Yesterday afternoon I wondered what the word “veteran” should mean to a patriot, and I wondered how soldiers feel when someone comes up to them and thanks them for serving their country. I mean no disrespect, but do they feel awkward? Do they feel honored? Do they feel important? I thought about their importance, about the awesomeness of soldiers, about the code they live by, about their dedication to training themselves to be protectors of our great country. I wondered if just anyone could be a soldier.
Last night I watched Beth Moore give a message to thousands of women about David, about how when he and the people of Israel were bringing the ark of the covenant back to Israel, when Uzzah accidentally touched the ark and God struck him dead, David became scared to death of Him, saying “Why would You do that?”
This morning I was reminded that sleep is important and I got a better idea of what it might feel like to wake up after spending the night in the desert.
Today I realized that I can handle it much better when people reject me than when they like me, which is a serious problem that I’m not really sure how to fix and I’m not sure where to begin to look for it in scripture. Because when people reject you, you don’t usually worry about impressing them or trying to keep their opinion of you, but when someone likes you as a friend or more than a friend, things suddenly become complicated. But I think it’s fear, and like all fear, God demands me to give it to Him so that He can vanquish it.
Tonight I discovered the quiet thrill of riding my bike through Prospect Park at night, an experience I thought would be frightening but that was actually relaxing and wonderful, because at night there are no people in the park, or at least very few, and it feels kind of like home, only bigger. I also was reminded of how refreshing it is to sit with a group of women older than I, talking about God’s word and getting excited about our discoveries and loving every moment of it, savoring it, and then seeing how precise and perfect God wrote everything through the hand of man.
And now I’m sitting here, thinking about all of these things, how there have been and are things in my life where I’m looking up at the ceiling and saying “God, why would You do that?”, how much I desire to just sit with a group of women and talk about God’s word with them over tea, Bible’s open, heart’s open, ears open, how I’d almost stayed in tonight instead of going to church because I was afraid my bike lights weren’t attached correctly and I’d be arrested (I know, irrational), and how a lot of the things I’d worried about during the day and even last night are all ridiculous and God is bigger than all of it.
I stayed up until about three in the morning working on my novel, because my brain wouldn’t shut off and sleep wasn’t talking to me. You might as well have called me butter, because I was on a roll. I spent a total of five hours working, and went to sleep exhausted, not thinking about my alarm set for eight in the morning.
Now, I’m so grateful that my dorm room has heat, that we have a radiator to keep us warm during the increasingly cold nights. Unfortunately, however, during the night the radiator decides to play “Disco Inferno” and light up the dance floor. Basically, it turns the room into a sauna.
This morning when my alarm went off, I woke up drenched in sweat, nauseated, dehydrated, and fatigued. I crawled out and tried to focus on Bible Study, but I kept waking up with my head on my desk. I tried to go back to sleep. Tried to wake up. Tried to go to sleep. Nine o’clock came around; I had class in an hour and I still felt like I was about to be sick. I emailed my professor and told him I wouldn’t be going to my morning class.
A couple of hours later, I woke up still feeling nauseated and lightheaded, not entirely sure how to fix it. So I once again crawled out of my bed, slowly, and sat at my desk to do my Bible Study. I sipped water and talked to God about what I was thinking, and going through my Bible Study. At one point I found myself reading Philippians 4:11-13, which says:
“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”
This verse kind of reminds me of the scene in Fireproof, staring Kirk Cameron, when Kirk’s friend Michael is talking about marriage vows, and how when people get married and say “for better or for worse,” most times they only mean for the better. I wondered why I, at least at this point, was limited by the existence of the better or lack there of. I wondered why it was so difficult for me to face the unknown without worry. Granted, God is totally growing me, especially in the last month or so concerning the future. But why was “being brought low” met with such resistance in my heart?
Maybe that was the point.
Soon after I finished talking to God, after my head stopped spinning and all that was left was fatigue, I changed and left to go eat some real food. I met up with Karly and we sat and ate cheeseburgers in the cafeteria, talking about God, about upcoming trips, about Thanksgiving, and about everything else.
Today in Studio I had to read my short story aloud, as usual. But in this particular story, which ended up being a section of my novel, the protagonist falls, hard, found in an inappropriate state with an antagonist. Granted, she’s redeemed and her honor is restored, but still, it’s hard to see your main character make such a poor decision. I would try and explain what this feels like, but I’m not sure how crazy I already sound, so I’ll refrain.
Anyway, during Studio, when my classmates were discussing the prospect of the protagonist being redeemed, rescued, even, since she was helpless to do anything herself, the earlier discussed topic of feminism came up. Earlier in the class, my professor had wondered why in our class it was customary for one group conversation to segway into six other smaller conversations. While everyone offered different conclusions, I stated that it was simply because the class was composed mostly of women.
There was a small moment of tension in the air, though that wasn’t my intention, to bring about tension with my statement. It was just true. Ladies, we just like to talk. About everything. All the time. And that’s okay. Guys like to talk too, some guys like to talk a lot, but most guys aren’t really big talkers, at least not in the way women are. I like looking at the differences between men and women, like this one, and seeing how different God made us. One of my other favorite differences is how we think. With women, it seems like every thought is connected in one way or another, while guys seem to be have a much more one-track mind. Of course, I might be entirely wrong, but from what I’ve seen, this seems to be the case. And it’s kind of cool 🙂
The discussion of feminism came up and my professor led it, asking some of my classmates if they were feminist or not feminist, not menacingly, just because he seemed to be genuinely curious. I must’ve made an odd face because he then asked if I thought feminism was a topic worth being discussed.
I paused before speaking. Now, this was an odd question, I thought. He wasn’t asking if I thought it was a topic worth being pursued, or applied, or anything along those lines, just if it was worth discussing. In that light, I did think it was worth discussing, if only to see why it was wrong, why feminism goes against God’s intention for women and for men, bringing about the exposition of the fallacy behind gender neutral roles and so on and so forth. It was also worth discussing if both points of view were going to be considered, though I wasn’t sure if that’s what he was asking. Then, there was the thought of feminism in relation to the importance of salvation: was it a blood issue as opposed to an ink or pencil issue? I decided not. I wasn’t about to get into an argument about feminism when that seemed more of a surface issue, though certainly an important one to discuss in a different setting. So I smiled, and said “no.”
And he left it at that, and we began with the critiques.
I’m beginning to wonder if I’ll ever master the short story or if my hands are perpetually married to the structure of the novel. I’m perfectly okay if all I ever write are novels, or even, should God will it, if I never use my writing degree to write anything, or if I write something else. I did wonder though after today’s critique.
After Studio, I walked back to the dorm, talking to God and starting in on some homework.
I went to German, and then left to go to church. Although I still felt fatigued from the episode this morning, I really needed to talk to other Christians.
I decided to clip the taillight that wouldn’t attach to my bike onto the top handle of my backpack. I’m learning the importance and purpose of the lights: the front is obviously to let people know you’re coming, people meaning actual people, vehicles, and other bicyclists. The back, however, is to show cars behind you that you’re there, since reflectors only do so much. I realize this might be obvious, but it’s all new to me. Including this, I’ve also learned the importance of gears and lack there of. My bike has only one gear, which makes traversing the hilly city streets, which I’d ignorantly presupposed to be flat, much more of a challenge, but I’ve always loved a challenge 😛
Going through the park, along the streets, between cars and crosswalks was another adventure, an awesome one. While, as I said before, I thought going through the park at night would be frightening, it was indeed a wonderful change of pace, and I enjoyed the silence, the solitude, the time to just think and pedal and pray and wonder. I still haven’t gotten used to not being able to see the stars at night, but the night itself was calm and cool and beautiful in its own way 🙂
I arrived at church on time and was reminded through the sermon that Satan isn’t always responsible for my mishaps. While he definitely the enemy, he uses my own flesh, my own sinful nature. My sins aren’t always provoked. Sometimes, because I’m human and imperfect and selfish and flawed, my heart chooses sin over obedience, and it suffers the consequences. This manifests itself in my fear and my worry.
While I was sitting with Laura, Heidi, Rosy, and Precilla, we talked about the sermon and how we could apply it to our lives and what it meant for us as daughters of the High King. We studied James 4:7, which is “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
A lot of times, at least in my own relationship with Christ, I always lean on the “resist” part, but sometimes forget about the “submit” part. We looked at the context of the verse to get a better understanding of what it meant. What does submitting to God in a situation where we’re being attacked by Satan look like?
“But He (God) gives more grace. Therefore it says, ‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.” (v.6-8)
So, God via Paul puts all of this right in order for us to understand exactly what He means when He asks us to submit before resisting. The thing is, as humans, we’re completely incapable of fighting off temptation and defeating the enemy. We’re just not powerful enough. That’s way, in James chapter four, Christ says via Paul to submit first, and then to resist Satan, because without bowing out of our pride and letting God be our ultimate refuge, then we’re helpless. When we resist, we’re stepping away from something, or pushing it away. Submitting to God before resisting means stepping away and into His arms, pushing against while He’s pushing with us. We cannot push on our own, and we’ll fall backwards trying to step away without Him to catch us. There’s a reason why God is the one who provides us with the way of escape in 1 Corinthians 10:13.
Talking with this wonderful group of ladies and getting excited about this study of God’s word made me think of my talks with Beth and Hannah when I’d visit there house throughout the year, and I began to think about the road trip coming up, during which we’d have time to talk and catch up. I miss them very much.
After church I talked to Jenny and some other people and then headed home, have a whole van-full of my friends yell “BYE HUNTER” as I rode away, and I felt loved 🙂 The ride back was quiet. The one perpetually ginormous hill that I have to face on the way back was easier to manage, as it had been becoming over time.
In Grand Army Plaza, there’s an arc that looks like the L’Arc De Triomphe in France, and at night the arc is lit up with a deep violet light, the statue sitting atop the flat surface glowing copper green. I’ve passed it several times when Sam and Maria would drive me home, but tonight, as I rode underneath its light, I was struck once again by how magnificent the sight was 🙂
When I got back to campus, I headed to the dorm, entered in, grabbed a shower, and changed into comfortable clothes.
The thing about the “why would you do that?” moments with God.
David, after the happening with Uzzah, in the next chapter said this:
“See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells in a tent” (v. 2). Now, in this Bible Study I’m doing, Beth Moore brought up a truth about good ideas. Sometimes, good ideas are good, but they’re just not part of the will of God for your life. I know I continuously tried to get jobs on campus all year last year and even at the beginning of this semester, and yet every door shut as I watched all of my classmates get campus occupations without a problem, even though they were less qualified than I. Although my intentions were pure in wanting a job (to be responsible, to provide for myself, to not have to sometimes depend on the generosity of others), God had something different in mind. I don’t know what He plans on doing for the rest of my life, but I know that right now He’s teaching me something very important in depending on Him financially. I don’t know why, or how He’s going to use it, but this is just one example of how, and I’m quoting Beth Moore, “a good idea isn’t always a God idea.”
Anyway, David desires to build a house for the Lord, but in the following verses, God tells David very bluntly that “the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house” (v. 12), and this is after telling David He’ll provide for his family. The Lord then goes on to tell David He’ll establish his line forever, that He’ll discipline but never forsake (v. 13-16).
And then, King David goes in to God, just him and the Lord, and just sits before him, and says, “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house that You have brought me thus far? And yet this was a small thing in Your eyes, O Lord God. You have spoken also of Your servant’s house for a great while to come, and this is instruction for mankind, O Lord God!” (v. 18-19, ESV)
The Amplified version of the Bible says “And this is the law for man, O Lord God!” So, after witnessing God striking down a man for an irreverent act concerning the ark of God, and then after witnessing God’s graciousness, His expression of His desire to do something for David rather than the other way around, to establish his throne forever, to love him forever, to correct and grow and challenge his line in ways David never could’ve imagined, he falls to his knees before God, asking “Is this how You usually are?” Are You, God, usually this awesome, this magnificent, this generous with man? Is this really the way it’s going to be?
I just…sometimes I forget about all the things that God wants to do because I get so caught up in what I want to do, or what I want to try to do for Him. I forget that while God does require much of me, since I am His daughter, and while He does challenge me and grow me with everything He can, He also loves me and wants to bless me, if I would just step back, submit to Him, and let Him go first. If I would just be patient. God very rarely just gifts us with patience, ya know? 😛 It always seems that He presents us with opportunities to be patient when being patient seems to be the most difficult and impossible thing to do on the planet in the history of difficulties.
Me: I just want things to happen. I want things to move. I want to see change.
God: Hunter, I need you to be still and remember who I am. I need you to know I have everything under control. I need you to know you don’t have to worry and that you can lean on Me. Be patient.
And so I’ll wait. And I’ll be patient. With all I can and by the grace of God I will be patient.
I think I know what the word “veteran” should mean to a patriot, or maybe have a small inkling as to what it might mean.
I remember when I was little and I used to ride around with my dad in his pick up truck we’d listen to Toby Keith. Toby sang this song called “American Soldier” and I’ve never forgotten it. The thing about soldiers is they’re fighting for people that they’ll never meet, for people who never know the true sacrifices they’ve had to make. I don’t think that just anyone can be a soldier. I don’t think that just anyone can strap on a blast suit and disarm an IED. I don’t think that just anyone can be as brave and courageous as a soldier, as the young men and women that sweat and bleed to keep our country safe. This is probably one of many Veterans Day speeches you’ve read today, or at least I hope it is. Regardless, thank the soldiers you see on the subway, in the street, at the airport, on your way to work. They fight for you so that you don’t have to fight for yourself. Pray for them, for their protection, for their growth, for their strength, and remember that freedom is never free.