The Whole Heart

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?

Thirst

I did not know how thirsty I was until I took the first sip.

Last night, I had a great opportunity to ride the metro for the first time with some friends. In order to do this, however, I had to skip dinner in the mess hall of where I am staying. I was perfectly okay with this because I was not a fan of the meal being served. By the time the metro fun was over, my group was very hungry. So, we did what any group of friends would do, we stopped for food.

We went to a place that was famous for its biriyani. However, I ordered a parotta because I get biriyani quite often in my mess hall. The parotta came with a reddish-looking sauce that had a whole chili pepper floating in it. I have been a little more gutsy with the spices lately, so I took a bit of my parotta and dunked it like an Oreo in a glass of milk. To my surprise, it was not as spicy as I expected, but it was still higher on the spice chart than what I was used to.

I continued to eat it with no problem. As I enjoyed my meal, I utilized the cup and pitcher of water that was sitting in front of me on the table. after every few bites I would take a sip of the cold refreshing water to help balance out the spice. I did not know how thirsty I was until I took the first sip. It almost became addicting to drink (not that that is a bad thing, right?).

Throughout the meal, I am pretty sure I refilled my cup at least five times. Living in a country where it is almost 100 degrees each day and where the humidity is unbearable, I am encouraged to drink a lot of water. There is much fear that with the heat and the amount of walking I do, that I will fall ill from dehydration. This concept of drinking a lot of water is so hard for me to grasp.

It’s only a struggle for me because of my surroundings. Sure, the heat makes me thirsty and want water more… but what happens when you drink a lot of water? You tend to need a restroom more often than not. At home, in the U.S., I admit, I probably would not have this problem. Then again, when I am there I am not as concerned about my H2O intake either.

The problem lies in the fact that I do not always have a restroom readily available to me. I spend at least two days out of my week in hamlets and villages where most homes do not even have a toilet. Once we are in the main city area, many public places do not have public restrooms. In fact, if they do, such as at the train station, you will have to pay in order to use- and that’s if the bathroom is even working!

On the other days, I have access to a a very nice, and usually very clean, Indian style toilet. If you do not know what an Indian style toilet looks like, please click here. The problem with this is that on those days I am inside and typically under a fan. I’m not usually quenched for thirst and do not think to drink a lot of water. Take heart, I have not yet fallen ill from not drinking enough water.

As I sat in this air-conditioned restaurant, chowing down on my parotta and basically inhaling the pitcher of water in front of me, I became aware of something else. When we go for days on end without spending time with God, we do not realize how thirsty we actually are until we drink from His living well again. 

There are times when we may do a really great job of spending amount of time reading amounts of scripture and saying amounts of prayers. We also have times where x, y, and all equal 0. In these times, we think we are okay spiritually. We say: there is nothing inherently wrong with my life right now and I am trusting God with my future, or, I know He’s with me. Then, we may fall into the thought process that skipping just one day of quiet time with the Lord isn’t going to hurt anything.

Before I go any further, let me ask you something, when you neglect to spend time with someone you love and care about, does that hurt the relationship you have with them?

Exactly.

When we “opt-out” of spending quiet time with God daily, we are hindering our relationship with God. Now, I am not saying that God is forsaking us and is not with us. I am saying that we are choosing to spend time with other things besides God. We are prioritizing other things above God. And that, hurts God.

He longs to spend time with us. He longs to reveal things to us in scripture.

So, back to the concept of water… even though I did not realize how thirsty I was when I was eating, I figured it out when I took the first sip. For too long I had let the environment influence my actions of drinking water. And I suffered from that because I did not get to enjoy the satisfaction that drinking cold water on a warm day gives.

Are you allowing your environment to influence your decision to daily drink from the living well? Are you choosing to “opt-out” of the daily satisfaction you can get from spending time with God each day?

Dear friend, I want to encourage you that even if you have, God is still there waiting for you. He is longing to spend some time with you, waiting to take your relationship with Him further! Render your heart to Him and let Him be your priority.

“‘Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.'”

|John 4.13-14|

Three Simple Words

“Come to me”

These are the words I hear. These are the words that Jesus has been speaking to me.

He says “come to me and I will strengthen you. Come to me and I will make you well. I will feed you. I will quench your thirst. I will fill your cup and give you eternal peace. All you need to do is come to me”.

These are three simple words that are so easy for us to grasp. They are words that we might read over in Matthew 11.28-30. We may skip over the “come to me” to read the part that says “I will give you…”. Before we can receive, we must obey.

These are three simple words where Jesus is inviting us to be intimate with Him. He wants us to share our lives with Him. Just as you may go to a best friend, husband, or mentor, Jesus wants us to seek Him. He wants you to trust Him.

These are three simple words that Jesus speaks to us in our most difficult times where we are tired and worn. When we are weak and need rest.

These are three simple words where Jesus wants us to be obedient so that He can give. In Matthew 11.28-39 Jesus says, “come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light”.

He wants to give you rest. He wants to remove your heavy burdens from you. He wants to bring healing to you. These three simple word offer is a hope of seeking Jesus and exchanging our heavy laden for His easy yoke. Take hold of His light burden and find rest for your soul. Breathe in the gentleness of Jesus and breathe out your burden. Feel the release of what is holding you back.

“Come to me”, He says.

Will you obey?

https://youtu.be/rYQ5yXCc_CA

Saturate Me

// October 16 //

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 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.

Step Out 

// October  11 & 12 // 

I am aware that I completely missed October 11. To be honest, I did not know what to write about. I sat in the prayer room digging through my thick pool of topics, but nothing intrigued me. In fact, I actually ended up falling asleep. I am going to attempt to incooperate both days into one. 

First, I woke up Wednesday morning at 5:30 am to be at work on time. You can bet your bottom dollar that the first thought that went through my mind was “Lord, please let them send me home early”. Well, God answered that prayer and I got to leave two hours early! It was such a blessing and gave me time to rest from being sick. 

Today, I accomplished a personal goal. A few months ago some friends and I that were brought together with the likemindedness of missions gathered around two small tables at the smallest Starbucks I have ever been to to talk about things we could do to spread missions on our college campus. I had this idea of asking students that had been on a missions trip or had cross-cultural engagement experience to speak to other students and share. 

I didn’t think it would ever happen because our missions club fell through for the semester. But God gave me another outlet- through the cross-cultural engagement office that I work at. When I told my boss, he was all for it. 

I began contacting people, applying for it to be a spiritual-formation opportunity (so students grt credit for being there), and just asking the Lord to guide the evening. Well, tonight it finally happened. 

Now, let me tell you, usually when I am trying to lead something or put on an event of some sort, I get aggravated easily when things don’t go as planned or when people don’t respond. But this time was different. I felt so calm about peaceful about it. When a student told me last minute they couldn’t speak, I quickly prayed and God provided another. 

I wasn’t nervous speaking in front of a small group of people, but I actually enjoyed it. The best part, however, was hearing the students speak about their experiences and how God shaped their hearts and lives from the trips they took. It truly was an incredible experience and I am honored that the Lord allowed me to help plan it. 

That being said, I want to encourage you to step out. Take that leap of faith. Trust the Lord with your dreams. He is BIGGER and MIGHTIER than all of your dreams. Know that if you submit to Him, He will bless you greatly and make your dreams come true. 

When we lean on the Lord and show Him our dependence for Him, He opens doors and uses us in ways we never imagined possible. Three years ago if you asked me, I would never have thought I’d even be capable or adequate to put on an event like this. The Lord can take those insecurities and reign in victory over them! 

Step out my friends! Step out! Just like Peter, we too can walk on water when we fix our eyes on JESUS. We just need to step out! 

“Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. Matthew 14.19