I recently auditioned to play violin in my school’s chapel services, and I came away with some realizations that I simply must share with you!
1) I was reminded once again how insecure I really am and how much I crave acceptance from the people around me. The minute I walked on stage I immediately felt a surge of energy course through my veins although it wasn’t completely nervous energy like it has been before—it was more of an invigorating energy which was encouraging. I credit this in part to the fact that I have been given the opportunity to perform worship songs with The Way in front of several church congregations, but mainly I attribute this change to the spiritual growth I have been undergoing in learning to fix my eyes on Jesus.
2) In regards to acceptance, I found my eyes opened to the fact that I still have a long way to go in letting myself become fully accepted by my Father in Heaven and not by man. I still have a long way to go in keeping my eyes on Jesus after initially fixing them.
3) I believe that I am finally reaching closure and full healing from past hurts involving music worship teams at church! My first year at school here I didn’t audition for chapel music worship because I was still too bitter from my past hurts, but over the course of this last year, God has been teaching me some hard lessons in humbling myself before Him. It was in that lowest place though, that I would find unspeakable joy. Now, after auditioning, I feel so carefree. I doesn’t really matter to me whether I am integrated into the team or not. I was true to myself. I redeemed the passions that God has given me. I honored Him by taking a chance and pursuing something that would fill me with life. I’m closer to Abba for it, and that’s all that really matters.
I’ll be frank, I’m not sure what to say right now… I’ve been pretty tired this week. However, it’s been a joyful week as well. I’ve been learning contentment and honesty and surrender. I’ve been learning thankfulness.
In my copy of the devotional Jesus Calling, I read today that I should let thankfulness temper my thoughts. What a wonderful idea. Thankfulness keeps my attitude headed in a positive direction. Thankfulness keeps me from complaining.
Complaining is a dangerous sin. It fundamentally changes your attitude toward God. The Israelites complained in the wilderness and it drove God crazy. They didn’t trust Him even after all that He had done for them. God is looking for trusting hearts. Thankfulness sets us on the path of trust. Also, because God is faithful and does what He says, trust in Him results in joy.
Oh, so, I recently came across a study of water and how words, both spoken and written, affect its makeup. In this experiment, positive words would cause the water, when frozen, to form beautiful crystals under a microscope; whereas negative words would cause the water to freeze in random and disfigured patterns. One of the suggested applications of this experiment was that since our bodies are roughly 70% water, our words have a huge impact on our makeup as humans.
I feel like this ties together well with the idea of attitude—thankfulness leading to trust leading to joy. Joy starts with giving thanks. What we say has an impact on ourselves and other people, so let’s start giving thanks more often.
Okay, that just about sums up what I’ve been thinking about.
Jesus, as I call Your Name,
I feel crushing defeat
Surely, no, it couldn’t be,
Not my pride, no, not control,
My heavy crown.
I see a future full of stuff
To do, entirely of my own
But the calendar constrains—
The due process of order leaves me
I open my mouth to speak,
Explain the tension holding
My weak love.
If weeping breaks the chains of fear,
Accept this act committed here
With fierce love.
I just want to be mature and complete! I feel like I am constantly learning and re-learning the same lessons in life. How long will I go through this cycle of repetition? How long will I so stubbornly stick to my old ways of thinking? Change me, O God! Create in me a pure heart.
I see other people pass me by on the road of maturity, learning the lessons that I somehow never fully grasped and I mourn for my own lack of understanding. Perhaps I should stop thinking of maturity as a road. Maybe maturity means a little bit more than simply comprehending life lessons. Maybe maturity is found somewhere in accepting gracefully the ebb and flow of living in the Spirit of God as He takes us to the places where He desires us to give Him Lordship.
Search me and know me, O God! Create a pure heart within me! Renew my mind with Your truth—overflow me with Your love. Show me Your heart. I want to hear how it beats. I want to know how it hurts. I want to feel how it delights. Let me know Your heart, Abba!
I was feeling defeated today. What do I do when I feel defeated? I talk to Jesus. So, J and I were talking today and He showed me something that I hadn’t fully realized. I’ve been comparing myself with my brothers and sisters in Christ, trying to measure up to an imaginary standard of excellence that would not bring fulfillment.
I was questioning God. Why do there seem to be so many people much more talented than I? Why do I feel unneeded? Why do some people have their lives handed to them on a silver platter and I never find an open door of opportunity?
Each person has a unique path set before them, regardless of how similar some paths may or may not seem. The end results may be drastically different or the paths themselves may take different routes to reach the same destination. No one really knows what the future holds. The only thing that is fairly certain is that each person will experience life differently. When you compare your path with that of another person, you are trying to live into their identity instead of your own. Stop it. Discover your own identity and live into it.
Perhaps you don’t have a grasp on your identity. That’s okay. Put yourself out to experience life. Every time you find something that doesn’t work, assimilate that “not me” experience into your perspective on what to do next. For me, I’ve had my fair share of “that’s not me” experiences and sometimes it is disheartening because I feel I’m no closer to truly knowing what IS me. That’s when I cling to God’s Word.
According to the Scriptures, I am safe and secure in Christ (John 10:29). I am loved by God (John 3:16). I am royalty, a co-heir with Christ (Romans 8:17). I am a friend of God (John 15:15). I have a future full of hope (Jeremiah 29:11). I stand in grace (Romans 5:2). I have access to the throne of grace in Heaven; I can boldly approach my Father (Hebrews 4:16). This is the perspective I want.
I was talking with Jesus today. I had before me a choice to focus on something evil and pleasurable or to turn and spend time with Jesus. I packed up my backpack, got up from my seat, and walked to the exit. Jesus closed the door behind me and we walked outside discussing life. Well, it was more like I was telling Him about my life.
I finally stopped speaking and asked Him where we were going. He asked me what I wanted to do. I told Him that I desired adventure, but when it came down to it, I was frustrated because I couldn’t think of anything to do. I could think of things that other friends had told me about, adventures they had experienced, but I was unable to come up with anything original. I couldn’t call any idea my own; hence, nothing I could think of really stirred the passions of my heart.
We were immediately transported to my mom’s house where Jesus showed me a prefabricated storage compartment that I had assembled the night before—one of those black, square wood compartments that is subdivided into nine smaller cubbies. Anyway, He then traced a diagonal pattern across the face of the compartment from the top left corner to the bottom right corner and from the top right corner to the bottom left corner so that it formed the shape of an “x.” Then He turned the “x” so that it looked more like a “+,” and He said, “Flip the box, turn the cross.”
“Sunshine is the best disinfectant.” —Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis
I woke up this morning to a ray of sunshine through my window, and I couldn’t help but smile. After a busy week of school during which it was mostly cloudy and rainy, I needed the encouraging brightness of sunlight. It brought to mind, one of the life lessons I have been reflecting on this week: renewing your mind.
There is a reason that the Bible says that we are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Our minds are constantly being shaped by what they receive through our senses and perceive spiritually. I have found that by constantly reminding myself throughout my day that Jesus is present with me in each moment and verbally expressing my trust in Him, I have greater peace about my circumstances and a purity of thought that I had never experienced before.
This caused me to wonder why I found it so hard before this to keep my thoughts pure and focused on Jesus at school. I have so much opportunity on campus at school to latch onto sources of negative thought that, unless I am constantly reinforcing holy thought patterns and reminding myself in every conversation to keep my eyes on Jesus, I will quickly find the fruit of God’s Spirit in me drying up and withering. It harkens back to Psalm 1, where we read of the blessedness of the man or woman who delights in God’s law. It is explained in Romans 6, where Paul reminds us that grace means we are free to choose righteousness. It is given expression in Lamentations 3:40-42 where the prophet cries out to “lift up our hearts with our hands to God in heaven” acknowledging that we are full of evil and that God is just in His judgment.
But as Paul says in Romans, we now live under grace. God has not judged completely as we have deserved, but allows us to choose to identify with Jesus, the Messiah’s, death, and to accept His life to God as our own pattern of living. I choose to live to God. I choose to accept the deep, abiding life that flows from the presence of God. I choose to renew my mind. I choose to live in the light of God’s presence.
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” —James 1:17