how has my faith been this summer? this summer has been an interesting one, to say the least. my faith has been so up and down… the constant seesawing is exhausting… and i just want to stop…
after kenya, i was excited about who Jesus was and what he had in store for me. i was coming back from a third world country where people with nothing worshiped as if they had everything. i wanted that passion. i challenged myself, if i had nothing in this world, would i still praise Jesus? if i had no family, no support, could i still worship? if everyone around me was successful, and nothing was going right for me, would i still give God all the glory? I asked God to show me to love Him the way they loved Him. at the back of my mind, i thought that’s a dangerous request to make, Janet.
God really takes your challenges to heart. the second i came back, i fell into a period of deep loneliness. it was left over from hurt that i had faced the last year in school, but was mainly was stemming from the fact that my family moved churches for the first time since we moved to texas. it’s been hard to find a new church. my parents go to one church, my brother stayed at our home church, and i have tried various churches throughout the summer, failing to find one where i felt i belonged. without a “Christ loving” community to call my own, my faith faltered more and more. i grew bitter and sad, and the enemy found it much much easier to attack me. i believed that i was unworthy of love, of community. i put myself down and refused to believe that i was the image of Christ. i hurt myself, and others in the process. my jog with Christ slowed to a walk, slowed to a few steps, slowed. i felt like i was going backwards. i was angry at God, questioning what he was doing in my life. yes, i wanted to love like i had nothing, but i realized i still wanted everything.
fast forward to july 14th.
the next day, i was to go to a retreat with a friend’s youth group to help lead worship. i sat at my piano, staring at the keys and thinking, what am i doing? why am i going to stand on worship team when i’m not sure i can worship God completely and genuinely? i was so ashamed. however, at the retreat, being the loving being that He is, God began to break through to me. the sermons centered around walking by faith. i realized that i had not been walking by faith. i had sins chaining me down, i had confessions that i had yet to make. i had hurt buried deep in my heart. i had been resisting God, and in that process, i had hardened my heart. but God began to tap at those walls, creating chips and cracks. i poured out myself to God, and He responded. i confessed my sin, my acceptance of the enemy’s lies. i repented for not being the daughter He had called me to be, and believing the enemy rather than my God. the song broken vessels hit hard.
i came back refreshed and ready to tackle life. i immediately failed. following God is a hard thing. i realized how easy it was to go back to my past sins, and how subtly they crept up on me and consumed me. hating myself, putting myself down, blaming myself, subsequently dragging others down with me… i was so frustrated… why couldn’t my flesh just die?
and then last night, something happened in my personal life that completely rocked me to my core. i realized that i have not been giving my God my all. i realized that he is a God of undivided attention. have you ever noticed how almost every worship song talks somehow about giving Jesus our all? take everything, God. you can have my life. nothing matters but You. i desire only You. i don’t think i consciously processed what those words meant. give your all to me, janet.
i was a mess last night, to be completely honest. it was the pinnacle of my flesh battling my spirit. God asked for everything. He reminded me (still is reminding me) that nothing belongs to me. it is all His, and at the end of the day, i need to lay what is His down at His feet. i flipped from book to book in the bible, reading any scripture that came to my mind. do not be anxious. do not store up your treasures on earth. the kingdom of heaven is so much more than the treasures on earth. where your treasures are, your heart will be also. i kept reading, kept reading, kept reading. i needed something. but i kept feeling this feeling of emptiness. out of desperation, out of bitterness, out of my soul’s weeping, the words everything is meaningless came out of me. what use is loving something if God is not at the center of it? what. is. the. use? i desired this thing so badly, this thing called control… i wanted to be in control of my life, my future, my relationships. i was gripping stability so hard that nothing else mattered, and God was not pleased. my heart was divided. half His, half mine. janet, but your heart wholly and completely belongs to me… i prayed over and over that God would take everything off of my hands. that he would take what was His. that i could find peace in giving everything up. that i would believe that God would transform what i was clinging on to, and give me something so much sweeter, so much better. but it’s… so … hard.
this morning, i was sitting at my piano, and i started to play the worship song good, good father. you’re a good, good father.. it’s who you are… and i’m loved by you.. it’s who i am. my voice broke when i was singing those words. desperately i want to believe them. i want to be assured, not only in my brain, but in every essence of my being, that my father is good. that he has the best in store for me. whether what i am giving up is returned in a purer state, or kept by my Father… i want to rest in the knowledge that He knows what is best… earlier today, i opened my bible once again. i read through matthew, and noticed something i hadn’t noticed before. throughout the gospels, Jesus predicts his own death many times. however, he also foretells his resurrection. yet the disciples are distressed. in matthew 17:22-23, Jesus says, “The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day”. i thought immediately of how there was the promise that Jesus would be back. why were the disciples distressed? what was there to worry about? he was coming back! and at that moment, God spoke to me. that is you. i’m telling you to give up your life, to pour out your cup so that i can fill it up with something better. janet…i have promised you something so much better. why are you distressed? what are you worrying about?
i am just now realizing, just now getting a taste, of what it means to follow God. to consider everything else meaningless. that if Christ is not only at the center of everything, but saturated in every single thing, it is meaningless. it is bound to fail. but when God is present in every second, every inch… it is so good. it is so worth it.
the cry of my heart is that i be like Jesus, of course, but also to be like abraham. in genesis 22, God tests abraham. He tells abraham that his son, isaac, doesn’t belong to him. God wants him back. and abraham obeys. in the end, God blessed abraham for his faith, for his fear of the Lord. i want obedience like abraham. i want obedience like Jesus, that when he so greatly did not want to drink of the cup of wrath, that when he was so afraid of taking on the sins of the world, he still asked that God’s will be done… i want to give God my undivided attention.