His grace or produce His peace. It’s on Him and Him alone, and alone can He stand with His word and His righteousness.
After this, Adham and I went to this place called Cinco De Mayo, which makes authentic Mexican burritos the size of my sneaker. As we were getting ready to leave, I was able to cover the tip. Ever since I read an article about a preacher not tipping his waiter because he’d “given it to God that morning,” I always try to tip generously. Besides, it’s all God’s anyway, and I love having the opportunity to give people something. Also, it’s the one area of life that God tells us to test Him on. So I’m going to.
The afternoon service was amazing as well, and I wouldn’t have been able to receive if the morning service hadn’t woken me up, if God hadn’t brought me back to Him. The sermon was about knowing what we’re made of, about how we don’t really know what we’re made of until everyone else is moving in one direction while we’re moving in another. It kind of reminded me of the quote, “You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.” It made me realize how blessed I was that God had provided me with a church family who encouraged me and reminded me who God is and how He sees me and how real it all is, how uniquely legitimate.
I left the afternoon service feeling at peace. Grace, Rebecca (yes, Rebecca, I’m talking about how A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. you are :P), Jenny, and I all went to a little place called the Windsor Cafe. On top of trying to be frugal, I was still full from the half of a burrito I’d eaten for lunch, so I didn’t get anything. I tried some of Rebecca’s bruschetta and Grace’s pizza, and both of them were good. But I honestly didn’t even notice the food or that anyone was eating, because our discussions were so wonderful and relaxed and, well, girly 🙂 I think men and women really value and need those times of fellowship with JUST other men and JUST other women, because there are certain things you can talk about with women that you just can’t talk about with men. Same goes for guys. Also, there are some things that just aren’t appropriate to talk about with the opposite sex, but that’s for a completely different blog post.
We finished our time together and I hopped on the subway to head home. Now, on the ride back to Pratt when you take the G train, there’s a part where you go above ground and you can see New York City all the way from the Freedom Tower to the Statue of Liberty, the suburbs to the projects. You can see everything.
Lately I’ve been entertaining the irrational fear of being “stuck” in New York City for the rest of my life. Well, tonight, when I looked out the window and saw the city lit up the way it’s shown only in movies, I realized that I live in New York City. I LIVE IN NEW YORK CITY. There are people who dream about living here. People come here on vacation…and I get to live here. I was reminded of how absolutely blessed I am to live in such an amazing city, where everything is available to me and where there are people who love me and I have plenty of places to stay. God loves me….so much.
The last amazing thing that happened tonight was, as I was walking back to my dorm, just thinking about how blessed I am, despite everything, I looked down on the ground and saw a bunch of bills folded up…right there on the ground. I stopped and stared at them for a while…and then I looked up at the sky. There was no one around and no one was looking for the money, so I picked it up. Well, actually, first I kicked it, just to make sure someone wasn’t trying to play a joke on whoever picked it up….then I picked it up and thanked God, remembering that I’d tested Him on money today…and He came through, again.
So I think it’s safe to say that God knows what He’s doing. He orchestrated everything: from Charlene to Duston, from Taylor and Alex to Adham, and from money to girl time. Oh! Speaking of girl time (don’t worry guys who are reading this, I’m not going to gross you out), I had wanted to sign up for a spot in a Bible study that Pastor’s wife was teaching. It’s Breaking Free by Beth Moore. I NEED girl time in the Word; it’s one thing I seriously miss about home. When I first asked Duston about it, he had told me it might be full but if I contacted Pastor’s wife about it then maybe she’d take an extra person. I decided I would when I returned to my dorm.
After the afternoon service, however, Duston told me that my spot in the study was solid: all I had to do was bring in the money for it, which God totally gave to me already….yeah, so God loves me and He knows what I need. The Bible study meets on nights when I don’t have classes. The other Bible study that meets on Thursdays at Maria and Sam’s house also takes place on nights when I don’t have classes…also, I think I’ll be spending the day with Jenny next Saturday…
God loves me 🙂 and He’s got an amazing plan for me that I can’t even imagine. He’s so much more than I thought He ever was…He knows EXACTLY (not sort of, ball park, whatever, but EXACTLY) what I need. God produces a peace in me that I can’t find anywhere else…He gives me friends and family and relationships and love so that I can see Him blessing me and building me up so I can do what I need to do…so I can obey and love and cherish Him. He rescued me…again! Oh my gosh God loves me so much…wow. He’s just….yeah 🙂
“And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete…My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for our sins only but also for the sins of the whole world.” —1 John 1:4, 2:1,2, ESV