Faith, Peace, Discernment
I have roughly a month at home before I return to school in Virginia and continue on the path God has set before me. It is a very sobering thought to realize that this may be the last summer I spend in the Pacific Northwest for a while as I will most likely be staying during the summer in Virginia to work and keep my place on the lease. This understanding of how precious my time in the valley really is has forced me to reflect upon all that I will be leaving behind.
As I have contemplated the time I have spent at home during summer break, God has chosen to reveal to me three areas of my life where growth is not only important but absolutely vital to my walk with Him:
When my faith is not completely in the will of God, it is just as bad as not ever having placed my faith in Him to begin with. The God I serve is one that does not accept a portion of an offering. To give to God my arm or a leg is to greatly dishonor what He has requested of me. God desires not a piece of me nor the part I am willing to give to Him when it is convenient. God desires my whole being, my absolute everything, in its completion. To approach the throne in confidence with all that I am is the expectation God has of His followers. There is no in-between or middle-ground. There is no on-the-fence or on-the-bubble. With God, there is only all-in or completely out.
Faith involves a complete submission of self to God. It means putting to death our old ways and our old selves to be more like Christ. When we place our faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus becoming a follower of Christ we admit that salvation is impossible on our own. The followers of Christ recognize that only in the promises of Christ can we rest with full assurance and confidence.
"I appeal to you therefore, brothers,by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship."
In this life we will have troubles, trials, and tribulations, but we can have full assurance that God will see us through all that we bear and endure. While we may become absolutely wrecked and emotionally destroyed by what we encounter, we can rest in the truth that we serve a God that is faithful. "When God says something is going to happen, it happens" and "We serve a God that shows up" are just a couple of the sayings one of my mentors has nailed into my head over the past four years. When Jesus says He will bear the insurmountable burden of our pains, hurts, and sorrows, He does not leave us with full hands and broken backs. With joy, He receives the full force of our failures, our brokenness, and our sufferings, casting off the heavy weights that prevent us from following Him with everything we have.
A quote that was said at Bible study convicted me to the very depths of my heart:
"To worry is to fall into temporary Atheism."
When it all comes down to it, any amount of doubt, fear, or anxiety is to question whether or not we truly believe that God exists. If you feel yourself becoming defensive at this statement, take time to consider the reality of the quote. When we feel that we have to take the concerns of this life upon ourselves we detract from our complete reliance on God as Father, Lord, and Provider. To take into our own hands our livelihood, where we will lay our head, and even the life we have been given is to assume that God does not have our steps in His hands. This involves peace in situations that are simply out of our control.
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin,yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you."
Of all the themes and topics discussed in the Bible, it has always been the wisdom and knowledge conveyed throughout the Scriptures that has astounded me. How truly amazing it is to be loved by a God that is not only all-powerful but all-knowing. What is even more amazing is to be given the ability to understand the Word of God through the power of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 2). The Bible speaks at great lengths to the importance of wisdom but never does it appear without understanding and discernment. Wisdom without understanding is meaningless as there is no possible way for the wisdom to be applied to the hearer. Only through the power of the Holy Spirit are we able to even begin to comprehend God's Word, which within itself is a testament to how much He loves us. God wants us to seek Him and know Him better and one of the easiest ways to do this is to dive into His Word as not just another book but the very revelation of God written for us.
Throughout this life we will inevitably encounter important decisions that will not only affect us, but the many people that surround us. No decision will only influence our life and with that understanding in mind, we must seek the counsel of God's Word in all those events. While the Word may be silent on some matters, with full assurance we can seek the counsel of God through prayer and the fellowship of those in the body of Christ for wisdom and advice. To live as a follower of Christ is to seek earnestly and purposefully the wisdom of God in our day-to-day, not just the times we feel we need Him, because honestly, there is no time where we do not need the loving embrace of our Father.
"For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account."
It is my prayer that you are able to identify the areas in your life that God is trying to grow you and become malleable to His will. Any fool can attempt to stand up to God and His plans but it takes a truly broken and tired person to rely completely on Almighty God. Do not fall into the trap of trying to fix yourself for God because it is not what He expects. God provided His Son as the sacrifice for our rightly deserved punishment so that we may live in the fullness of life through the power of His Son and His Spirit. We need to take ourselves out of the equation and place our complete dependence on God for all that we need, request, and desire. Let His face be the focus of your eyes and His glory be the focal point of your life. It is not about us. It will never be about us. It is only about Him.