So here it is, December 31 of 2016. I chose to spend this day doing all sorts of things. First, I did not get to sleep in like I had planned, but got a good workout in at the gym (starting that New Year’s Resolution early I guess). Then, I met up with my mentor and had delightful and edifying conversation. Only to go home and prepare for the last thing that would make 2016 a year of checking things off my bucket list. My dad got my sister and I tickets to see my all-time favorite orchestra ever: Tran-Siberian Orchestra (it has been my dream since I was a child). Now, instead of feeling the bass and the violin through my dad’s home-surround sound, I felt it rumbling the arena first hand, so much so that I thought my phone kept going off.
But a time to check things off of a bucket list is not the only thing 2016 was. It was a time for me to grow in my faith, experience the power of God firsthand, and accept a calling on my life that I didn’t even think was possible.
2016 started off by traveling to Gatlinbrug, TN for a young adult retreat with several other girls from my church. At that retreat, the speaker had a session all about healing. He called out several people and what kinds of pains they had and as a group, we all prayed for physical healing, and by golly, they were healed! I happened to be one of those people. However, I was too afraid that I was wrong in my thinking that he could be calling out my back pain, not anyone else’s in the small sanctuary. I never went to the front to be healed. But when no one else went forward to be healed, I felt I needed to reconcile. I went to the front after the message and asked for healing. Two days later my back pain was healed!
Next, God put on my heart the idea of missions. I still remember the conversation with my pastor like it was yesterday. I expressed how I really enjoyed my ministry classes at school (as I was pursuing a pastoral ministry major) and felt that God had been putting missions in my path for a while. She said “maybe you’re being called to full-time ministry, or better yet, full-time vocational ministry”. Woah. Hold up. Me? Nah, God must have had the wrong person. But sure enough, after that conversation God continued to open up more and more doors for me to do missions work.
God seemed to want to plant in my head that He is the God of miracles because after the retreat, that phrase followed me around the whole year like a lost puppy. No. That’s wrong. It wasn’t just the phrase. It was the actual doing of miracles too.
One of the opportunities I had was to travel overseas to Southeastern Asia (my very first airplane ride!). While I was there I encountered God in ways never before. First, God used me to perform miracles. I prayed for someone with hurting legs and after three prayers, the guy was running. Then, many came fleeing to me asking me for prayer because of their physical pains. I prayed and right before my eyes they were healed. I’m not telling you this to be boastful of myself, but boastful of the Lord in that HE IS THE GOD OF MIRACLES.
Secondly, on that very same trip, I learned how much Jesus loves me. I learned that I am His Beloved and He is mine (Song of Solomon 5). How beautiful is that? Once I learned this, God started speaking to me through dreams, visions, song lyrics, other people, nature, and much more. He was not holding back all that He wanted me to see. And you know what? It was the most amazing thing I had ever encountered in my faith.
After this amazing trip, I went back to start my second year at University. I was excited for what God was going to reveal to me about my future (profession, relationships, opportunities, calling, etc.). But the semester was so stressful, emotionally speaking. It seemed there was always something that was trying to tug at my heart and distract me from the amazing summer I had with my Beloved.
And let me be the first to tell you that yes, those distractions worked and I fell a little bit. But that doesn’t change that God is still good. That doesn’t change what God did for me when He healed me in January. That doesn’t change what He did through me on my trip. God is still the God of Miracles. Period. There are no ifs, ands, or, buts about it.
And I have to say, there are two things that led me to continue to believe that after the emotional stress I went through in the last half of the year. First, I learned to stand up and just be the me that Christ created me to be. I have been called to live a certain life. I have been called to do a certain mission. So have you. I have doubted this calling, this new way of living, I bet you have too. But you know what? I learned that God has equipped me with all that I need, regardless the emotional stress. And He has done the same for you. So what we need to do is not cower in fear, of what others might think of us, or what might happen with our futures, but just take a stand and be what Christ has called us to be.
Secondly, I learned that it is okay to indulge on Jesus. Take that extra step in your faith. Believe in the greater things that He can do. Believe that what He said He would do, He will do it. Read that extra Bible verse, memorize it, hold it in your heart, write it on your forehead for crying out loud. Spend that extra 15 minutes in prayer. Put your phone away during church. Go to your church’s mid-week service. Let God encounter you! It’s okay to be afraid that He might call you to do something greater, but don’t let that fear stand in the way of being obedient to the call! Let Him take you deeper than your feet could ever wonder, those aren’t just words in a worship song, but heavenly incense being lifted up to the one on the Heavenly Throne!
What we all need in 2017 is a little overdose of the sweet love of Jesus. Indulge my friends! So this is me signing off from a great year of 2016 and signing on welcoming in the new year of 2017. My challenge to all of us this year is to indulge. Indulge on JESUS.