It was about 11:30PM on a Thursday night when I realized my eyes were actually open and I was staring into the dark abyss of my bedroom. The whole time I thought my eyes were closed and I was trying to sleep. Instead, I was literally wide-awake with my mind racing a million miles a minute.
Apparently, my mind thought (no pun intended) it was a good time for me to go through every detail of my day, the next day, and the next 5 years of my life. Thus being so, worrisome thoughts crept into my mind. Will I ever finish school? Will I find my dream job? Will I ever find a spouse? Can I really accomplish these goals?
And of course, if you’re anything like me you can relate to being the “midnight goal setter”. Personally, I set high goals for myself late at night that I am supposed to attempt to achieve the next day. Things such as going to the gym in the morning, eating a healthy, well-balanced breakfast, or even just doing something different with my hair. Of course, by then I have so much motivation (on top of worry) streaming through my veins that I most definitely will not be sleeping anytime soon.
Eventually, however, my intuition kicked in and I realized I wasn’t super exhausted because I was out of my allergy medicine that put me to sleep. However, even though I did not have to set my alarm to intrude on my beauty sleep the next day, I realized if I wanted to even be remotely productive, than I really needed my beauty sleep! So, I chose the natural approach of coaxing myself to sleep by slapping a dab of lavender under my nostrils. I can still hear my mom saying, “a little dab will do ya!”
While laying in bed and awaiting the lavender’s natural powers to kick in, I considered the following:
When we declare ourselves to be followers of Jesus, we are hyped during that moment. We are so ready for this new lifestyle; ready to be transformed and begin living this new, amazing Christian life. We are on high alert, applying scripture left and right, praying our little hearts out, and even sharing this new experience with some co-workers.
Eventually, Sunday after Sunday goes by. Years upon years of volunteering at VBS fade into distant memories. Reading the Bible seems pointless because you have no time to actually delve into what it means and how to apply it. We become tired and drowsy in our walks with the Lord.
When we sleep, we are technically unconscious. We can’t really hear anything. We aren’t really in control of what is running through our minds (dreams, that is). And in all honesty. We are more prone to being attacked (whether it be by your cat that thinks you’re playing when you move your feet, or something else).
The same is true when we are spiritually asleep, with minor exceptions. When we are spiritually asleep, we are more prone to being attacked by the enemy because we are not on high alert, pouring into our relationship with Christ. Though we technically have the power to control our thoughts, we don’t even realize that they are even toxic and need to be taken captive.
My point is this: we have fallen into a deep spiritual slumber. So deep that it’s like we have neon signs strapped to us inviting the Devil to come and take his place in our lives. We have put our weapons down and left ourselves open and visible for an attack.
But I don’t believe that is what Christ has called us to be. I believe that we are to be alert, praying in the Spirit constantly, fervently. We are to be taking captive our thoughts to the obedience of Christ. Worshiping Jesus in every moment. And spreading the Good News just as much as we complain to our neighbors of how tired we are!
So my question for you is… are you sleeping? Or are you wide-awake in your spiritual life?
It is time to stop hitting snooze and to arise from our slumbers!
I stepped out of my air-conditioned room and into the kitchen area. Perfect. The counter was clean, free of any green peppers or grains of rice that may have escaped from the pan when someone was cooking on the hot plate. I set my devotional, Bible, notebook, and novel on the counter in front of the toaster and sat down on the plastic sandstone grey chair. Double checking that the counter was clean, I put my arms down on the counter and slowly closed my eyes and put my head in my arms.
Peace, at last.
It had been a long few days where I had chosen to try to go to bed early instead of spend time with the Lord. From a long day trip learning about Indian music and eating Indian cuisine on Sunday to a Monday filled with an important meeting, a two hour Hindi class, and dinner at my supervisors house. Instead of fighting the exhaustion and trying to keep my eyes open, I chose to lay my head down and try to sleep.
Despite my efforts to go to bed, I laid awake until 3 a.m., two nights in a row, tossing and turning, contemplating my future, what I would have for dinner the next day, and what kind of shoes I would wear to my future big-kid job. Of course, I have woken up the past two mornings feeling even more exhausted and still unsure of what to do with my future.
As soon as I put my head on my arms I hear these words: What does it look like to follow me with your whole heart?
I began to list out things such as spending time in the Word daily, trusting God with my future, leaning on God for strength, praying, using the gifts He has given me to glorify Him, etc. Soon enough, I realized these were not the answers God wanted from me. Sure, these things are good and Godly, and obviously the Sunday School response, but God wanted something deeper that was personal for me.
God wanted me to answer according to my nitty-gritty, day-to-day life. He wanted to know what specific things I could do to follow Christ with my whole heart. This is what God wants from us. He wants all of us.
Growing up (and still to this day), I remember something my mom used to always say. Whenever we would jokingly fight I would say “you want a piece of me!?” and she would always respond with, “no! I want the whole thing!” That’s the key right there. God doesn’t just want a piece of our hearts, He wants the whole thing. He doesn’t want just half of our attention, He wants all of it.
I am going to do something a little differently in this blog. I am going to start a list of things I feel I can do to live my life with my heart completely rendered to God and I want you (yes you, the reader) to comment and add things you can do as well. Please do not feel compelled to share anything too personal. I have learned that when we voice things, it helps them become more realistic in our lives. It is also important for us to remain in unity, supporting each other, as the body of Christ! So. . .
Following Christ with my whole heart:
– Think before I speak, as to respond with love, not an attitude
– Thank God more often (even for the not-so-good things)
– Limit expectations on my days, conversations, and relationships
– Put my phone away and be “present” with the Lord and those around me
These are just a few things God is speaking to me about to draw closer to Him. What is He speaking to you about?
It has been a few weeks since I have written about my adventures in India. I would like to say that it is because I have been busy, but in all honesty, I have been just pure lazy. Not only that, but to find the correct words to string together that describe all I am experiencing here is just no task man can handle alone. Not only have I been too lazy to write, but unsure of what to write. Now… where did I leave off last? Oh yes, I ended my last post with something about God’s strength being what I needed to survive here.
Yeah, that pretty much sums up my last few weeks. Shall we proceed?
Before we jumped into our field placements, we went on a trip with the other social work students to the west side of South India. We took a train for 7 hours, then got on a bus for another 3 hours, and then walked for about an hour through hilly lands. We were staying with an NGO that worked with tribal families in the area.Throughout our visit there, we spent time meeting with, collecting data, learning from, and talking about the tribal groups. We learned that they are being exploited and had several debates on how we, as social workers, can help stop the exploitation. No, we did not come to a conclusion.
On one of the nights we went to a village deep in the Western Ghats and spent an evening with a tribal family. The other students put on a program for them. We slept on the cold hard floors in a school building (one room) with about thirty other people… and spiders. But let me tell you, it was rewarding waking up to the sun rise over the mountains. It was one of the most beautiful views I had ever seen.
Meeting some of the tribal families was at times uninteresting for me. This is mainly because of the language barrier. Not only did they speak a different language, but some also spoke a different language then the students I was with. This made it very challenging for me to do anything other than sit and watch. But then again, when else would be a better time than to practice the spiritual discipline of silence and to just observe and breath in?
I was expecting to leave there feeling very guilty about my choice of lifestyle at home, but honestly, I didn’t. Sometimes I feel guilty for not feeling guilty, but then I have realized something. I have realized that they are content with what they have. The tribal people don’t worry and fret about eating the next day and only worry about a single day’s wage at a time. They do not usually save either. I come from a culture that plans weeks, months, and sometimes even years in advance. I do not feel bad about it, but am learning to accept this cultural difference.
To get back, we hopped back on the bus for a three hour ride. Then, we departed from the rest of the students that were heading back to the college campus. We were going to do some touristy sight seeing the next day and then head back. We went to a palace that was beautiful. Then, a few temples. We took a sleeper train back to Chennai the following evening. Now, I had never been on a sleeper train before, but it was so cool. There’s little beds everywhere and they hang off the walls, mostly bunked, and they give you a blanket, pillow, and sheet and you basically just sleep until they reach your stop.
Even though we slept on the train, we were pretty much exhausted when we got back. We took the whole day to recover. Then, the following day, I started my field placement.
I have chosen two agencies to intern at. One where I will be with four other students from the college and we will write grant proposals and create programs to help out the tribal groups just outside of the city. The second is with my classmate from home that is here with me, Abby. We will be teaching at-risk students life-long skills.
As the weeks have passed we have gotten into the routine of our placements and are finally getting a sense of what our lives for the next three months in India will be like. I am proud to say that I have successfully crossed the street and gone to the grocery store by myself. I am also excited to say that we have found the nearest Starbucks and it is just train ride, then an auto ride away. But if you know me, you know I’m willing to do anything for my Starbucks.
That’s exactly the thing though. I am learning how to do things and live life like a local. It is one of the hardest things I have ever done. I mean, I have never ridden a train before… or not been able to just get in my car and drive twenty minutes down the road to get my Starbucks. I have never walked from place to place more than I do now.
There are little things that I get frustrated about doing too.. For example, bucket laundry. My clothes hang drying I cannot simply put my clothes in a washer and dryer. I have to make a bucket of water and then let my clothes soak for 30 minutes, then proceed to rinse. I’m not gonna lie though, I’m pretty sure all of my clothes still have laundry detergent in them because I am definitely not wringing them out enough. After you hang them to dry and turn, you can then proceed to take a bath in the same bucket. Remember when you were a kid and you would take a bath and to get the soap out of your hair your mom would dump a pitcher of water over your head, covering your eyes? That’s basically what you do, except Mom’s not here doing it for you. It just gets exhausting and makes you question how bad you need to shower… then you remember that your clothes probably aren’t very clean and see how the bottoms of your feet are basically black… so you shower.
one Sunday afternoon all I wanted to do was just do my work, alone, at a coffee shop. Can’t be hard right? I just needed a little introvert time. So, I got my stuff together and was planning to check out this little coffee shop called Cafe Coffee Day. I knew I would have to take an auto-rigshaw from the campus gate to get to the road near it, but that was only 10RS. I could handle it.
So, I flagged down one of the buzzing, yellow tuk-tuks and simply said “Camp Road” to the driver. He knew exactly what I was talking about and motioned for me to get in. Luckily, my program direction, Anu, who we have been calling our Mom of India, taught me that you don’t get into the auto until you know how much they are charging. And you always go to them with a set price in your head. So I asked the guy, “how much?” He says “10RS”. So, I got in.
I was trying to keep track of how far we were going in case I wanted to try to walk back. After awhile, however, I realized that it was further than I remembered. Then again, I hadn’t been there since my first day of being in India, so that was understandable, or at least I thought. He pulled off to the side of the road right at an intersection. I knew it was the right spot because of the giant green sign that said “Camp Road”. Some things never change between cultures…
I knew I would need to walk a few minutes to reach a corner before I got to the little shop. I also had landmarks to look for. I was told there would be a KFC a little ways from it on the opposite side of the road and a Papa Johns directly across from it. I started my walk and kept my eyes peeled for these places. By now, I was ready to sit in the cool air conditioned shop and sip some type of iced coffee beverage while writing my field log and reflection paper.
After a bit, it seemed as if maybe it was taking too long for me to get there. I pulled out my phone and tried to type the shop into my maps app, but it said it was no where close. “This has to be wrong,” I thought to myself in desperation for a cup of coffee. But as I kept walking, there was still nothing. I was becoming more and more disappointed. Finally, I flagged down another auto driver, giving up and ready to return to the college to pout.
When I asked the guy how much, I realized he did not speak English very well. He showed me a “5” with his hand and I hopped in. I thought it was a good deal… but after I got out and I handed him the coin that is 5RS, he laughed and then signed “50”. I said “you mean 50?” At that point, I wasn’t going to argue. I pulled out a 100 and he gave me my change. I walked away not knowing whether or not I had been jipped. Either way, I just wanted to get back and figure out how to get to this coffee place next time. But, it’s been a few weeks since that point of utter frustration, and I still have yet to go. Instead, I made the trip to Starbucks.
It’s little things like trying to saree shop in a four level building and not knowing how to say what you are looking for so the store clerk just keep sending you to other levels of the store hoping you find what you look for or when you are in the Big Bizarre (a store very similar to Walmart) and all you want is marinara sauce for your rigatoni noodles, but have to get pizza sauce because this week they don’t have marinara sauce that you just have to remain calm, and even laugh at. In that same trip to the Big Bizarre, the Indian Republic Day, that is, Abby and I were just trying to find the right food so we could cook in our little kitchenette because the Mess Hall was closed for the Holiday.
We finally gave up on finding some things because of how crowded the store was. Also, there is no such thing as personal space, being rude by walking in front of someone while they are looking for an item, or even problems with cutting in line. When we were ready to checkout, we hopped in different lines to get out of there quicker. I was third in line and the first person in line was almost finished. Then, out of nowhere, a woman comes with a cart of items and cuts me. I realized that it was her husband in front of me, so she was just finishing up the rest of the shopping while he stood in line. Then, as if that was not bad, their daughter comes with yet another loaded cart of stuff. Abby and I looked at each other from across the checkout lines, her being the next in line, and we just can’t help but laugh. How humorous this was. Eventually, I switched lines and made it out. We decided after that to try to never have to go back to the Big Bizarre and to try to maintain our stopping at the Pik-N-Pak or Fresh, which were smaller, but much closer to campus.
So friends, as one who is learning to live in the country of India, let me tell you that it is not an easy thing to do. I struggle with it, most of the time. Not because I dislike the culture, but because of how foreign it really is. It becomes less frustrating and less surprising each day, but that doesn’t take the difficulty out of it.
Some things I have had a hard time adjusting to. One of those is food. It’s not that I don’t like the food… it’s just really spicy and I don’t like spicy food. I have my nights in the Mess Hall where I know it’s food I will like and I usually always have some rice with gravy. But I don’t eat nearly as much as I do when I enjoy the food. I can’t always have rigatoni 😦
On another note, I have never been more sick in my life than I have been this past month of being here. Between getting sick the second day and random times of exhaustion and this past week (I mean like Tuesday night to Sunday night) of being bedridden with two trips to the doctors and a full round of antibiotics and not eating anything but a slice of bread for four days… I think I’ve got the rest of my life’s worth of sicknesses while I’m here too.
The one thing I love, however, is how easy it is to see God in the small things. While I am living here, I am almost forced to live in simplicity in some ways. I am actually enjoying it and God is opening my eyes to see Him in a new light in the midst of it. It’s like no matter how bad something seems to me, like being sick and missing three days of fieldwork, I just cannot stop falling more in love with God. There is no limit to it. If the reason He brought me here was to show me that, then I am glad I am here. I am blessed to even have this opportunity in my life and God is teaching me to cope and live life with the things He has provided for me, not with the things that I think are necessary.
That being said, I know I am going to struggle with the rest of my time here. I just will. But that is okay. God has never failed to pull me back to Him and remind me of His all-consuming love. I even could not contain the idea of not having my guitar to worship, so I splurged a little to buy a new one here. I don’t want to live my life in India as if God is waiting for me back in America. I want to live it as if Jesus is walking with me daily. That means, living in confidence, freedom, and contentment in all circumstances.
I hope some of my struggles may have been able to speak to you today. Maybe you are finding things difficult lately and you just need to bask in the presence of Jesus. Let me encourage you dear friend, do it. He is with you through that hard time. He is sitting with you while you are sick. He is making dinner with you after your long day at work. He is jogging with you on your morning run. Just know, that you can get through it because Jesus.
I haven’t even been in Chennai for a full week, but I feel like I have months and months of experiences to share. On our first day here, we met with a lot of people. We had to meet the director of our program and the director of our department and everyone else. I honestly do not remember everyone’s name or what their role is and why they were important for us to meet. They were all very kind and asked us how we were doing in regards to jet lag. Honestly, It was so hard for me to stay awake towards the end of the day. I could barely keep my eyes open through one of the meetings.
By the time we got back, it was only around 4PM, but I allowed myself to lay down for just a minute and ended up falling asleep. After that, we decided maybe it would be best to just try and wake up earlier in the morning. I had an apple and went to bed around 6PM and got up around 7:40AM. I did wake up at about 10PM and thought I must have slept for four days straight because of how good I slept, but I still had a lot of sleep left in me.
The next day we proceeded to meet with a lot of professors and other important faculty members of the college. We were even invited to have dinner at the Principles house. Before that, we spent the majority of the day shopping for “kurtas” to wear to our field placements. There were so many options and so many beautiful colors and designs. It was very difficult to decide which ones I liked and to stay within my budget, although we did find some decent sales!
We left in our nice new kurtas for dinner at the principle’s house a little early to take pictures of the campus and with each other. Unfortunately, as soon as we stepped outside we realized that we would definitely need to learn how to use the flash on our cameras because it was dark! It wasn’t even 7:30PM yet and it was dark. Now, I realize that at home right now it gets dark around 5PM, if not earlier. But I guess we were just thrown off by the heat and expected that because it was so hot out, the sun would stay out later. But we were wrong! It was fun trying to take pictures in the dark though!
At the dinner with the principle another group of college students from the states joined us. They were taking a class for their “Jan term”. I did not get to talk with them very much, but I did get to chat a little bit with a faculty member in the social work department and a political science professor from Appalachian State that reminded me of my favorite political science professor from home.
So now you’re probably thinking, okay that’s cool, but what about the food? Let me tell you about the food! Honestly, I was a little afraid of Indian food because I knew coming here how spicy it was going to be and how I do not tend to eat very spicy food. However, we have been full blown thrown into the Indian food and you know what? It doesn’t have to be spicy! I really enjoyed a cauliflower gravy that we had on the first day. Then again, if anyone knows me, they know how much I love my cauliflower.
One of the most important drinks besides water that we learned about is the fresh lime soda (pictured to the left). You can get this just sweet, or sweet and salty. Ironically, most students from previous semesters have only liked it sweet, but my small group loves the salty one! I have some foods pictured about with captions on what they are. One of the most popular food items is naan (pictured to the right). Now, if you have never tried naan, you better go find a place where you can because it is the best flat brad I have ever had.
What I have noticed about the culture is how important meals are to the community. You eat with your hands and split dishes when out to eat.
The picture to the left is chicken tendoori. The sauce in the middle of the plate is kind of minty, but I loved it! In the other picture, the rice dish is called biriyani and is basically rice cooked with a meat. Underneath all the rice is a giant chicken leg! The other dish is a gravy called paneer butter masala. The masala was my favorite as well. Lastly, the picture with the little silver bowl that has little white dots in it, is sauf sugar coated fennel that tastes like licorice. It is given at the end of meals, just as we would get our olive garden mints. People take them in handfuls! They were very good! At another restaurant they actually gave us mini sugar cubes too!
As much as I would like to say the food agreed with me and everything was fine, I simply cannot. You better believe that on the second night at 2:30 in the morning I was sicker than a dog. Actually, I don’t think I have ever felt so terrible before in my life. As I laid on the bathroom floor I found myself thinking, this is it. This is the end. I am going to die because I tried to be adventurous and go to India for a semester, but my weak body couldn’t handle the food.
There was also a point somewhere between laying on the bathroom floor and in my bed that I thought I would not be able to survive the full semester here. In fact, I was one Google search away from finding the cheapest flight home. It’s not exactly “whimping out” if I’m sick is it? I mean come on, health should always come first. However, despite the fact that I was letting these negative thoughts overtake my mind while I was ill, God helped me through it.
After feeling defeated (I will spare you the details), I felt like God was saying “that is what the enemy wants you to think”. I thought about this for a moment. Then realized that I shouldn’t let myself give up so easily just because I got sick within the first week. Despite the fact that it felt like I was dying, I had enough strength to recognize that God was trying to tell me that I cannot do this on my own.
I cannot just go day-by-day in this foreign land and expect to be successful. I simply do not have enough strength to carry on in a place where I have to try extra hard just to understand what someone is saying. I need a supernatural strength, a spiritual strength. It’s the same strength that God gave me to get through all of the other overseas trips I have been on. It is the same strength God gave me through all of my other college semesters.
It was like God had to take away all of my strength to show me that I need to use His to get through this semester.
I spent the majority of the next 24 hours resting and when I was not, I was in class (which was held in our room so that I could stay in bed). It was the reminder I needed to keep inviting God into my daily life. Sometimes we forget to do these things when there is so much change happening in our lives. But God wanted to remind me that despite all of the change, He is that one constant.
There is much more I can tell you about my first few days in India for the semester, but I think I will save it for the next post. What I want to leave you with is to just bask in the presence of the Holy Spirit. Remember that God is good. He is such a giving God. When we are weak, He is strong. When our lives are forever changing, He is forever the same. Where our circumstances seem to defeat us, God reigns in victory because of these truths. It may be hard, but as my best friend texted me this week “Don’t give up!”
Have you ever been held up in chains? Taken captive by the lies of the enemy? Been controlled?
Have you ever prayed for something, devoutly, I might add, and the Lord never brought it to be? It’s not that He ever said a clear “no”, but just led your life in another direction. Or, maybe He did say “no”, but you don’t want to let go of that desire. But in the midst of actually trying to make an effort to let that desire go, or maybe for the chains to be broken, you are tempted to continue praying for it. After all, we are told in scripture to have faith of a mustard seed right?
This is something I have been going through.
Let’s start with a Bible passage. If you have the word of God near you, please open it to Matthew 4. Read verses 1-11. In this passage, Jesus is drawn into the wilderness by the Spirit… to be tempted by the Devil.
I know what you are thinking because I am thinking it to… what the devil?why would the Spirit draw Jesus to the wilderness for that particular reason? We will get to that in a moment, but continue reading with me.
Jesus fasts for forty days and forty nights. Then, Satan comes along and begins to tempt Him. The first thing to notice here is that the Devil calls Jesus by His identity. He recognizes that Jesus is the “Son of God”. Interestingly, in the last verses of Matthew chapter 3 after Jesus is baptized the voice from Heaven says “This is my Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3.17). Take note of the fact that the Devil knows who Jesus is.
Then, the Devil goes on to say, “command these stones to become loaves of bread” (vs. 3). Jesus responds by the one thing He knows by heart (literally). He states, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (vs. 4).
Recognizing that Jesus was not going to fall into that specific temptation, he tries again. What he does next is risky on his part. He quotes scripture thinking that it will most definitely get Jesus to stumble. He takes Jesus up to this very high point and tells him to jump off. He says, “He will command his angels concerning you,” and “on their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone” (vs. 6).
Jesus, was not having any of this. Knowing the Word and the heart of the Father, Jesus states, “Again, it is written, ‘you shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” (vs. 7). Satan was not giving up just yet.
He took Jesus to the top of a very tall mountain that overlooked kingdoms and cities. He told Jesus that if He bowed down to worship him, he would give Him all the kingdoms. But, our faithful Jesus responds with, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, ‘you shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve’” (vs. 10).
Then, the Devil gave up, recognizing that Jesus was not going to give into the temptation.
So, back to my introduction questions. . .
When you feel bound up in chains, or when you are trying to “let go” of that one desire the Lord is clearly saying is not for you, do you ever feel tempted?
When the Devil tries to tempt you does it sound somewhat familiar to what he said to Jesus?
He may say, “if you are a son/daughter of Jesus” or “if your God really is all powerful” then “can’t He makes this happen?” or “then why would He withhold something so ‘good’ from you?”.
This is true. God is all powerful and can do the impossible (Matthew 19.26). But maybe your impossible is not getting this one thing you have been praying for. Maybe your impossible is setting your eyes to Jesus and letting go so that God can bless you in other ways.
Friends, the enemy is just as relentless as God. He knows who you serve. He knows who he’s up against Heck, he knows your name. If he can recognize that Jesus is the Son of Man, then He knows you are a child of God too. And sure enough, he’s going to use that to his advantage. After all, doesn’t it sound more appealing when someone calls you by your identity or name then just “hey kid”?
Another important thing that we need to look at in this scripture and how we can apply it to our own lives is how Jesus responds to Satan each time. Jesus is consistently responding with the Word of God. He’s not just pulling some random knowledge out of nowhere, nope, He’s quoting the very word of God. Specifically, He pulls scripture from Deuteronomy 8.2 in verse 4, Isaiah 7.12 in verse 7, and Deuteronomy 6.13.
Do you know what is so significant about the Word of God? Look at Ephesians 6. In this chapter, Paul is telling the church of Ephesus to put on the armor of God, because they are going into battle. Not a battle with flesh and blood, but a spiritual battle (Ephesians 6.12). Throughout verses 14 to 17, Paul is telling them to put on things that will protect them, a belt, a breastplate, shoes, and to carry a shield. But lastly, he states to pick up the sword. This is what they will be doing their battling with. It is “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (vs. 17).
Jesus used His sword when battling the temptations of the Devil. He is setting a perfect example of what and how we are supposed to overcome and begin to step into deliverance.
Now, back to the reason Jesus was led into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil. Do you remember in the Old Testament where the Israelites were delivered from Egypt? If not, please glance over Exodus 14. In this chapter, Moses parts the Red Sea and the Israelites are led into freedom.
You may recall, however, that things were not “la-dee-da” fine and dandy after that. They were promised this land of milk and honey. But, they were disobedient to the law of the Lord and led into the wilderness for 40 years (woah, that’s a long time). They still had a hard time gripping this concept of the Ten Commandments. They continued to live in their sin, casting up idols and worshiping other gods. In other words, they were unsuccessful in being tempted by the Devil.
That is why Jesus, the perfect image, the Son of Man, the one that reconciles us to the Father, had to go into the wilderness before starting His ministry. He had to be victorious because the Israelites could not.
With all of that being said, friends, we are all going to be tempted. We are all going to be thrown into the wilderness, there’s no doubt about it. How we respond is the key. We need to pick up our armor, including our swords, and fight this battle before us. And we can pray the part in the Lord’s prayer that states “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil”, knowing that Jesus already reigns in victory!
I know I have missed the past four days or so of blogging, but the truth is, I really have not made time for it. I let other things become the priority instead. But I guess we all slip into that at some point in our lives don’t we?
It’s a human thing really.
Today, I turn 21. It is my 21st year of being on this Earth that God created. 21 years of breathing, eating, sleeping… It feels like just yesterday my best friend and I were driving after a shopping trip saying how crazy it was that we just turned 16 and could drive ourselves.
The thing is, I never really looked at my birthday as a start of a new year or anything like that. Not like we do New Year’s. I’ve never really thought to myself that I had a goal before I turn the next set of digits and get another year older. But this year I was challenged to look at things differently.
This thought may have come up just because I am reflecting on who I was a year ago. I look back and see how much I have grown- both spiritually and personally. I look at the picture of who celebrated my birthday with me then and compare it to the friends I have plans with tonight- they are all the same. There is something about consistency in relationships despite personal change that really speaks to my heart.
It reminds me of our individual relationships with God.
Even though I am someone completely different then who I was exactly one year ago today, my friends are still the same people and those relationships have deepened.
In scripture we are constantly reminded that Christ is making us like Him in His image. He is working us to complete perfection for when we are to enter the gates of Heaven and see Him face-to-face. But despite our growth and changes, in an constantly changing world, God is always there with us. In fact, we even grow closer to Him. It is such a breath of relief to know that.
I have never set a goal for myself between birthdays, but this year I am going to. It’s not a goal like lose x amount of pounds, less Netflix and chill, or stop spending so much money on unnecessary Starbucks. It’s a goal that actually has no end. It’s a lifelong goal, but I am setting in expectation that I will see growth in one year from today.
This next year, I want to grow spiritually. I want to be taken into the throne room with my Jesus. I want to see HIS face and hear HIS voice. I want to be covered in HIS blood everyday of this next year and to recognize HIM. I want to be a person of peace that has faith in the LORD. I want to be saturated in the Spirit.
It’s not about being a certain amount of spiritual. It’s about becoming closer to Jesus, my Beloved and my Friend. I want to be so close to Him that I don’t miss a thing He has for me. I want to be so immersed in all that He has for me that I stop worrying about my future plans and finances, but give up control and trust in Him.
I want to know Him as the Good Shepherd, the Lord of Hosts, and my Beloved.
Isn’t this something you desire to? Don’t you want to be intimate with the one that created you? Think about it, we have the opportunity to be in unity and relationship with the creator of the entire universe- doesn’t that make you want to just seek HIM?
He is the only King that literally left His throne to die for us. He loved us that much. I want to love like Jesus. I want to be saturated in that love more and more each day.
Psalm 73.23-24 reminds us of Jesus constantly being with us:
Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory.
Friends, family, brothers and sisters in Christ, people on the other side of the world that may be reading this, join me in seeking our Father in Heaven with all that is within me. Let’s be saturated in the Lord together.
So I know this one is a day late and I’m probably a dollar short, but hey, we all have those days right?
Something that spoke to me yesterday is this concept of YOLO- You Only Live Once. I’ve never really liked this phrase because it connotates that you might as well do the thing because you won’t get to again. But I want to challenge that.
I was at a Bible study yesterday morning and the speaker began talking about what you think JESUS will ask you when you finally get to the gates of Heaven… many of us think He will ask us about our service, prayer life, and devotion to Him, but what if He asks about something else? Like come on, God has placed so much good on this earth, what if He wants to talk about that?
Like, I really enjoy coffee, books, and being outdoors, since JESUS is the man that wants to invest in every. Single. Person. I feel like He would want to know what we enjoy and maybe ask us about it… man, imagine getting to Heaven and Him saying “did you enjoy the coffee? The thousands upon millions of books? The hammocking and hiking?”
God has given us these things to enjoy. So, back to YOLO…
If you only live once, don’t you want to make the most of it? Like, enjoying these good things God has given us?
There’s a song that says “you only live once so you better live it well”. I don’t want to walk through life stressed, defeated, and bored. I want to step out and be adventurous, trusting that my God, my ABBA Father in Heaven, is leading the way day by day.
That being said, I’m going to enjoy my coffees, books, and outdoors. I’m going to YOLO right on through life, but I’m going to YOLO for Christ.
So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. | Psalm 90:12