Monday, March 14, 2011

obstacles, and other things to be thankful for...

“The one who has My commands and keeps them is the one who loves Me. And the one who loves Me will be loved by My Father. I also will love him and will reveal Myself to him.” –John 14:21

Two weeks ago my Bible study group lesson was about John’s vision of Jesus in the first chapter of Revelation. The part of this particular message that struck me was what happened when John saw Jesus in all of His heavenly glory. John was standing alone on the island of Patmos worshipping God when no one else was around because it was the Sabbath. He had such extreme faith that he stood ALONE on an island where he was sent BECAUSE of his testimony and he worshipped God because that is what he would have done if he was at home. What a powerful message! What a faithful man! So John received a vision of Jesus in his heavenly body, the same John who spent so much time with Jesus when
He was on earth, walking with Him, learning from Him, dining with Him, telling jokes with Him. And what did John do when he saw the heavenly body of Jesus? He fell at His feet AS IF DEAD. He was so taken aback by the beauty of Christ that he FELL TO THE GROUND AS IF DEAD. And Jesus placed His hand on John and said to him “Do not be afraid.” Revelation 1:17 What a powerful message from the resurrected savior! At this point in the Bible study, a Beth Moore Bible study, she goes on to say that every time God tells someone not to be afraid there is always a commission to follow. Not sometimes, not every so often, but always. John’s commission was to write down what he had seen, what was then and what will take place…

I tell you this because God has been telling me to stop being afraid. I had coffee with a dear friend the day after Bible study and excitedly told her about this message. I told her that it was for ME! And she told me to write here about it which I obviously haven’t done yet and the reason is as I told her, I do not know what my commission is yet. I think I just felt silly claiming that God has something He is going to ask me to do because He hasn’t really revealed what that is yet… but I know in faith that it’s the truth, so I’m going to step out and say it anyway.

As I mentioned in my last post, I tried a new church. I know that it might not be a big deal to everyone, but walking into an unfamiliar church building by myself was something that was very daunting to me. I sat in the back row waiting for the service to start and one by one people started coming up and introducing themselves to me, inviting me to sit with them, talking with me like I wasn’t a stranger. It was a blessing to have wandered into a church that was so welcoming because that was exactly what I needed. God is good about that though; and it’s something that I had forgotten since I had spent so much time away from the church and closing my ears off to what He had to say. It was a nice reminder that if you take a step out of your comfort zone for Him in faith He will give you reassurance and love in return. Part of the first sermon that I heard at this church was about using your spiritual gifts to glorify God. One of the verses used was, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms” 1 Peter 4:10 Of course, when I heard this the alarm system went off in my mind and I started veering off the tracks again to the BUT WHAT IF I DON’T KNOW WHAT MY GIFT IS YET?!?!! Luckily, the message was explained that we should be AVAILABLE to use our gifts when the time comes to do so. So I stopped freaking out a bit and focused again on the rest of the sermon. It was a very powerful message, something that I needed to hear and I knew without a doubt that I was in the church that I was in for a reason.

Bible study the next Thursday was the same type of experience for me. Part of the message said that God will allow you to close your ears off to Him if that’s what you choose to do. He will never FORCE you to listen to anything that He says. That definitely struck a chord for me! Here I am trying something new, trying to re-learn how to listen to God and do what I’m supposed to do with my life and there are all of these messages telling me that it’s SIMPLE… just be open to it, be AVAIALBLE. Stop worrying so much about why and how and when and where and just open up your heart. What a relief!

This study also talked about how God offers a promise to those who KEEP overcoming… how your life is a series of obstacles but that the will of God is not for you to live underneath the weight of them but to stand on top of them and KEEP overcoming. I know that a lot of people go to God when they are down and out and everything is going wrong, but I tend to be the opposite. When things in my life are good, I am thankful to God, I give Him credit- I thrive in that relationship… but only when things are good. When things fall apart I tend to step back and tell God that I want to handle it on my own. That’s something that I am working on and I think I have done a great job with it over the past couple of months. It is a struggle for me as I have said to let go of the control in a bad situation. It is how I survive loss, grief, anger, all of it… I choose one tiny thing that I can take care of and when I’m finished with that task, I move on to the next and so on and so forth and I operate in a series of concrete linear duties and I shut off everything else. This particular lesson in our Bible study said that if we have nothing to overcome we cannot be victorious. Something about that resonated with me as I had some things I was overcoming at the time. I felt like this was a positive message that I was moving in the right direction.

1. Listen for God.
2. Keep overcoming!


On Friday I had a conversation with a friend about the fruits of the spirit which I thought was interesting since I had been hearing messages about spiritual gifts and such in the past week and I mentioned that the one I have the absolute most trouble with is forbearance… or patient endurance. As you’ve likely noticed, I want what I want when I want it and how I want it. I want a clear path, a clear plan, a clear procedure, and a clear finish line. So I resolved to work on this…

Friday afternoon came around and I was informed that I had been laid-off from my job. I cried a little, said goodbye to my co-workers, packed up my things, and drove home. As I drove home I thanked God for the situation. Yes, I thanked Him. I knew that this wasn’t a decision that I would have made on my own for myself and I thanked God for making it for me. I might not know what I am supposed to be doing yet… I might not know what God’s plan is for me… I might not know what my spiritual gifts are and how I can use them to glorify God… but I know that I wasn’t using them there.

“And we know in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” – Romans 8:28

The next Sunday at church I attended my first membership meeting and as I waited for the sermon to start I was surrounded by a huge group of new people who were even more welcoming than the week before. I felt at peace in this new place, I felt completely okay with my situation. The sermon was talking about what God’s “love language” is and the pastor said that it was faith. “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” – Hebrews 11:6

It never ceases to amaze me –over and over again that God has so much to say to YOU specifically if you just listen for Him. He speaks through people, He speaks through situations, He speaks through His word. The verse at the beginning of the main body of the sermon was, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.” -1 Peter 4:12-13 Be thankful in EVERY situation. Rejoice. Praise God for opportunities disguised as obstacles. And again, the reassuring message in the sermon was that we cannot have a victory without a battle. Isn’t it amazing that the same message keeps appearing in completely different settings from completely different sources?! Am I the only one that is excited about this?!?! God.IS.AMAZING. But you won’t notice unless you allow Him to show you consistently.

Lastly, I want to say that I have had a very difficult time writing this all down. I have tried MANY MANY times to sit and write some of it and have been so frustrated with my lack of ability to get these words out that finally WEEKS later I had to just sit down and make myself write it. I feel like it is a lot of information to cover, a lot of events that seem like they are written in a very chronological and disconnected style… but I had to get this part of it out because there is so much more than even this that has happened and it just keeps building and building and I know that none of you want to read a 10 page post! I will I’m sure, address some of these things again in more depth but for now this is all I can do. I already have three more posts in my head just begging to get out, so until then… bear with me!

No comments:

Post a Comment