I’ve been wondering all day what the shepherds were talking about before the angels appeared in the night sky on the night of Jesus’ birth. I also wondered what in the world Elijah was thinking while he ran beside the chariot. I also wondered what Paul and Barnabas talked about as they traveled to Antioch. What did they do in everyday life? Just a thought 🙂
Today I was reminded of how warped my mind is, how lost my entire perspective of life is without Christ’s influence. I remembered how difficult it is to function in the “real world” without Him and not be overwhelmed by the hopelessness of it all or put too much pressure on myself to save it. I know that sounds really, like, dramatic, but look around. I can’t go to the gym without seeing news stories of children being kidnapped, molested, beaten to death, or watching as ISIS beheads and executes innocent people, or watching celebrities as they’re torn apart by the words and actions of their “admirers.” I can’t even step outside of my dorm without being arrested by vulgarity and temptation to be discouraged. And it might not even be the people I see, the things I hear in passing, the events I witness. It might just be my own heart. Either way, there’s no way to run away from the fact that humanity it lost in itself, and, as it has been for all of eternity, it needs a savior. The Savior. Not Emma Swan from “Once Upon A Time.” I’m talking about THE Savior, the one who loves more deeply than you could ever imagine, the one who knows the pattern of the veins on the underside of your skin and the deepest darkest gnarliest thoughts you’ve ever entertained, the one who changed the entire course of history because of who He is, shifted the universe under His hand and rescues the heart of man from the heart itself. That Savior. THE Savior.
Today after French, after Forum, I sat down in my dorm and talked to God. I told Him that I’d been doing all of these things to keep myself encouraged: I’d been studying His word, listening, watching, reading all of the right things, the pure things to keep my mind focused on Him, communicating with other Christians and bouncing situations off of them to better understand what to do, bringing everything to Him, telling Him everything, and yet I still wake up knowing that I’ll be fired up and strong in my dorm room, but the moment I leave Esther-Lloyd Jones dormitory I’m going to nearly be crushed by discouragement, frustration, confusion, and worry.
Of course, my first reaction is to blame God. God, why would You let this happen? God, why can’t I just be victorious? Why do I feel this way? Why am I struggling so much? What’s the problem? How do I recover? How do I fix it? How do I go back to the way things were?
Truth is, things will never go back to the way they were. God never intended for me to plateau in my relationship with Him, never intended for me to just reach a point of growth and just stop. I’ve been wanting to preserve one stage of my relationship with Him because I’m convinced it’s the best…
But this is where I get in the way.
All throughout God’s word, He lays out a plan for change in the life and heart and mind of the believer, and my trying to hold on to one span of time isn’t realistic. I mean, just look at His word. 2 Corinthians 3:18 says that we “are being transformed into the same image (of the glory of the Lord), from one degree of glory to another.” And just a chapter later it says “So we do not lost heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day” (4:16). God intended to change me. He doesn’t want me to stay the same. I know I say this a lot, but here it is again: God accepts me as I am, but He loves me way too much to let me stay there.
I don’t want things to change. But at the same time, I have confidence that God knows the future and I don’t, and even though, in my heart, the unknown seems so huge, and my God seems so small, I know that He’s bigger than this. I know that He’s bigger than what I’m worried about, than what I’m anticipating, than the burden I’m trying to bear. I might not feel that way, but it’s true nonetheless.
I also have been burdened by the idea that I am responsible for the salvation of everyone I come in contact with and that if no one comes to Christ then my time here has been an absolute failure. But sometimes I forget (and God totally used a conversation I had with Jacob about this exact thing to remind me of the truth) that it’s not my responsibility to save people. I cannot, by my own power or presence, save people. It’s my responsibility to plant seeds, to push people and direct them to Christ with my life, with my example, with my relationship with Him and His glory manifesting itself in my life. Right.
So I’m sitting here, remembering the point of it all, and feeling rather doofus-like for making things so much more complicated than they actually are. I forgot that Christ has promised me victory in Him and that so long as I’m trying, I can’t fail. I’m going to have set backs and face difficulty, and I’m going to get discouraged, but I never stay that way, because Christ is my ultimate goal, the focal point on my horizon.
I’m so glad that God doesn’t give up on me. I would give up on me. Not trying to be pessimistic, but, quite honestly, I would. But He hasn’t. Doesn’t. Never will. Why? What would compel Him do invest in me so much? Why would He sacrifice so much for me and give so much for me and strive to grow and protect and strengthen and let me go and then bring me back? Why would He be so patient with me when I’m so absolutely impatient with Him? Why would He pursue me so fiercely when I’m constantly running away from Him in my own flesh?
And yet He stays. He stays with me.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” —Joshua 1:9, ESV