I really love a foggy day. There’s just something about the way light dissipates and creates a haze around everything. It makes me think of chilly autumn days, somethings I didn’t really get to experience down here in Florida. You can see in a general sense of where you are headed, but the details get murky. It’s a fun thing to experience, but only in nature. When it comes to our minds, mental fog can really dishearten and muddle your sense of purpose.
Good story makes all the difference. Have you ever gone to a movie where it just felt off? One of my favorite things is to watch really bad movies, or “b-movies,” and laugh at the ridiculous nature of it. We love good story. It’s the reason why we watch movies and read books, and find ourselves heartbroken, exhilarated, and connected to characters who aren’t even real. This past week, my wife, Danielle and I had a chance to go on our official honeymoon to Harry Potter World and Walt Disney World. It was absolutely incredible. Throughout the trip I kept wondering why I was connecting to the environment on a deep level. Yes, it was fun and a great experience, but there was something more. Something I was quite getting, then it hit me.
Some of my favorite descriptions of words, phrases, and grammar come from Lemony Snicket. I gushed about his books a couple weeks ago, so check it out if you haven’t. One of the descriptions he talks of is the saying, “in the belly of the beast.” It speaks of a figurative feeling one gets when in the middle of an unfortunate circumstance, but in scripture, there is a literal event where one particular individual is in, “the belly of the beast.” Jonah was a man who God called for a great mission, but he trusted his own power and not God’s. Because of this, he believed he could not accomplish it, so he ran. Isn’t that a perfect picture of what we do in our own lives? I’m a victim of it, we have a situation we think we can’t overcome, so we run, we retreat from the promise on the other side of facing great peril. The truth is, we rely too much on our own strength when we should be trusting God. We have a God who created the universe and loves us. You’re right thinking you can’t get through it, but God can. No matter what you’re facing, God can. The calling that looks too big? God can. The mountain in your life? God can. When it feels like the world is against you and there is no hope? God can. We can learn much from Jonah, we can learn how to act in the belly of the beast.
I’ve recently been reading through Hebrews. This is an interesting and powerful book to look at, especially where my life is at currently. There’s a ton of unknowns and struggles that I have to face, it can be hard to trust God in the midst of a storm. In Christian culture, it can feel wrong to question what’s going on in our lives, we have this idea that we can never wrestle with our circumstances. That we can’t cry out to God asking him where he is or why he isn’t acting in this situation. Like it’s some sin to struggle. I’ve heard of some Christians looking down on others because they aren’t having enough faith in this situation. Enough faith? We’re supposed to support one another, not look down because we think we’re better than other believers. Jesus wouldn’t want us to pride ourselves on putting our fellow believers down when they were struggling, he would want us to support and love. Why is this even a thought that we have in the first place though? I’ve been feeling down on myself based on this misconception, am I not a “good” Christian because I ask God why he’s doing what he’s doing? The truth is, this is a lie. Hebrews chapter 11 justifies this because it shows people who lived by faith. They were recorded for their great faith, but every single one of them wrestled with God.
This past summer has been absolutely wild. I’ve finished school, gone to an amazing camp with Kids, been able to serve on a mission trip, and had God give me a vision for my city. Not only that, but more opportunities are coming up over the next few months. I have been able to truly feel the fullness of God’s faith in me. I’ve been looking back and am being blown away at how God has been faithful to me in my life. My church is in a season of prayer called, 21 days of prayer. We are able to come together and pray each morning at 6 am so we can encounter God and pray over our lives. During this time, God has brought this one word up over and over again in my heart, faithful. Not just faithful, but faithFULL. Yes, I know that isn’t how you spell it, but I accidentally misspelled in my journal (don’t judge, we all fall short). As I looked over it, it made me realize the truth in that, I am full in faith because God has continually shown up and radically altered my life in the most incredible ways. God uses me, even when I fear that I’ll never be used, God never gives up on me. The thing is, God never gives up on you either.
This past week has been amazing. I was able to go on my second mission trip after my adventures with camp KidJam (See previous weeks’ post), and spend time with some amazing high schoolers. I’m actually starting to write this post on the van ride back because I can barely contain the way God spoke to me. Throughout the trip, the Holy Spirit spoke to me in one of the most visceral ways, so close I tasted it, it infected every fiber of my being. I love the next generation. If you’ve been reading for a while you know this and if you’ve ever met me you might be annoyed by how passionate I am about it. It’s all I think about. It’s the thing I pray for. It’s the reason I am pursuing this life of full time ministry to empower leaders and lead the next generation to the awakening that is on the cusp of exploding into our world. I had a picture of what and where God wants me to be, and I am confident in the Spirit’s anointing on my life. I was called to a city I wanted to leave and a place where I never expected to build. Maybe I’m talking too much or maybe I shouldn’t share, but I am confident in this anointing and I am confident in the way that the Holy Spirit pursued my heart.
There’s really nothing better than a good hero story. Well, maybe it’s not your favorite, you may like a good thriller or romance story, but for me, hero stories are the ones that speak to me on a deeper level. In all stories with a hero, there is a person who finds themselves with a calling over their life. They have a past which has prepared their heart for what is to come, and because of that past, they feel a need for something higher. Then there is a catalyst, the moment when our individual gains new power. The radioactive spider bites the hand, the farm boy gains the lightsaber, and the slave girl volunteers to enter the death games. For whatever reason, our heroes are chosen to live for something greater, they are chosen to stand for the world they live in. The same is true in our lives. The world we live in is filled with sin, we are a fallen people. There are things that are happening each day that aren’t right, we use our words to tear each other down and we belittle others if they are not up to the same imaginary standard that we try to achieve. We become so focused on self-image rather than looking at those who are hurting around us, but we have a choice. There is always a choice. We have all been chosen. We have been called to do something higher, we have a purpose and that purpose can change the world.
It’s now been a full week into the New Year. How have you done with your resolutions so far? Yeah me either. It’s funny how quick we can lose doing a resolution, so I’m trying to set goals for myself. While these seem similar, my goal is going to be things I aspire towards, where a resolution is a hard start and if you fail, it feels like you have made a huge mistake. I choose to set goals that I want to do daily in order to strive for more out of my life. Last week I talked about the characteristic I choose to take on for this coming year; how I want to be like an avenger. Goals are a bit different. Some goals I’ve set for myself this year are things I want to do that will help me be better at my daily walk. I want to write each day so that I can get better and grow as a writer. I want to read at least fifty pages a day, which is a lot, but I want to continue to read more and learn more through reading. I want to meet more people and learn their stories. I want to spend money wisely and avoid things in life that bring me down. The biggest goal I set for myself this year is this, I want to seek the presence of God each day and step into what he has set out for me.
I love flying in planes. Something about it is so therapeutic, giving me a chance to simply sit back and reflect. Right now it is Christmas day and I am flying with my family up to Wisconsin to visit my grandparents. Wisconsin is fun because it’s cold and filled with cheese (I mean, what’s better than that?!). The past month I wrote about self-image and knowing the worth we all have in Christ. Last week my post was called, So Worth Loving, which was the climax of the series (check it out if you haven’t yet). This week I want to conclude this idea, giving the reasons why I wrote about this topic and share some of my heart with you. Reflecting is a word which here means looking back on where I’ve come from to see how God has moved in all things. That’s the truth in it, in all things that happen in our lives, God has orchestrated that to cultivate us into stronger people. We are all strong people. We have all been through some of the toughest times in life, and we have made it through these chaotic storms. Each of our lives is a story. Our story is a picture of what we have been through and where we are headed. The thing we need to remember is that the creator of the universe is in every piece of our story. We have been made in his image and he has given us the ability to write our stories because of that.
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”
This past month I’ve been doing this little series about self-worth. I’ve been writing because for so long I hated who I was, that I never fit in right. I wasn’t an A student, I wasn’t very good at sports, and I had a love for stories. I didn’t feel like I fit in, I felt worthless, I felt like I had no purpose in life. I was being attacked by the enemy and I was living like he had won. The truth is, our enemy has been defeated by a creator that says you are so worth loving. In the moments where I felt worthless, I had the creator of the universe telling me that I was created in his image. This same God created each of us in his image, and because of that, we have victory over the lies of the enemy. We are unique creations. We were not created to fit into the mold of the world. I say this to give hope to the kids that felt like me, to the ones who love being nerdy, write poetry over playing on the field, and love learning about the world around them. Maybe you feel like an outsider. Maybe you have a passion for people, that you love to write stories with worlds filled with infinite possibilities, or that you have a desire to make music that rings in the ears of so many. I believe in this world because I believe we have a God that made us all unique individuals with purpose. Maybe you love running on the field and feel at peace when you play, maybe you have the heart to heal others and invent new ways to help those that are sick, and maybe you love to dance and express your heart for the world. No matter what you desire and love doing, you have been created by a God that says you are so worth loving.