***Warning: this is long and originally not intended to be a blog posting. I was just processing through thoughts on my own and only through that felt it should be shared. Additional “warning notes” at the bottom***
Something, or someone really, is stirring up my heart. It feels as though a swoop of wind has turned it about and dust is swirling in the air. You know, when it almost looks like a mini dirt tornado? Or at least I used to think of that as a kid. Anyway, all that to say, something is brewing.
Lately, I’ve been trying to evaluate “how I’m doing” with God and whether I’m in his will. It’s something I think about periodically and never quite have a good grasp on what the answer would look like. I mean really, what does “doing well with God” look like? In my mind I think it’s being problem-less and happy. But that’s not Scriptural. Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds... (James 1:2) So then I think maybe it’s when I feel complete comfort and have hit an obligatory “plateau” like the American Dream. Again, not Scriptural. Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (1 John 2:15) Okay, so maybe I have to sell everything I own and move to live in a hut before doing well? Or something entirely different? I really don’t know.
And then I thought, why do I have to have a measure for what this looks like? I am not God, I do not know where he is taking me in this life. If I am daily laying my life at his feet, holding the pieces of this world with open hands, and pursuing him wholeheartedly, how am I to say that is not what “doing well with God” looks like? We are so quick to create comparisons to determine how and where we stand, whereas God does not compare us to anything except perfection, which we failed miserably on. But thankfully because of Jesus, he does not see my failures and instead sees a broken person covered in the perfect blood of his son.
So then I thought, how am I doing with pursuing righteousness, living open handed, humbling myself before him, and loving others? Enter irksome feeling in my heart. Why? Because I do not often enough follow Moses’ instructions to watch yourselves very carefully, so that you do not become corrupt and make for yourselves an idol… (Deuteronomy 4:15-16) I, instead, am like the Israelites who got bored thinking Moses had disappeared with God and decided to make a calf to worship. Our hearts are created to worship something and if God is not holding that place firmly, we will naturally sway to something else. Always. In discussing these concepts and passages during small group Wednesday in the context of trials (studying James this semester), sweet Anna said she was drawn Moses’ urging to watch yourselves very carefully. Coupling that with the knowledge that we will have trials is very profound.
Okay, so how on earth do I pull my heart that is prone to wander back to God? How do I take my somewhat spontaneous, inconsistent, non-planner-like self and maintain consistency? How do I make myself pursue God when I’m so tired and just want to enter the world of slumber? I don’t know. Except, that it takes grace and forgiving myself when I do fail as opposed to internally beating myself up to the point where I don’t have the energy or desire to focus the next time.
Here’s the thing. I’ve been drawn to the story of a girl who gave up her conventional, American life to live for God and love others in Africa. My friend Sarah introduced me to her story and in reading how God is working in her life, began to compare myself and feel useless and ineffective. And a mix of jealousy for her calling and fear that I could be called to this life. As I wandered around over lunch today, thoughts were swimming in my head and God whispered quietly that I am not to compare myself to her or anyone. I should be challenged and encouraged by her story, but mine is different.
So, what IS my story? Am I living it? Am I living it well in a way that God will one day say “well done my good and faithful servant” in the way that I so hope and pray? Yes, I love on and serve my precious girls, but is there more I should be doing? Do I focus too much on me, spend too much time with friends, artsiness, music, entertainment, etc etc etc? Am I missing the point? I desperately want these sorts of words to be said about me and not for my fame, but to know that I truly opened myself up to the point where God shined SO brightly through me that these words would be true:
“When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” Acts 4:13
I truly do not know the answers to those questions. To be honest, I have an extremely difficult time “evaluating” myself as I tend to see the negative, the sin, the ugliness. I hear the lies being whispered in my ears and strive to shut them up, but they weasel their way back in through the form of doubt. But I think about some aspects of myself that are drastically different than before, even just a year ago. I have shared tough, ugly things about myself with people; women in community, CR, my girls. This is NOT of me as I prefer to bottle it all up and put on a somewhat smiley face. This is one huge aspect of growth in my life.
But it’s not enough for me. I don’t want it to stop here. I want to pour out every single solitary last ounce of myself for Jesus. For others. I want my life to count for him and only him. I want for people to not see me, but instead see Jesus shining through me. And I am not saying this lightly as I know the magnitude with which God moves and his hatred toward lukewarmness. No matter how hard, difficult, uncomfortable, or painful this may be, I know it will mean I am in Jesus’ hand, in God’s will. Making a difference for him.
I don’t really know what this looks like or where God will take me. One passion God has given me (which is hopefully quite obvious to most of you) is for his young girls to know him and pursue him. To shepherd their hearts, teach and learn about his word with them, and to use myself, my sins, my struggles, and any other aspect of me he chooses to encourage their hearts. The last of which I never thought would occur to the degree with which it has, but that’s what happens when I open myself up to God. I get that irritatingly uncomfortable heart racing and full-body heat which is the Holy Spirit encouraging me to share. And Praise Him for not allowing it to return void as anytime I’ve opened myself up, he has filled it back with girls who need encouragement and to not feel alone, or something else entirely.
So, with that and after my bit of rambling I end and thank you for bearing with me. As I said in my intro, I had no intention in sharing this as a blog post. I was just writing and thinking. It wasn’t until about halfway through that I thought there could be an element of encouragement to someone out there. Someone with whom God could use my words to speak to their heart or, if nothing else, as another way for me to become more transparent. I will say, in an attempt to keep this raw and how it flowed from my heart through my fingers, I did not re-read anything. So, please forgive me if you get confused, read bad grammar, or find my thoughts confusing.