Walking four miles one way to church in flip-flops is incredibly painful…but when the sun is shining and you have a friend to walk with, then it’s really not all that bad 🙂
I woke up this morning to sun streaming in through the windows, reflecting off the hardwood floors. I spent time with God, talking to Him and thanking Him for the little things, but while I’d usually feel refreshed and ready for the day after spending time with God, something felt off. Granted, I try not to pay too much attention to my feelings, but this was weird. Something was definitely off.
Karly and I met up in front of the cafeteria and started our long walk to church. Yes, it really is four miles one way. We didn’t get lost once, had great conversations, and arrived at church in plenty of time. Meaning no offense to my NYC church family, I honestly expected to get a “Oh, hi Hunter,” from all of my friends, and it would suffice. This is not at all what happened. I was greeted with love and big hugs and “Oh my goodness Hunter you’re back!” It was really cool and I truly felt loved, and being back in The City became so much more wonderful for me, as if it weren’t amazing enough.
Pastor this morning preached about not thinking too highly of ourselves, which I thought was interesting. He went to Matthew during the time when Peter denied Christ, an event following his bold claims of never denying Him. I really feel like Peter sometimes, and I know I’ve said this before but it feels like I’m always putting my foot in my mouth or talking too much or just falling flat on my face, literally. But God used Peter in amazing ways that rocked the world, theological pun intended. This gives me a lot of hope for myself, that God used Peter even though he suffered from a serious case of foot-in-mouth, so there’s no reason He can’t still use me.
After the morning service, Karly and I went to the same Indian restaurant that Grace, Rebecca, and I had gone to the year before. I even ordered the same thing, because I was craving Ka Chori…and yes, the restaurant still reminded me of the one in Seinfeld.
In the afternoon service, Pastor preached on truth and how people will try to distort and blur the truth of God. It’s interesting that he preached on this, since it’s so vital to my survival as a Christian to have God’s truth at the center of my life and to not turn to the left or to the right, but instead fix my eyes on Him and His truth.
Karly and I began walking home. She’d needed to buy a phone charger and was going to wait until we got back to campus to order one, but as we walked, I saw the exact one she needed in the window of a store. We both rejoiced in the Jesus moment and thanked Him for taking care of her…but something still felt off in my heart. Then, as we were walking, we both agreed to where tennis shoes next time because our feet were covered in blisters. Karly wished she’d bought a cheap pair of flip-flops to wear home before leaving the pharmacy we’d gone into a block or two away from church. Literally two minutes after she said this, we came upon a stand displaying all sorts of flip-flops for very low prices. Again, the Lord was caring for her with the little things, and we thanked Him together as we walked, and again something didn’t feel right.
When we arrived on campus, I went to my dorm and Karly went to hers. My heart was heavy with something I just couldn’t figure out. I prayed to God as I walked up four flights of stairs to my dorm. And when I sat down after taking a shower and eating dinner, I realized what was up: I had been putting plenty of bank on the small things God does for me without being satisfied by the big things first.
Let me explain.
Last night I wrote about how literally every good gift that you experience in life comes from God. There is no good in this life apart from Him. Period. These good gifts include the little things. But the thing is, it’s almost, I think, an insult to God to say that the little things in life that are good are the farthest visible extension of God’s love for me. In other words, I was saying, without realizing it, “God, Your love only goes as far as a nice dorm and free laundry.”
Acknowledging the small things is important but when I’m stuck on only the small things? Man! God’s love goes so much deeper than that, is so much bigger than that. It’s much like trying to love people. You can’t love others until you’ve learned to love God; you can’t truly enjoy the small things until you’ve learned to enjoy the big things.
Or, maybe I’m totally wrong and sound absolutely insane. Then you can completely ignore everything I just said.
Is it wrong to thank God for the small good things? Absolutely not. But it becomes shallow and surfacey when you’re thanking Him for the small things and not remembering the big things, like, ya know, sacrificing His one and only Son to reconcile me to Him so that He could be in a relationship with me, because my sin was the only thing in the way, loving me even though I struggle and fight and mess up and deny Him like Peter did, staying with me when I feel like everyone else has virtually walked away, and protecting me from things I can’t even see.
So, why is this year starting off so much harder than last year? I’m not sure, and I don’t know why things are already so hard spiritually, but I do know the struggle is not in vain and that God has got me covered, even though I feel insanely vulnerable. My camp supervisor had a saying that has stuck in my head since the beginning of the summer: “Hard isn’t bad, it’s just hard.”
…it’s just hard.
“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” —Romans 5:3-5, ESV