There are times in life when I feel so frustrated with myself and with my situation and I constantly pray to God to tell me what to do…even though I know exactly what I need to do. I sometimes keep on asking God what I’m supposed to do, because I sometimes don’t like His answer and I’m secretly hoping He’ll change His mind if I just keep asking.
This endeavor has never been successful.
This morning I woke up and felt the creaking and achiness of my body, being reminded that I had gone rock-climbing over the weekend and had worked out intensely the night before. I grabbed my Bible and my devotional and went into the lounge to talk to and hang out with God. I just needed to be with Him, no noise, no distractions, no movement of any kind.
I told Him about how I was struggling with pride still. I prayed a little while ago, during Christmas break I think, to hit me so hard that any pride I could possibly muster was knocked right out of me. I hate feeling prideful, because I’m fully conscious of the fact that I’m putting myself above God and adopting the uncalled-for audacity of being perfect and more capable of ruling my life than God. I hate it, but I’m human, and it still gets me.
It was really nice this morning, my time with Him. I mean, my time with Him is almost always refreshing (I say almost because sometimes my big head or my doubt and distress get in the way), but this morning it was especially wonderful. I was just vulnerable before Him, able to feel like an idiot before Him, able to show how distressed I felt about my own human condition, able to reveal my worries and my pains, my irritations and my temptations, and expect Him to be able to bear it all, as He’s borne all my sin.
I almost, for a second, felt haughty because of how beautiful God thinks I am…I almost felt arrogant for not worrying and not overreacting about my future and about the unknown…but how dare I be haughty about something I have absolutely nothing to do with? I have done nothing to merit God’s adoration. I have done no amount of wonderful things that is worthy of His love and grace. I am completely broken.
I worry about the future, I worry about what people think of me, I worry that I’m not doing enough in all areas of life, I worry that if I don’t look totally spotless on the outside then maybe people will think “Oh, she must not be a Christian because she has this flaw or that flaw.” But honestly, when it comes right down to it, none of these worries make God any less than He is. All they do is show me exactly why He should be in charge and why I should sit back and let Him do what He wants. He knows what to do! He knows what’s going to happen! He’s fully capable of leading me in the right direction without my input. I, however, am a broken GPS running on spoiling battery acid.
God takes the frustrating, disturbing, broken, and lame and limping parts of me and brings them to the surface, sifts them out of me, until the only thing that’s left is a love for Him and an unexplainable, supernatural joy and an enduring peace that no one and nothing else can give me. And, honestly, He’s the only one worth giving everything to. He’s the only one who can take care of everything the way it’s supposed to be. People will always let you down, no matter how well-meaning or pure they may be, but God will never, ever leave you hanging.
Yes, never. One of those absolute words. God will NEVER leave you hanging.
He’ll bring you through impossible odds, drive you to your knees, refine you and purify you until you feel like He’s pulling out your teeth, but He will never let you go through all of these and not have you get something out of them. He will make you beautiful through these things, through every struggle, through every fire.
“But He knows the way that I take; when He has tried me, I shall come out as gold.” —Job 23:10
God knows what the deal is. He sees what you’re going through. He knows everything that irritates you, attracts you, overwhelms you, tempts you, and on and on. He knows EVERYTHING there is to know about you and then some. And He wants you to be a bright and shining gold version of yourself by the end of it.
I left the lounge feeling much better, having been reminded that my life and my actions don’t depend on me…oh I’m so glad this is the case. I’m so glad I don’t have to depend on myself for salvation, for peace, for understanding, for self-control, for determination. I’m so glad God loves me, so glad He gives me access to all of His amiable and majestic traits to help me be gracious when graciousness is not the popular state of mind, to be understanding when anger is easy to express, to be patient when time is pressed.
Oh thank God.
Word, Usage, & Style went by, and I learned that I really like George Perec’s writing 🙂 It was refreshing to read a secular author and enjoy and appreciate their work without being so distracted by the content. I like Word, Usage, & Style class because my professor zeroes in on little details like the specific placement of one comma, the use of semicolons, word choice, and the meter and beat of a sentence. It’s really helpful and fun 🙂 I love grammar. It’s amazing.
I was able to eat lunch outside again today, even though it was a little cooler than yesterday. I ate vegan pizza and an orange for lunch. Vegan pizza is actually really delicious. At first I didn’t think anything vegan could taste like real food, but vegan pizza is yummy 🙂 especially when it’s stacked with roasted vegetables 😀
Studio, as usual, was really helpful. Before Studio, all of us were standing outside of class, waiting for our professor to come. Marcy walked up to our group with tears in her eyes, her face swollen. I knew she hadn’t been feeling well for a while for different reasons, but I wasn’t sure why she was so distraught. Different people asked if she was okay, and when she told them she was fine they’d walk away.
Holy Spirit: Hunter, go talk to her.
Me: I’m sure she’s just in some pain today. She’ll be fine.
Holy Spirit: You say you want people to know your God. This lost child is standing in front of you, broken. You know what you need to do.
I stood up from my spot on the floor and went to talk to her, God quieting my heart and putting aside all of the harsh things Marcy’s ever said to me, removing from my memory all of the times we’d butted heads, so that all I could see was her, crying, needing some kind of relief. We talked for a little bit until she was laughing and smiling again. We walked into class and she talked a lot, voicing her opinions and seeming more like herself.
God does this thing where He causes how you see people to completely dissolve, replacing it with how He sees them. And suddenly it doesn’t matter what their character is, or their personality, or how you know them. God doesn’t characterize my relationship with Him by what I’ve done, where I’ve been, what I have, or who I am. All He does is ask me to follow and to trust Him, and it’s through this that He changes my heart.
I don’t have all the answers. I can’t say the perfect words or offer the perfect condolences or bits of advice. I can’t heal Marcy. I can’t heal anyone. Only God can. I’m just the instrument…sometimes I depend too much on my own eloquence (or lack there of) and on my own intelligent and skill that I forget God’s the One who gave me those talents in the first place. God gave me talent so He could use them to reach those who are broken, so He could show me just how powerful He is and how He can use anything in anyone to reach the world.
And it’s then I realize just how small I am.
I went to Bible Study tonight and learned a lot. I was reminded that aggravation and irritation are not the same as tribulation. Tribulation is “this could very well destroy me,” while aggravation is “that just irks me.” I have experienced both. Hearing this made me look back at the months past, the frustrations I experienced both in the first and also the second semester of my freshman year of college. There were times when it was tribulation, an overwhelming sense of discouragement that I thought would send me running with my tail stuck between my legs. There’s always aggravation, but God stabilizes it….I don’t know how in the world He’s able to stabilize my psychotic emotions, but He does.
The beginning of freshman year, I think, was difficult partly because of the culture shock, the overwhelming change from country to city. The other part was just plan spiritual warfare. Satan was, and most certainly still is, determined to trip me up, to make sure I didn’t make it through the first semester, much less all four years here at Pratt. Even though there’s only a little over a month left of college, and there’s seems to be too small of an amount of time for Satan to do anything major, I don’t doubt he’s waiting like a prowling lion to destroy me.
I know, I know it sounds intense and maybe even a little crazy. But it’s so true.
This Present Darkness by Frank Peretti, while it’s extremely subjective in its theology and fictional standpoint, just reminds me that I am in the middle of a war, that I do have an enemy, and that he is planning the demise of every Christian brother and sister out there, including me. It would be a sad, sad thing for me to allow myself to be ignorant of the darker side of the world, and then be completely blindsided by Satan and temptation and all of that nonsense.
After class, Edward offered to walk me to the train, and I let him. It was past nine and I didn’t want to walk in the dark by myself, so it was a God thing. We talked about tea, church, and the demoralization of women via feminism. It was a good talk and he had a lot of encouraging things to say.
I returned to the dorm after a long train ride, some deep thinking, and a talk with God as I’d walked along the sidewalks beneath softly falling snow. Everyone I passed seemed to be upset it was snowing in March, but as I watched the snow fall and glint off the streetlamps, I saw just how beautiful it was. This reminded me again of how capable and skilled God is in the art of turning terrible things, frustrating things, into something beautiful 🙂
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me (Jesus), because the Lord has anointed me….to grant to those who mourn in Zion—to give them a beautiful headress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” —Isaiah 61:3, ESV