Every time I read Psalm 139: 23-24, every time I read David’s request of “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!”, I immediately think of the uncomfortable times when God sifts some awful thing out of my heart, when He reveals the way by which I can grow closer to Him, which, in cases such as these, is almost always only through giving up a part of my natural self that’s holding me back. It’s when He brings me to the place where, in reverent fear of and trust in Him, which He gave me in the first place, I let Him take away my stubbornness, or my selfishness, or my defensiveness, or my pride, or my fear. And it’s then, and only then, that I’m free to continue growing in Him.
This morning, talking with Him was all about that. Something I had done or thought or desired was in the way of my talking to Him freely and without hindrance, and I had to pray that He’d bring it before me so I could give it over to Him. And once it was brought to my attention, I realized how nasty of a thing it was, this little creature of sin that sat in my heart. I realize that’s a bit strange, to see sin that way. Even though it was a bout of selfishness (and I say “even though” carefully, because sins are all weighed the same), it was still sin, just like worry (yes, worry) is a sin, and it was still something I had to give up to Him, talk to Him about, ask for Him to forgive, and then rip it right from the place in which it had become far too comfortable, and replace it with trust in Him.
While I was reading through the beginning of 2 Chronicles this morning, and as I again read of Solomon’s great wealth and the temple he built for God and his attitude about it all (“The house that I am to build will be great, for our God is greater than all gods. But who is able to build him a house, since heaven, even highest heaven, cannot contain him? Who am I to build a house for him, except as a place to make offerings before him?”), I remembered that Solomon was born of Bathsheba.
Then I remembered how awful David’s whole thing with her was, how he’d murdered one of his mighty men after sleeping with his woman and then trying to trick him into thinking the child with which she was pregnant was his. And yet, despite how bad this was, God brought Solomon out of David’s marriage to her. God once again, even in the Old Testament, where He’s often criticized as being wrathful and horrible and cruel, brought something wonderfully good out of something horribly bad 🙂
Yesterday morning I had a rough time talking with God (not in that it was difficult to talk to Him, I was just having a rough day spiritually, emotionally, etc.). Eventually I just sat and talked to Him about everything. Then I packed up my things spent two hours just with Him, sitting in the cafeteria, munching on pasta salad and sipping on hot cocoa.
Around 3:30 in the afternoon, I waited for my classmates to come so we could meet and have our discussion. I was kind of nervous about the possibility of no one coming at all, and prayed that, if this happened, I would react in a way that would glorify God and bring me closer to Him. As I waited, I noticed my friend from Macedonia was sitting nearby.
To be funny, I texted her, saying “Nathalie, I’m behind you.” I was studying Acts, particularly when Paul was in Macedonia and going through Macedonia, etc. So she came over and I showed her that passage. She thought it was really cool 🙂 Shortly after she went back to class.
There was a classmate of mine, a few months ago, with whom I had a conversation about Catholicism, specifically about his faith, and he became really heated in the conversation. Karly was there. By the end, though I wasn’t entirely sure if it had changed anything, I understood better where he was and where she was.
Anyway, while I was waiting and after Nathalie had left, he and one of his friends came and sat with me. My Bible was open and I was studying and they immediately started talking about their Catholic backgrounds and the hypocrisy of the church. I enjoyed listening to what they had to say and really appreciated their being so open about everything. I got to ask a lot of questions, and when I repeated what they were saying back to them, they seemed to think for a moment, because most of what they were saying kept running into itself, concerning the Bible and priesthood and how they see God and the Gospel.
At one point one of them made an assumption about how I’d been “born with a great sense of God” and that “that was great.” I was then able to say “actually, that’s not how it happened at all…” and I got to share my testimony. And as the conversation progressed, when all my people came, there was one point where my other classmate was talking about he needed to learn to be good on his own before he could go back to God. I got to ask him if he thought I was “good” when God got a hold of me. He said “Well, yeah, of course!” And then I was able to say, with confidence that this was not the truth, that I was awful. He seemed kind of surprised, and thought for a moment, before continuing.
Pretty soon, everyone else showed up. But when they came, the two classmates that were originally there started going off on tangents, which came back to telling me that my believing the Bible was absolute truth was a logical fallacy and that certain aspects of my faith were impossible. I had to be really patient and just keep praying to God as they talked. I wasn’t offended. I just felt a little overwhelmed.
They brought in evolution and universalism and all sorts of things, and I had to redirect them back to our original conversation about the Bible and about Christ. It was a challenge to not want to try and answer every single one of their arguments and instead go back to what really mattered and what we were actually talking about.
At one point one of them said “And I’m only even talking about this because your Bible is open right now.” My conversation with them ended with having both of them saying “We really respect your opinion and feel refreshed whenever we talk to you.” And “what you said about this made me really think about this,” and “I’ll have to think about this more.”
Although it took a lot to not get upset, or give into discomfort, or let my emotions run me as I took their criticisms and their questions, and as I asked them questions, I was grateful for God’s giving me the opportunity to talk to them, and for having them feel comfortable enough to talk to me and not hold anything back or be afraid of offending me, and they seemed to really think about the conversation, even though I didn’t really talk all that much.
Once they left, I slumped down in my chair and sat there while my friends went and got dinner. I just rested in Christ, talking to Him, not asking any questions or over-thinking anything, just feeling very loved and surprisingly stable, though I was spiritually exhausted.
The next conversation (the ACTUAL meeting with my classmates 😛 ) was actually really fun and refreshing. Bree had asked a few days prior about how the Bible was organized, and she talked about how she would read it if she knew where to start and how it all worked. So, going off of her question, I went from Genesis to Revelation, explaining, in a nutshell, the purpose of the Bible, how the Old Testament leads up to the New Testament, and how Christ’s coming is the climax of the Bible. I explained the order of the books, the purpose of prophets, the difference between the gospels and Paul’s letters. I gave a short run down of the difference between the Catholic Bible and the Protestant Bible. I admitted, however, that I hadn’t completed my thoughts on it just yet. And as I talked, Alex jumped in and added onto what I was saying and took over every once in a while, and I found this very helpful.
As we followed the order of the Bible, everyone asked questions and had no problem saying what they thought or stopping me to ask a question or to say they didn’t understand. It ended with their saying they wanted to meet again next week and do the discussion again and that they’d bring more questions. I said I would find a starting point to work from and they could ask questions from there and go on tangents as they so desired.
So, I had been totally worried and freaked out about meeting up with my classmates, and what ended up happening, to quote Jacob, “went better than I ever hoped for.” And he’s right 🙂 God used something I’d at first thought to be nonsensical and far too impulsive to instead challenge the thinking of quite a few of my classmates, and challenge it enough to make them want to do it again 🙂
One of the things that keep running through my head is how in the first semester of my freshman year here, I’d tried to start a Bible Study for Christians. Looking back, I realize how ridiculous that was. I mean, the intentions were right, and the goal was clear and fine, but at that time it wasn’t realistic. I know understand it’s not a matter of waiting for people to come to you, or waiting for the right oranges to fall from the tree, ready for harvest, but rather going out and picking, whether you’re on the west side of the orchard or the east, the north or the south. Wherever you are, whoever is there 🙂
Today, after spending most of my time on homework and Bible study and reading and writing, Julie texted me and asked me if I wanted to be part of Grandma Pat’s birthday party. The obvious answer was yes.
So I skyped with the entire Brock family (minus Nathan, Leah, and Jacob), my entire family (including my Dad), Grandma Pat, and my Pastor’s family along with a few others. I was able to talk to my mom about things. I got to see all of the children I miss so much. I was able to chat, however shortly, with Aunt Lori and Uncle Doug. Just seeing all of them together, having fun, to see two of my worlds colliding, again, was so refreshing that I’m still wearing the smile that the sight gave me as a gift 🙂 The best part is that all of them were together without my having to be involved. I hadn’t planned anything or expected anything, and here they are, both of my families, both my biological and my not-so-biological family, together, without me 🙂
These last couple of days have just been a testimony of God’s character, how, yes, He plans things, He ordains things to happen, He really doesn’t need my help, doesn’t really need me at all 😛 And yet He chooses to use me, to grow me, to strengthen me, to discipline me, to push me beyond my limits and understand that He has none, and to love me. And that’s amazing 🙂
“I (God) am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god. Who is like me? Let him proclaim it. Let him declare and set it before me, since I appointed an ancient people. Let them declare what is to come, and what will happen. Fear not, nor be afraid, have I not told you from of old and declared it? And you are my witnesses! Is there a God besides me? There is no Rock; I know not any.” —Isaiah 44:6-8, ESV