The first week back at school always proves to be a very thought provoking week. On this first week back I’m focusing on how much my life has changed in the last year; from fall 2012 to fall 2013. This process of thought was brought on by the haphazardly scrolling through the photos in my phone. As I started flipping the pictures down and worked my way to the top of the list, older photos started to arise. As I started to see shots of trees and hunting areas I noticed a few that I had taken a blackmail. Those photos were of my dad, dressed in camo, holding a large white mushroom that stood out among the trees while we were “deer hunting”. At that time I started trying to remember exactly when we went out hunting, to no avail. But a realization hit me right after that thought. “That had to have been 1 to 2 months before he died”.
I have gone 9 months without my best friend, after spending 12 months without him, ending just a few months earlier. Just the thought makes my stomach churn. At the time the pictures were taken it never crossed my mind that in under 2 months I’d never be on another hunting trip with him. The fact is in fall 2012 I didn’t spend much time at all with my parents, particularly my dad (unless we were hunting). Most of the time we kind of avoided each other. But deep down we knew the other loved us. And that’s all that mattered.
1 Corinthians 13:13, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
Part of being in ministry is listening to God….all the time. So when you decide to explore a life option and God steps in and says not to do it, you should listen.
In June I decided that I couldn’t afford to go back to school, start a family without first paying off some school debt. So I applied for a full time job in a factory. To my relief they didn’t call….until 3 weeks ago.
The call happened, the interview happened, the orientation happened, and then the first day of work happened. Everything was going good until the 3rd day of work, and that’s when God happened…
I was spending some quiet time with Him and He said that I wasn’t where I needed to be, and how if I’m doing what I thought was right to provide for myself I wasn’t fully relying on Him. It was also that time that I was told that I needed to go back to school and let God deal with the worry about the debt. The verses about storing up treasures on Earth instead of Heaven poured through my mind.
Early the next week I was again prompted to spend time with God. This time it was so He could reiterate what He said the previous week about me attempting to provide a steady future on my own and how that wouldn’t glorify Him. But there was a new message as well, the message that if I know what God says and know what He is calling me to do but I don’t do it immediately, it’s disobeying God and is seen as a sin. That hit me hard. How could I claim to be a Christian and a Pastor, yet blatantly disobey God in order to make myself and my family happy? I couldn’t…..so I did the one thing that I didn’t want to do. I put the money, and the happy family behind me and bowed down before the King of Kings, and The Provider of my needs in humble obedience.
I’m reminded about the first disciples and how Jesus called them to Him. They heard God speak, dropped what was in their hands, and instantly left all family, money, and security to follow the One Who Brings Life.
My prayer is that more people in todays world recognize the calling of God in their life. I pray that as we hear God we aren’t afraid to drop everything and focus solely on Him. He alone can, and will, provide for all of our needs if we choose to fully rely on Him.
Strength and weakness. Such a simple saying, but the implications can be monuments. In trying times you can find strength within the weakness you feel if you know where to look.
The way God moves in things is so amazing, yet it’s normally in the things that go wrong that I see God more. I hardly ever see God in things that go perfect, mainly because I am too busy looking at myself for doing such a good job.
But what I need to remember is that it’s Christ IN me that makes things go well. That being said, as genuine Christians, we need to start looking within us at the Spirit that is able to do so much more than we are able to do on our own.
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9
Here I sit, on the edge of a wall staring at a fountain in the middle of campus. It’s 9:47 pm and I should be doing homework, but I can’t. Today is a special day to me, and many more like me. It’s a day that nobody can take from us. Sitting on this wall I realize, once again, how alone I am. The memories and feelings start to flow out from the cracks they have slid into, and back into plain sight. I think it was this time last year that I learned not to cry at death, but to let my anger overrun it. You can’t cry or show sorrowful emotion if you’re waiting for an opportunity to “make things right”. Never before in my life have I felt the emotions run through my veins, and God willing, I never will again. I don’t remember the exact time, or even what our mission was, all I know is we weren’t at our base when we finally heard the news. Not too long after my convoy drove past the part in our city a VBIED detonated in an attack against my brothers, and if I dare say it, friends. We were used to just barely missing attacks and at first I don’t think it hit me, but when the finally news reached us, and we headed towards home, I wanted nothing more than to kill anyone in my way. I knew hat I had a “switch” that I could control my urges with during the deployment, but in this instance it wouldn’t turn off. I couldn’t stop wishing I could hurt “them” like they hurt “us”. I know it’s not the Christian thing to think or even admit, but it’s true. As we were controlling the ECP of our base in order to give our other brothers a break, due to the situation, I remember hoping another attack would happen. I wanted to be the “hero”. It wasn’t until after everything calmed down and went back to normal that I realized I needed to change my thinking. Through lots of prayer and wrestling with myself and God I finally found my balance and my “switch” started working again. But as I reflect on what today means to me and the significance it plays in my life, I can’t help but mourn and even let’s some of that resentment back out. I want to cry, but there are no tears, I want to yell, but have no words…but those 3 KIA and 5 WIA will never be forgotten by me or any of their other brothers and sister. 4/4/12 OEF, A Day That Will Live In Infamy.
To Yearn: (GR) To Long For, Desire (H) Failing with Desire
To Pursue with Love, To Long After Longing, Longing For
To Lust, Harbour Forbidden Desire
To yearn for God is such an important part of being a Christian. But until we understand what it really means and looks like it won’t be an important part of our relationship with our Savior.
That being said, we can see above what to yearn means, but the question is how can I yearn for God presents itself? And more specifically what does that look like?
It comes as no surprise that one can’t yearn for something they’ve never experienced. That would be like a baby yearning for a steak, when they’ve never been able to experience it. To yearn for God’s presence, you have to have experienced it and spent time in it. This can be done through simply being still…which can be harder that it sounds. For me this can happen by being alone in a quiet place, by reading Scripture and meditating/praying about it, or even sitting with a friend and talking about the things of God over coffee. This past weekend I did just that. At a youth conference, instead of going to an endless amount of classes I spend some invaluable time with a fellow God lover and youth ministry volunteer from the church I was attending. This time was unmistakably orchestrated by God to encourage and build each other up in many different ways. We were both extremely blessed by the opportunity to spend time in fellowship in the midst of God’s presence. The entire weekend ended up being the same way. Instead of going to classes to learn about God, we went and got coffee and even meals while experiencing God. While many people spent all day in classes trying to learn about God, my friend and I weren’t just learning about God, but we experienced Him. I find myself yearning for that time again. Though I realize that we can’t always have what we want, but it makes me actively seek the next moment that I get to sit in the presence of my Lord completely open to His nudging.
Tomorrow starts the 40 days preceding Palm Sunday with Ash Wednesday. During these 40 days Christians observe fasting, prayer, reflection, spiritual discipline, and moderation (or giving up) of something. Following this is the Holy Week, the week of Easter, which is marked by continual fasting by some followers.
What I’m attempting to do this Lent season is fast once a week (with an emphasis on prayer during that day) and give up all beverages except water. In this I hope to also spend a lot more time in study of the Scriptures, and reflecting/blogging/writing in my prayer journal. I urge anyone who desires to grow closer to God to spend serious time with God in these coming weeks. You’ll never grow if you aren’t intentional about it.
Take time to remember the importance of this time of year and reflect on it’s implications for your life, and even what it means for everyone around the world.
So here it goes….I’m in the big leagues now! I thought I’d check this place out and see if it’s better than my previous blog site, time shall tell.