God does this really cool thing where He just does stuff. I know that seems like a rather nonsensical statement, but really. There are times in life when you just decide to give everything up to God and don’t expect things to go either way (if you’ve been waiting for something to happen in a certain area of life) and instead decide to be satisfied either way. And then, just when you’ve settled your mind and you’re at peace with whatever God does with the decision or the event or whatever, He turns your world upside down and does something magnificently surprising.
Last night was one of those nights (which I never have) where I just didn’t sleep. At all. I don’t know why I was so awake, but I was. My mind was busy I suppose. Regardless, I had the energy to do everything I normally do in the morning and keep focus. This morning in my devotional, Shannon Ethridge said this: “Rather than waste our energies throwing stones at those who lack integrity, let us invest our energies in modeling integrity, as well as praising others who do the same.”
Titus 2:7,8 says “Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.”
Before I go further, I want to define ‘integrity.’ According to the Encarta World English Dictionary, ‘integrity’ means “possession of firm principles; the quality of possessing and steadfastly adhering to high moral principles or professional standards.” Another definition, also from Encarta, is “completeness; wholeness; the state of being sound or undamaged.”
For a long time, I thought ‘integrity’ was just another word for ‘character,’ so seeing this definition shed quite a bit of light on the subject. The verse in Titus is charging the readers (both then and now) to walk in integrity and dignity, in a way that if someone were to ever condemn you or try to speak badly of you, no one would believe them, because your speech is sound and your walk is solid. Now, I want to clarify: this does not mean we’re charged to be perfect or to depend on good works to get us along. Rather, we have to remember Who we’re empowered by, why we’re dignified and characterized by integrity, not because we, in our innateness, possess even a sliver of integrity or dignity, but because God has given us His divine characteristics and is conforming us to Him as we walk in His way.
I thought this was interesting, especially paired up with what Ethridge said about integrity, about deliberately focusing our energy on promoting integrity rather than bashing those without it. Does that mean we condone dishonesty and unsound speech? No. But it does mean that we seek out those who are trying to follow God to the best of their ability, we come along side a brother or sister in Christ and build them up and encourage them in the way they’re walking, rather than seeking out those outside of the faith and condemning them for the sins they’re committing…honestly, that’s not our job, if you will, as Christians, as children of God. Christ, during His earthly ministry, told His twelve disciples that the world would know that they belonged to Him by their love for each other (John 13:35). His words are no less true now than they were during that time.
Am I saying we should only love other Christians and no one else? Well definitely not! But I am saying that it can be easy to fall into the nasty habit of spending a lot of time with nonbelievers and silently or even openly judging them. God is the ultimate judge. Also, why should we expect nonbelievers to adhere to the law of liberty when they have no relationship with its Author? (1 Corinthians 2:14)
After my time with God, I got changed and did all that lovely morning stuff, wrote and turned in a paper, then headed out to have lunch with Karly. As I sat outside, waiting for her to come for lunch, I enjoyed the sunshine and just the awesomeness of the day. One girl who’d been in my dorm last year, with whom I’d often participated in spiritual discussions, came up to me, and we had a hard conversation…yeah, it was hard. But afterwards, I couldn’t help but feel honored and privileged that she talked to me, even if things in her life didn’t change, it was still cool.
Karly and I went and grabbed lunch, chilling outside, occasionally getting attacked by bees and some mammoth winged black bug. We talked about the differences between the Lutheran and Baptist church, which was good because I’d been unclear and wanted to really know her perspective. We talked about homework and things and such. It was a very encouraging and refreshing lunch 🙂
I returned to my dorm, ready to take on my mountain of homework, and yes, I do mean mountain. I feel like a To Do list, or at least my lists, are similar to loads of laundry: no matter how many times you do laundry, there’s always more laundry. It’s like the clothes replicate while in the hamper, waiting to be washed and dried. To Do lists just never end. But it’s okay. I like the challenge 😀
Later in the afternoon (after a much needed nap), I was scanning through my email and there was a message from the literary agency that interviewed me.
I got the internship 🙂
This is the thing (among many other things that have been happening since school started) that reminded me that God has everything under control, that when I just go forward with Him, regardless of the outcome of things, He works amazingly. When I just cooperate and trust Him and believe He is who He says He is and just continue on in that, I grow up a little more. Why can’t I think this way all the time? Well, because I’m human, and I’m, well, yeah, human.
I’ll be going to the agency on Fridays, the day during the week I don’t have any class. In addition, I’ll be editing and looking and ‘judging’ at least one manuscript a week, which, after hearing the different things they’d included in my work load during the interview, is really amazing.
So things are changing…weirdly. Things I honestly, totally, 100% did not expect to happen are happening and I’m not really sure how to react. Right now, I’m just going to take them as blessings, as further proof of God’s guidance and sovereignty over my life. 🙂
“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” —John 15:4,5, ESV