Friday, June 28, 2013

Half-Year's Resolution

I read an article today from Relevant Magazine about needing a "half-year's resolution." Every New Year's we formulate a list of well-intentioned changes - things to add or subtract from our lives. We desire to make our lives fuller, better, healthier, more meaningful. But, inevitably, after a few weeks or months, our aspirations fall and fade. We say we'll try again next year and continue our unchanged lives.

So I began to think, what would my half-year's resolution be? Looking at my life right now, what do I need to be changing, how should I be living differently to better, to have a life more meaningful? While I could write a list spanning many pages of the things I need to change about myself and my life, one thing came straight to mind.

Cheesy and cliche as it truly sounds, I wish to live more in the moment, in the present. This desire is not of my own design, it is a lesson God is and has been teaching me in recent times, and one I am struggling to learn.

I'm a planner. I like to know what is going on so I can be prepared for it, often to a point that I am sure frustrates the people around me. I'm also a go-with-the-flow type, and these conflicting traits become very confusing at times. But I digress...

Recently my life has been full of unknowns and buckets of stress dumping down on my head and piling up on my shoulders. The great weight of this burdensome stress and worry has grown heavier and heavier. I try to dig myself out, clinging to the voice of God saying "trust Me, trust Me," but as my ears are covered by my stress and worry, the voice grows fainter and fainter.

I've started calling out to myself, seeking solutions in my own abilities and strengths. I've tried to fix it all myself, figure out what I'm doing after graduation, where I'll get money, how I'll pay off loans. The solutions don't seem to be readily apparent, and so my stress grows and I stop listening to the still voice saying, "trust Me, trust Me."

Consistently, God has continued to teach me to hear His voice and cry out to Him in my darkness. He is keeping my future unknown, teaching me to live in the present, be in the moment with Him. I don't know what I'm doing after college, but I know what I'm doing right now.

If all of my focus and attention is on the future, I cannot truly serve and love Jesus and those around me, and that is truly my heart's desire.

The future will come, and I should not be rushing into it, or even thinking about it. "Do not worry about tomorrow," such an important command from Jesus to His disciples, and one I am reminded of everyday when I look at the sparrow on my side.

If I'm constantly wondering what the future holds, I can't be here, I can't be now. And living is an active word.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

All I Need Is ...

In the past few weeks I've been getting to know myself a lot better. Living alone has given me a lot of time for self-reflection, and the slightly problematic habit of talking out loud to myself, which becomes problematic and mildly awkward when I forget I'm in public. Especially when I've been watching too much Downton Abbey and myself talks in a bad British accent...but that's beside the point.

I've been discovering, realizing, and understanding a lot more about myself, and to be honest, I don't really like the person I'm finding.


This "self-discovery," which in actuality is God-led-realization-of-my-sinful-nature, has revealed a lot of ugly underneath the well-kept facade of put-together I try to keep firmly in place.

Getting to know yourself can be a scary thing. It's why we hate being alone so much. What will be there, in the quiet emptiness? Will we find our true selves? God? Nothing? Being truly alone you are forced to face the truth, whatever the truth may be.

I've been learning the truth about myself, which I was happily hiding underneath my good qualities and the good things in my life.

I would like to think I'm a generally servant-hearted, others-centered, caring, etc, person. But I'm not. I'm far more prideful, selfish, and overall broken than I realized. This isn't being said out of self-pity or self-deprecation, I've done enough of that in my life already. I know I know I have good qualities as a person, but often I like to just see those and give myself credit for them, pat myself on the back for being a "good person" and move on without seeing the bad too. And that is just one example of ugly pride rearing its head, which is the brokenness I don't want to admit. That's me relying on me, instead of giving it up and relying on God.

As I've been relying on myself, giving myself credit for my strength instead of attributing the creator of goodness, grace, mercy, and love, I've been building a wall around myself. This wall is made up of all the things I want people to see when they look at me - interests, clothing style, major, hobbies, lifestyle, faith, passions, you name it. I've built up a big brick wall of facade that lets people know a lot of me - I include some of my brokenness, but only the things I think don't make me look too bad - but not all of me. By doing this, I've started to put pressure on myself to be the person portrayed in the wall, because that is who people know, that is who people love, that is who I have to be. And that has caused me so much pain and cornered me into making so many bad decisions.


That wall is me saying I can build this life on my own. And it is me saying that whoever God made me to be is not enough. And ultimately that is me saying that God is not enough, because it is me saying that the perceptions and affections of others are more important that the way God sees me, how God feels about me.

The truth is that I am not enough on my own, because I am the broken person I get to know more and more of everyday. BUT, I am enough, because my brokenness is covered by more grace and love than I can ever fathom, and though Christ my weakness is made into strength, and through Christ's perfection my broken self becomes enough.

Ultimately, if all you have is God, then you have everything you could ever need. God is so much more than enough. His love is so much more filling than anything or anyone else in the world.

My wall is still very much a reality. I've torn parts down and hastily rebuilt them more times than I can count. But at least I know the wall is there, and I am seeing and understanding more and more each day that the walls must come down, because realistically people probably would like the real me more than the one I try to be. And even if they didn't, it doesn't matter.

I have God. And God is all I need.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Worth Dying For

Is there anything you want so much you would give your whole life to it? Go past living and die for it?

In the early church, for the first Christians, calling themselves followers of Jesus came with the assumption that they would suffer, that they would probably be killed, that they would die for the Kingdom of God.

The decision to follow Christ was truly a decision to lay down their lives.

In Matthew 16:24, Jesus tell His disciples that they must deny themselves and pick up their crosses if they wanted to follow Him.

We often talk about "picking up our crosses" as just dealing with the burdens of life or sin or whatever bad things are happening. We don't interpret it as truly being prepared to pick up a gun and hand it to our executioner. Yet the early Christians did this. They watched as their friends were burned, waiting their turn to become a human torch. They walked steadily into the arenas, joining hands and singing praises to God as they awaited the lions and beasts.

They looked death in the face and said, "My God is greater."

All they had to do was deny Jesus and their lives would be spared.

But they looked death in the face and said, "My God is worth it, this is not my home."

What if we lived like that?

We talk all the time about living for God, living a life that reflects Jesus. Living in a way that honors and brings glory to the King of Kings. I very truly believe God desires us to live for Him. If you love someone you want to live for them, and so it should be with God.

But what if we weren't just willing to live for Jesus, what if we were willing to die for Him as well? What if Jesus meant so much to us we were truly willing to give Him everything?

I just wonder how different we would be, if our focus was so on Christ that not even our lives mattered anymore.

There are many countries in which the choice to follow Jesus is still a choice of life or death. The following Jesus is choosing to give up family, friends, lifestyle, and possibly life. I've never had to make that kind of decision about anything. No decision in my life has ever had the potential to cost me my life.

What if we thought about Christianity that way? That it wasn't just a box to check off on the "religious views" part of an application, that it wasn't just which church to attend on Sunday or who to pray to before bed, but that Jesus died for us, and now we are willing to die for Him.

Perhaps our lives would then begin to reflect His more, too. Less focus on the seemingly important trivialities of today, and more focus on the things that matter to God - justice, mercy, love, freedom from oppression, redemption, healing.

I want to live more like that. Outwardly focused, loving others, serving others. If Jesus matters so much I would give up my life for Him, then me and my interests begin to matter less and less, until my focus is fully on Him, the one who loves me, loves you, loves everyone, so much He died for us. 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Untitled Poem

waves whisper

fluttering down

soft white feathers
of innocent doves

peace, life, love

wings of eagles

hearts open

to beat
with true life

ears straining

to hear
the song of true love

feet longing

to dance
with the One who made them

lapping against shores

of a world
longing to be free

a million
grains of sand
are precious pearls

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

How's This For Random?

I'm attempting to sign up for some site that might pay me for blogging...and I have to use this sentence to prove I actually own this blog. Your task: write me a short story (like a few sentences or so) using this sentence: "an euphonious keeps you smart"