Wow, it’s been one incredible year! Today I turn 23, my Michael Jordan year according to Danielle, hopefully no Looney Tunes need my help to play basketball. It’s not gonna end well for them (Shouts out to “Space Jam”). This isn’t like one of my normal posts, I simply wanted to reflect on some of the amazing things from this year. God has done incredible works in my life and the lives to the people who are close to me. This past year I basically graduated from UNCG (wrote a post about the one class I have to complete), which was an awesome picture of how God helped me through my studies. That was always a stumbling block for me, and can you believe it, I even want to get a master in divinity over the next couple of years!
“Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
One of my favorite things at my home church is when we get to have baptism Sunday. Baptism is a public declaration of the choice to follow Christ in your life. It’s an incredible picture of our walk with Christ, dying to self and laying down your life for a bigger purpose. I absolutely love the Sunday’s where this happens, because you get to hear the stories from the lives of people all around us in the church. This last week where we had baptism was one of the best days, because I was given the opportunity to baptize my little brother. Now he isn’t my brother by blood, but the brother of one of my best friends. I’ve known since he was in third grade, and in the past year have been able to hang out and mentor Jack. Then a few weeks ago he asked me if I would baptize him, he told me that he a had made a commitment to Christ, but it was time to make it known. That’s the cool thing about baptism, it shows that we aren’t turning back. Even when life gets hard, we have this moment in time where we make it public with our intentions, and we have fellow believers help us in the hard times.
Have you ever been in a funk? You know, like you don’t feel quite like yourself, your mind tends to not be as focused as much, and you feel like you aren’t making any ground in your endeavors. I’ve been in a funk. The past couple of weeks have been kinda sloggy when I sit down ready to move, my brain decides it doesn’t want to go as fast as my heart. It’s hard, especially being a writer and loving to do creative things, but it’s not just with being a writer. My spiritual walk has felt this way too. I sit down and ask God to speak, but I end up reading the words and not hearing. I ask if something is wrong with me, I wonder if I’ve upset God in some way, or focus on my past rather than trusting God in my future. I felt like I was doing something wrong, and I was beginning to feel depressed. Many of us have faced times like this in our lives. Asking if we are doing the right thing or if we are where we’re supposed to be. We need to step back. You are exactly where you are meant to be. I am exactly where I need to be. The enemy moves to steal, kill, and destroy. He doesn’t want the good things that God is doing in our lives to encourage us, he wants us dead. We need to break free.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
Being dehydrated is one of the worst feelings. We need water to live (hopefully you know that, and if not, you’re welcome!), without it we suffer. The reason I thought about this is often in our walk with Christ we become dehydrated, we forget to fuel ourselves with the one thing we need in order to survive. My sister Beth was over at a family dinner and she made the comment about hydration saying, did you know that being thirsty is the last sign that you’re dehydrated? Not the first sign, the last sign. That made me think, the moment I start to need water, when I start growing thirsty, I haven’t even noticed my body suffering before that point. The same happens in our relationship with Christ. I want to let that sink in. We go through our lives seemingly getting by, without even realizing we are starving. We are in need of being hydrated in Christ and don’t even realize it.
A little over a week ago, I had the chance to go to a wedding for two of my friends, Jonathan and Abbigayle. The wedding was in Ashville, North Carolina, which is about three-ish hours away from where I live in Greensboro. So, on a brisk Saturday afternoon, my girlfriend Danielle and I began the long drive. As we are on the cusp of autumn, the weather was beautiful (I always prefer cold grey days). We goofed around on the drive and shared lots of laughter, weddings are always days filled with lots of smiles and I think God intends for that to happen. When we arrived at the venue, we realized that it was the foundation for a new church building (How fitting is that!), and we then saw a few of our friends there. We got there early (As you should at a wedding), and as we were sitting outside, it began to rain. Not a downpour, but still rain. Smarter people than us had their umbrellas ready, all we could do was laugh. Then in a moment, the rain stopped, just as the ceremony began. As the two stood at the altar, the clouds separated just a small bit and allowed for the sun to paint a beautiful picture in the grey sky.
Change is a scary thing. Whenever we endeavor into the unknown, there is a trepidation that goes along with it. Meaning that there is a level of anxiety and fear that comes with any change. This is mainly referring to big changes, the change of toothpaste you use or how you want to wear your hair today doesn’t really fill us with much fear (unless of course you go from minty to fruity in your toothpaste selection, yuck!). There are big changes we all have in life. New jobs, next steps in relationships, going to a new school, and of course, when God calls us into something unknown. Many times, we have our lives going in one direction and then God shifts us into new territory. Currently, I am going through this, I was wanting to get away from Greensboro but God called me to this city to help usher in a youth awakening (in the coming weeks I can speak more into what part I’ll play into that). The thing that can be so difficult is that change is scary, and often, it is easier for us to ignore it. Today I don’t want to ignore change, I don’t want you to ignore it either, I want us all to embrace change.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Life is hard. That’s the simple and sad truth about it. We go through struggles on a daily basis, life is nonstop and ever-changing, and this can become an increasing struggle that we all face. The truth is, we all have a very real enemy and he does not want us to win. I like winning, winning is fun, losing hurts. Losing makes us question our identity and who we are to the very core of our beings. I’m not simply talking about losing at a sport or at a game of jenga, I’m talking about the moments when we feel we have lost in life. Our hope starts to fade because of that person who hurt you. Each month we can’t understand how to get out of simply scraping to get by. The overwhelming events that life starts to throw our way start to pull at us. Losing hurts. In my life, it can be easy to let drown in my losses, to let it simply control my attitude and outlook on every small detail. The truth is that there is hope, because we have a creator that doesn’t lose, and even if we lost the battle, we have a God that won the war.
“But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.”
1 Corinthians 12:24-26
I’ve been thinking a lot about people recently. Not in a sense of, oh yeah there are other people around me, but more of the fact that there are so many different people all around me. We live in a world where we can have many hobbies, come from different walks of life, and lived through all kinds of events. We are different people that crave community. No one likes to be alone, and no one likes to feel pushed away, yet recently in the climate of our culture we grow secluded and push others based on stupid differences. I have been wanting to write about misfits in community since I did the Misfit series a couple months back, but I couldn’t quite figure out how to say it. Then this past week, a couple of events sparked the words and God spoke to me about some things that are vital in the upcoming season for all of us.
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.
“And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once and for all.”
This new season in my life has become very strange. For the first time in a very long while, I have a direction about where my life is headed. I know it sounds odd, but I have a better idea of what the destination is starting to look like. If you’ve been reading for a while now (thanks!) you know that I have often struggled about the future because it seems like there was no end in sight. It’s not just something I struggle with, but one that many have to face. We are told at young ages to have our lives planned out, but when things don’t go as planned, we freak. We ask ourselves questions as to why this happens, and then we start to look at ourselves. We don’t look at the good about us or the opportunity God can bring, we often turn inward and start to believe that there is something wrong with us. We start to look at the success of others, the nice job, the young couple who just got married, that cool guy who travels the world on social media; it’s easy to look at others and feel like we aren’t worthy. The truth is, we are made worthy.