The Mystery of God… Still Very Much a Mystery (But That’s Okay)

Is God’s will simply what is before us? Or must we carve it out with His guidance?

This question is central to the turmoil that I have been experiencing all day. Turmoil because I felt that I made a decision contrary to God’s pleasure, and that I will surely be punished for it.

The decision was to continue summer school. Doesn’t that seem like the most trivial thing in the world? Isn’t worrying the real sin? And yet I couldn’t feel good about my decision, even though economy and reason were on its side. I figured that this decision could surely benefit God. I can glorify Him in all circumstances, and these seem favorable circumstances, I thought. And yet peace did not descend. The alternative to my decision is what I perceive as God’s will because it is the less attractive one. Does that make sense at all?

Nonetheless, I seem somewhat trapped in this situation. If I do drop, my family will be upset, and why upset them needlessly? Where is this all leading? Surely, God, you could bring good out of that because you can bring good out of anything… But is it the better decision?

And so, I have been entirely unable to find peace. On top of this absurdity. Satan has been at attacking with a vengeance in different ways. He’s really quite relentless. He makes me question everything- including the reason that I choose to follow God. He asks me if I’m really good enough for God, if I’m really good at all. He asked me to join him.

I found myself going along with this way too much. I found myself only distantly admiring God, if at all. Like the tragic old cynic with a face weathered by brushes with demons, who can only exhort her descendants to turn out differently.

But what’s the use in that hopelessness? Why not seek out God and make things right? I knew that I needed Him, more than ever, so I opened His word. I knew that without Him I would be worse than nothing, so I accepted His help. Once again, He was there with open arms.

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (‭Philippians‬ ‭4‬:‭4-7‬ NKJV)

Philippians 4 is awesome, please read the whole thing if you get the chance. I believe this. Yes, Lord, I believe You and I know You are good! It doesn’t matter what I’ve done, You are still the same, You are always the same wonderful God! You are peace, You are joy, You are the antidote to this toxic existence! Oh, please give me the strength to love You! Give me the strength to care! Give me the strength that I don’t have to keep on going! Lord, for some reason I still don’t feel right about my decision; but let me at least stop focusing so much on my own salvation and start focusing on the salvation of others who deserve it so much more than I do. You, in Your gentle way, Lord, win their hearts!

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Holy Spirit, Are You There?

I wasn’t supposed to think about God for seven days, in fact, I promised I wouldn’t. I know what you’re thinking, and believe me, I really, really didn’t want to do it. I almost had to.

Of course, the promise didn’t mean much because I still thought about God. How could I not? Hey, don’t think about elephants. What did you just think about? And it goes even deeper than that. You see, I can’t stop thinking about God because I belong to him.

I still felt so guilty. I still felt so bitter. I felt like I’d betrayed God. I feared he was going to abandon me forever. “You’ve made your bed- now go and lie in it.” I feared that I would die before the seven days were up and be cast straight into Hell. 

And yet, here I am. I don’t think God abandoned me, though. I felt His presence. There were moments that I was absolutely certain of HIs existence and infinite significance. Sometimes, you don’t know just how real God is until others oppose you. Sometimes, you don’t realize how ridiculous and fleeting the world is until you watch someone else continually living for it. 

There were other times that the worldliness took over. I found myself wondering if I really would have a better life without thinking about God, as O had tried to convince me. 

Even now, I don’t feel all that spiritual. I don’t feel the guidance of the Holy Spirit as I’m writing this. I don’t feel “abandoned by God,” but I don’t feel filled completely by Him either. And I can’t help but wonder if it has anything to do with my denying Jesus (but if I’m going to use that analogy, God did forgive Peter. I don’t know- just saying). 

But one thing I do know is this- that every decent thing I’ve ever written on this blog was the work of the Spirit. It wasn’t me, my talent, experience, or “wisdom.” God forbid that I should be prideful or smug! It was Him, it was Him all along. I just pressed the keys. 

Oh, Spirit return to me! I’ll do whatever you say! Spirit, where are you? Fill me, please, like you filled the apostles, like you have been filling emptied souls for centuries! Pick up the pieces of my heart! Scrub the filth from my mind! 

O, Spirit, where are you when we fight on the side of the road with our brothers and sisters? Why don’t you whisper in our ear as we whisper filthy gossip into the ears of our friends? Where is your healing touch when we feel jealous or angry? 

Why does the flesh win, Spirit? Why does it constantly hunger and yearn, even when the Spirit is filled? 

Why can’t we walk in our spirits? Why do we ignore, belittle, and defraud our brothers and sisters? Why is there so much tension, drama, and awkwardness when our spirits are all rejoicing together? Why?

 

 

Wonderful Blessings When I Least Expected Them

I wrote this a couple weeks ago and forgot to post! Reading it now has been a comfort.0

I was in the desert for a while. It seemed that the whole world was just ignoring / judging me. I grappled with it. I tried to understand it in any way I could. What’s wrong with me? Is this a punishment or a trial? Should I discard hope? Love myself? Reach out- no, they’re all better off without me.

I finally came to the conclusion that I should stop thinking about myself so much. 

Then, starting a couple days ago, everything seemed to change for the better. Old friends whom I thought I would never see again started texting me. A family member was nicer to me. An email I sent out a long time ago finally got answered. A couple people very sweetly reached out through the internet. I even had an employer ask me for my resume in an email! 

I was happy yesterday- not just that “Christian joy”- but I was really happy in my own unusual way because I was thinking about how God is taking care of me. After all, all these things happened without me lifting a finger. To me, it’s a sign that He cares and He listens, and yes, that He loves me. 

Where is this all going to lead? I don’t know. I’m sure that it can all end as abruptly as it began. Perhaps my old friends just felt obligated to see me, and it won’t even come to fruition. Maybe the same resume request was sent to everyone or it’s some kind of scam (I don’t really believe I’ll get the job, by the way). Maybe my family will get mad at me and I’ll feel lonely again. 

But you know what? Why should I care? Why does any of that matter? Why can’t I allow this happiness and blessing to bring me closer to God? Why can’t I feel good even though I know that at any moment it can all come crashing down and I’ll feel depressed again? Why do I need more when I already have so much more love than I deserve? 

Why can’t I believe in people a little, for a change? Do all those good times mean nothing? Should I just forget how I feel now and go on feeling disillusioned and bitter? I think not! 

If being content with the pathetic, fleeting joys of this world, that God is merciful enough to let me experience is foolish, then I don’t ever want to be wise. And if rejoicing in the unchanging and all-powerful God even in the worst of times is silly, then shove me in a tiny car with twenty other clowns and call me Bozo.

I only hope that when the inevitable happens, I will be just as happy or even happier than I am now.  

 

Christians Have Feelings Too

Is it just me, or is it hard to know how to process your emotions as a Christian? How do we justify our state of mind before the Almighty?

“Comfort is a hair’s breadth from complacency! Sorrow is the right up there with self-indulgent melancholy! Happiness is next to worldliness; Godly joy is the goal, but this is hard to come by without caffeine and uplifting music.”

“And fear, doubt, and worry, of course, must be repressed at all costs!” 

“And what place is there for depression and mental illness in a Christian?”

What I’ve been trying to focus on lately is the message of comfort.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.[a] If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken; for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.

2 Corinthians 1:3-7 RSV

After all, how can I comfort others if I myself don’t feel comforted by the love of God? How will I ever make a positive influence if I continue to spend my time worrying and sulking? Surely, this is not God’s lot for me. Surely, I must put on a brave face and the breastplate of righteousness and go out there and feel… comforted. But how?

So we are supposed to feel comfort. But Paul also speaks of the afflictions, in his case persecutions. As we all know, afflictions will come. But should we feel afflicted, which makes sense, or should we feel comforted? Or both, at precisely the same time? What?

Jesus cried the night before the Jews put Him to death because He knew it was coming. That is right, the Savior, the Son of the living God, cried. But what does that mean? Well, it couldn’t have been a sin because He is, like I said, the Son of God. And who wouldn’t cry if they knew they were going to be crucified the next day for the crime of serving God? I would probably do more than cry, that’s for sure. 

Are we only allowed to cry if we are being severely persecuted or about to be put to death? What do we do with all these emotions? 

“If you feel it, it can’t be wrong,” someone with flowers in their hair might say. 

Indeed, I feel a lot of things. Guilt, for one, constantly. But is it wrong of me to feel this? Especially if it’s not quickly resolved and the sins repented of? How long are we allowed to wallow? 

2-cor-7-10-web-watermarked

I suppose I should be more serious about this. The answer to these questions may just be staring me in the face. After all, the Gospel is “the good news.” It’s not supposed to leave us feeling lousy about life. 

I guess what I mean to say is that emotions will come. I’m sorry, but even after you are saved you will continue to be sad at times. After all, it is a little hard to be comforted if you were perfectly happy in the first place. But it’s not the sadness that we know and love and remember… or at least, it shouldn’t be. It’s a different kind of sadness. It’s a sadness that we don’t fully believe in, sadness tempered with hope. 

When we come to trust God and let Him work in our lives, we continue to feel emotions, but we are no longer their slave. Or at least, we shouldn’t be… 

That is the difference. We are doing things now for the glory of God, not to satisfy ourselves. Jesus was sad, to say the least. You know, before they crucified him. And I’m sure that, at times, Paul wasn’t too thrilled about being imprisoned. But that didn’t stop them. Why should any little thing that life throws at me prevent me from serving God?

And maybe, eventually, we’ll start feeling different kinds of emotions. Sorrow over our sins (temporary), anger towards Satan, joy in serving the Lord, compassion for the weak, happiness for the success of others. I hope those things will come with time. 

 

From:

A little perspective.com

 

 

Trust: Does It Always Need to Accompany Love?

....why should I trust you?

“Don’t trust anyone. Never let your guard down.”

This is something that I hear all the time, even from other Christians. And it’s not like it doesn’t make sense.

Many of us learn this “lesson” around middle school (or earlier, if you weren’t quite as lucky). I know I learned it somewhere along the way, and I learned it too well. My little friends disappointed me, left me all alone, and since then I haven’t been able to look at other people, or myself in quite the same way. Over time, I went from happy, carefree child to quiet, awkward adolescent (although I can be fun with certain people).

So I can’t really say that I trust people a whole lot. I just wait for them to disappoint me. And when they do, I take their “rejection” personally. “What’s wrong with me? Why don’t they like me? What’s there not to like? What can I change?”

Let’s revisit the love verse. If you are Christian, you’ve probably heard it a million times, but I’m going to post it again because even though I’ve been hearing it for years, it has taken on a new meaning for me lately.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 RSV

Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastfulit is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

The fact is, people are going to disappoint us.  People are going to downright screw us over.

But you know what? In all probability, we will disappoint others as well. Maybe we will even do our share of screwing over.

So here’s an idea. Maybe instead of always wondering what the other guy is going to do next, maybe we should focus more on our own heart, on what we are doing wrong. Maybe it is better to be a naive little fool who trusts people and believes in humanity and isn’t afraid of the devisings of men because her faith in God is positively overflowing.

But how, how is this accomplished? Should we “trust” that our fellow motorists won’t cut us off? But that’s crazy!

Should we “trust” that the creepy guy in the alley won’t mug us?

Should we “trust” that thieves won’t steal our belongings?

Should we “trust” the credit card company?

Should we trust our friends to be there for us? Our family? Our spouse?

Should we trust God?

I’m not quite sure what to make of all this. Personally, I have a hard time believing that people will come through for me because of past experience. My philosophy is, “they probably won’t, but hey, at least God will be there.”

And indeed He will. But should I believe in others too? Won’t that just make it more painful when they don’t come through? (because they won’t… don’t trust anyone!).

I guess it could hurt to try, but maybe I will. I’m not an orphan with street cred or a recent divorcee or a victim of abuse. I’m just another person who learned “the lesson” in some way or another. Maybe I can start unlearning it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back to the Basics- Reexplaining “Christianity”

Sometimes we forget where we came from, who we are as people, why we’re doing the things that we do and why we feel the way we feel. Christians forget too, but the problem is that we forget who God really is. Even if we have all the right answers. Even if we’re towing the line.

This post is really for anyone. If you’re not a believer, if you are a believer, if you know about the “Christian God,” for lack of a better word, or if you don’t know as much.

Assumption #1- Man is sinful

This is where people often start, and I suppose I’ll start here as well. If you don’t see yourself as sinful… well, that’s a pretty common thing actually. I can see why you would think that. Maybe for now, look around you, at the world you’re living in. Do you see injustice? Do you think there’s something wrong with how we “do life?” Is there? I won’t tell you, I’m just asking you.

Unfortunately, if we can’t agree that man is sinful, then it is difficult to proceed. But let’s keep the assumption that man is sinful.

What then? What are we supposed to do about it? What is sin? How do we stop it?

There is a way to answer this question without including God. You can say that we as people can progress towards a more enlightened existence, that is what a lot of people think.

But my question is: how? If sin is based on what you think is sin, how will you convince others to stop doing what you think is wrong? What if they don’t think it’s wrong? What makes you right above others, if there is no objective truth? What is to stop people from acting from self-interest? What if jail time is worth breaking the law to some people?

You can say that there is a universal human code of conduct. A cosmic bro code, if you will. So I don’t expect you to convert to Christianity based on the logic I’ve just presented because I am not the first to put it that way, but if it did make you think…

Let’s go in a different direction, shall we? Let’s make one more assumption.

Assumption #2 The God of the Hebrew Bible is the true God, and Jesus is the Messiah

What goes with assumption #2? That a man named Jesus came into this world oh, around the beginning of the common era, and taught a new and radical way of living. He taught that you should love your enemies and help the poor. He taught that money isn’t important, and he died to show us what is important.

Which is…

Eternal life through the forgiveness of sins.

When Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, the Lord instituted a holiday called Passover. The Passover celebrates how the Israelites were led out of Egypt and how God “passed over” them when he was inflicting punishment on the Egyptians. To this day, Jews celebrate the festival by slaughtering a lamb.

Jesus became a Passover lamb for us. He had compassion on us, on our plight and our rut. He sacrificed himself so God would pass over us too.

If we believe, of course. Belief is where it all begins and ends. Belief engenders love and trust. Belief inspires action.

Matthew 16:16 (RSV)

16 Simon Peter replied [to Jesus], “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

1 Corinthians 15:3 

 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures,

Ephesians 2:8-9

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God— not because of works, lest any man should boast.

Romans 3:21-26

21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from law, although the law and the prophets bear witness to it, 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction;23 since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 they are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as an expiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins26 it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies him who has faith in Jesus.

John 10:11

[Jesus says] “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”

 

Lately, I haven’t been feeling the belief as strongly. I’ve been trying to do things. I’ve been trying to move forward, but I keep feeling Satan holding me back. I’ve been introspective, reluctant, and confused. I haven’t laid it all down before the Lord’s throne. I’ve been wondering what I would do without my burdens. I’ve been wondering how much work I would be doing (because, usually, you can’t just sit there and wait for God to move your limbs) and how much credit I would receive if I just let God do everything.

But really, it’s so simple that it seems like rocket science. I just have to believe in the Lord Jesus and love Him. I just have to do His work. I just have to become attuned to Him, and when I become attuned to Him, I won’t feel the urge to sin… as strongly. And when I become attuned to Him, I will know what to do. Right?

Yes, right. I will have faith. Because with faith…

Matthew 17:20

So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief;[a] for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.

 

 

 

 

 

What Is There To Fear?

I wouldn’t say that my baptism today was like my fairytale wedding to Jesus, but it was special. I did get cold feet in the bathroom of the Cheesecake factory, where I asked myself, is there really a God? But I sorted that out in the car and was happy to get dunked into the holy waters of a jacuzzi.

A lot of people came, which made me happy even though I didn’t talk to all of them. Honestly, I was nervous, because I am usually nervous around people, especially when I am the center of attention.

Now I must once again ask myself this question: why am I afraid of people? I ask myself this every day. I have come up with answers, but not really solutions.

I wish the reason was wholly innocent, but I don’t think it is. I must be afraid of people because I secretly mistrust them. I must subconsciously worry that they will hurt me. But I don’t want them to hurt me. So I naively seek out love and acceptance.

Sometimes I feel like no one really loves me in the same way that they love other people. My family- they love me because they have to. My brothers and sisters- they try love me because God compels them to. My acquaintances- well, they don’t hate me but they’ll soon drift out of my life. God? Well, I guess he loves me.

Clearly, this is the wrong attitude, I am sure you are thinking that, and it’s true, I am ashamed to admit this. Who do I think I am that people need to love me for special reasons? My goodness, no one said that life was going to be a Hallmark movie or a fairytale. And do I always love people for special reasons? No! Do I completely accept people and gloss over their faults? Of course not! There’s a lot more wrong with this way of thinking, I don’t even think I can cover it all. It’s self indulgent and misguided for one thing. There is only so much love and sympathy circulating in the world right now. I don’t really see why I should have it all. Not everyone has a loving family and a million friends, so I don’t know why I seem to think that.

And why isn’t God’s love for me enough? Why, why, why, I find myself crying out. Why don’t I believe that He loves me? Why do I believe that I am so vastly different from everyone else? Why do I believe that I will be a reject for eternity?

And even if I will be a reject for all eternity, even if I will be the one washing God’s feet while everyone else is wearing white robes and singing hymns, my question is “Who cares?”

When did I become the center of the universe? Why does everybody need to love me? No!!! Love God. Love God. Love God. He is enough. It is enough that He is. It is more than enough that I was created to glorify Him.

So I don’t know what will happen to me. I don’t know how psychological and how physiological my problem is. I don’t know if I’ll ever stop being nervous and socially awkward. But maybe I can stop being so afraid. I think there is enough fear and doubt in this world already. Maybe I should also stop it with the introspection, my worst enemy is probably my own mind.