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 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.
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.
Hello there dear reader! I hope your day is going well, it’s a tad rainy here (which is fantastic), but I hope you are enjoying your day during this spring season. This past week I had a lot on my mind. I have papers to write with the end of the semester coming quick, and I was preparing a message I had an opportunity to give Sunday night with our youth. Throughout the week I will typically have God speak to me and give me a topic to write on Monday morning, but this week, I felt like I heard nothing. I was a bit frustrated, because in the two-ish years I’ve been doing this, I never really struggled with having a topic. I chose not to give up. I got up this morning and began my drive to the coffee shop I write in, and it hit me. It was so obvious about what I could share. You’ve most likely guessed because of your detective skills being able to see the title of this post, but I decided to write about hearing the voice of God. There are many misconceptions about what it looks like to have God speak to us and how we can listen to what he is trying to tell us. It was so apparent that I needed to write about this because I read a verse the other day that I pretty much just looked right over, but there is so much truth to it. It’s a verse that tells us how we can listen to the voice of God and shift our behavior when we don’t feel like God is there at all. James 1:19 says,
“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”
Recently, I’ve been scared. There’s lots of scary stuff going on in my life. End of the semester stress, graduating this year, starting a job to fund raise for a future career of ministry, and simply wanting to do what God has called me for. I’ve been scared, but God is bigger than my fears. This past week had many cool moments occur. I learned that I had the chance to speak at our high school ministry, I had a great conversation with my campus pastor, and I had a chance to pray over people in our city. That’s the moment where it happened, where a simple thing hit me in my moment of feeling weak. Prayer. One of those basic things we have in our walk with Christ. So simple, yet often I overlook the importance of prayer. In my season of fear I have been praying a lot, asking for a sign (some kind of neon lights in the sky to point me) I have been wanting all the answers to my life immediately. God doesn’t work on my schedule. Aww man! But it would be so much nicer, I mean, I know what’s best for me! That’s my human side, and it’s many of your reactions too, well maybe you don’t whine, but you get the idea. In all of my fear, I am choosing to pray, because when I choose to humble myself, then the Lord works.
This past week I went bicycling on the Virginia Creeper trail. It was a blast of a day trip. I woke up at six, carpooled with Danielle at seven, and then spent the day riding up to the trail. We arrived at a cute little bike shop and road up the winding path with an old bus driver who told us all about his grandchildren and great grandchildren. The drive took about a half hour, then we began our trek down. The weather had fooled us, so we were a bit colder, causing us to layer up and for me to use Danielle’s extra socks as gloves (Hey, I mean whatever works, right?). We road our bikes in the cold and stopped a few times to warm up our frigid toes. We survived on Fig Newton’s (the only restaurant on the path was closed) and luckily only had my chain pop off once. It was a long journey, which took us around three-ish hours as opposed to the half our ride up, but the journey was worth it. I think the same is true in our own lives. God gives us desires and passions in our hearts to do amazing things, but the journey can often seem to be never ending, but there is a purpose in our journey. The long journey is worth the wait because God shapes who we are in moments of wandering.
I’ve been struggling with anxiety and depression over the past few months. I’ve been so afraid of the future and the path I will take over the next months after school. The stress of trying to finish well but not have a clear direction after this season scares me, it makes me feel like I am failing at my purpose. All I desire is to write words that will inspire others and serve the next generation in ministry, but the path is so unclear and that’s what makes it so difficult. That’s the reason I need Christ more than ever. It’s the reason we all need Christ more than ever. This past week I was worshiping with my brothers and sisters and received prayer of encouragement for this struggle I’ve been facing. After this I prayed with Matt the artist. I call him this because he truly thinks in abstract ways like an artist, and we prayed together in an abstract way. We prayed to look for the moment of origin for anxiety, and when I found it, he asked me to now put God in that situation. Everything changed. You see, Matt the artist helped me understand that I can’t go about things on my own, my foundation needs to be focused on my savior. Our focus needs to be on the foundation of our life.
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.
One of the biggest questions people ask is, what is my purpose? This question drives us, causes us to move towards what we want to attain. We are unique people designed for more than simply existing. We are unique people, created by God, with a purpose. Our purpose is to love God with everything that we are and treat other the way we would want to be treated. Last week I wrote a post about this idea, but now we are left with a new question, what now? We have the broad idea, an outline for how we should live our life, but how can we truly narrow down the way that our unique talents can be used to grow the kingdom? You see, there is an idea that I have been think about and kicking around in my head (not physically, that would be kinda nuts), it’s the idea of being dedicated. This past Sunday was baby dedication Sunday at my home church of Daystar. It is always a cool thing to experience, parents take a class to think about what they will do to help their child grow spiritually, and choosing verses that they want to pray over their child and write a letter to them as a prayer for their future. As I sat in service I was struck by the word of dedication. The definition of the word is, the quality of being committed to a task or purpose. This struck me, and inspired me to dive into the quality of being dedicated to a purpose.
There is something I have noticed in the bible. Over the past year I have been reading the works of Paul and focusing in on the wisdom that he had when it comes to a relationship with Christ. He is such a powerful writer, his letters went to each place where he addressed key aspects of their life that they needed to re-order. Each book is a letter, which caused me to stop and think, I love writing (I mean, why else would I do this each week!) and often I will analyze how another writer works because I want to grow my skills. My brain started thinking about Paul, and there is something that he does in each letter, each book that he authored in the bible, which have one common device. In each letter, he opens with a personal greeting to each of the churches, and ends with a final charge for that church. The content is different, but the opening and closing are always intentionally the same. He personally calls out to each church and ends with a prayer over them and gives them credit for the work that they are doing and continue to do. You see, I think Paul knew something very important, something that we as leaders in our communities need to understand and realize, the pieces make up the puzzle.