Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Empty pockets, open hands

There are a lot of things in this life that don't make sense to me. Why do certain people have to face certain struggles? Why is there so much suffering? How can I accomplish God's plan for my life with so much evil and distraction in the way? But then there are those things in life that make perfect sense, but that doesn't make them any easier. When you sin, you know it. There's a lump in the back of your throat and your stomach gets knotted. You feel weird around other people, just acting like everything is okay. And most of the time, you know what steps you need to take to find healing. Going to God is the obvious answer. Confess to Him what you've done and how you're feeling, and he will forgive you, no matter what you've done. He promises that. But what about when you know that you need to take more steps, that you can't just keep it between you and God? Well, that's the "doesn't make them any easier" part.

God knows what you need before you even come close to needing it. That's hard to understand and remember. I know. In my current situation, he has placed people in my life that have gone through the same thing many years ago that I'm going through now. Funny how God works like that. We need each other. We weren't meant to go through life alone. One of my biggest fears, as hard as it is to admit this, is what other people will think of me. If I tell them how I'm struggling, will they judge me? Will they ever look at me the same way again? Can they forgive me and still love me?

As I was told yesterday, and I so desperately needed to hear this... I need to get over myself. So often I get the idea that people won't love me if I mess up. "No way can I be lovable and viewed as a decent human being after I tell them what I did." Everyone screws up. Everyone makes mistakes. We're called to listen to and pray for each other in these times. It's not anyone else's job to label me. God has labeled me, and my label says "forgiven and loved."

James 5:16 says "Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective." I want God to change me and work in me. I want Him to help me be more open with my feelings and my needs. I want to be a person that others know they can come to and be honest. I also want to be better at prayer. Sometimes I feel like I'm trying to impress God. But he needs me to be real with my brokenness and tell Him just what I need. He is faithful. And His healing won't always look the way I want it to. I have to be okay with that.

One of my most important take-aways from this week is that I don't have to do anything to earn God's love. He loves me immeasurably more than I'll ever know. And I am grateful.

"Tell me I'm forgiven and loved 
'Cause I hear it from the street corner priests
Oh how God is love and how man can be clean 
But my joy has been on holiday
And my peace has almost passed away 
Tell me I'm forgiven and free

Oh I tried and tried to rectify my hopeless situation
But I bought the lie 'I still have work to do'
Now I'm workin' 9 to 5 like I can earn my own salvation
But there is no condemnation in You 

Oh He died, He died to rectify my hopeless situation
And his blood commands my guilt to leave 
Now on Calvary I stand
Empty pockets, open hands
Oh there is no condemnation for me!"
-Forgiven and Loved 
by Jimmy Needham 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Immeasurably more

Oh, how busy we can get. Every single time that I feel overwhelmed and stressed, I realize that it's because God has not been my priority. Why can I not just learn my lesson? I fall out of a routine of talking to God and I get cranky, exhausted, and ultimately, I take it out on other people. I become so focused on myself that I find fault in the actions of everyone else, especially those close to me. I'm going to start asking the Lord to help me get better with this. My prayer is that I will find a routine that I can actually stick to, because I want to really know Him all the time.

SO. College update. I've got my dorm just about exactly how I want it. I'm looking for a couple more small things, though. It's going to be an absolute pain to take everything down in May because there are pictures and postcards EVERYWHERE. Oh well, it's a cute little space! Classes are going pretty well, too. I'm just so ready to actually start taking nursing classes. So often I've felt like what I'm doing in class isn't really relevant or beneficial in the long run, and that really frustrates me. Just another reason I need quiet time every day! I've become really good friends with my roommates, which is definitely an answer to prayer! All summer, and basically all of senior year, I asked God to place me with people that challenge me, can minister to me, and also provide me with opportunities to minister to them. I am thankful!

Now, the moment we've all been waiting for.... Grrraaaahhhhmmmm! Okay, well maybe I've just been excited to write this part... EITHER WAY, I love him! He constantly encourages me and shows me the ways he loves me, and I'm so thankful. G, if you're reading this, thank you for being such a Godly man. You encourage me to be more loving and understanding. I know that I can be difficult. Sometimes I read too much into a situation. Sometimes I get upset over small things. Sometimes I get mad and don't know how to express it to you. But you haven't given up on me. Actually, you've done the extreme opposite. You make an effort to talk to me kindly and gently when I'm sad, and let me know that you aren't going anywhere. I appreciate that so much more than I know how to say. You make me so proud to even know you.

Despite some of the stress and the frustration, these past few months have been some of the most wonderful I've ever experienced. I feel so encouraged whenever I take a minute and count my blessings. How great is our God!

"I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge- that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." -Ephesians 4:16-21

Amen indeed.