I haven’t written in ages and I haven’t felt like writing in ages. I read two verses tonight. Just two. And that was for the first time in about two weeks or so. The thing is, I don’t really feel bad about it. Usually I’m craving it. Even if I purposely avoid reading or push it off for another time, I miss it. But I haven’t. And that scares me. I’m also feeling very emotional tonight and it’s not helping. I keep having to remind myself that being a Christian isn’t a convenience role. It’s like…I think it’s like being a parent. You’re just stuck with it, even when it’s hard. But you never truly regret it. You know it’s life-changing in a positive way even when you think you can’t handle it. But tonight, if I’m being honest, I just want to scream and cry and quit everything.
I’ve been meaning to type this up since Saturday and I guess it was good that I didn’t because Sunday it got even better! Ya know how money has been somewhat of an issue lately? Well this past Wednesday I was able to babysit my friend’s nephew again, $15 for two hours. Easy money. Then Saturday I had work 6-9 but in the morning I was just watching cartoons and curling my hair, sitting on Facebook and I got a notification on the group the servers have for covering and switching shifts that someone had a 2-6 they were asking me to pick up. I took it. It was really slow all day and the night was stressful. I didn’t make much money at all, but it was still more than I would have if I’d only gone in at 6 so I had to be thankful for that. But wait, there’s more! For RTU last weekend I was under the impression that we were supposed to pay the person we carpooled with for gas money, so on top of the money for my part of the hotel room I gave an extra $10. Well Sunday at church I was given that money back! Like, what? Crazy! What a blessing! Oh! And I forgot the best, and perhaps most humbling, part. Wednesday night at church I took the $15 I’d made babysitting and tithed it all. I haven’t tithed in months. I wouldn’t even know where to begin figuring out how much I should have tithed thus far since I started serving. But the point it is, I gave over all $15 without question, without selfishness. I just did it. Because I knew it was only right, especially after I’ve been skimping out so much the past few months. It felt really good, and it only took a few days for the blessings to start pouring in! Praise God!
I made a separate post because I had a feeling this might be even longer.
Finally, I read Isaiah 44. I don’t remember the last time I got something so great out of this book, except for that verse I posted about a few days ago in chapter 43. Anyway, this is what it says,
14 He cuts down cedars, or he chooses a cypress tree or an oak and lets it grow strong among the trees of the forest. He plants a cedar and the rain nourishes it. 15 Then it becomes fuel for a man. He takes a part of it and warms himself; he kindles a fire and bakes bread. Also he makes a god and worships it; he makes it an idol and falls down before it. 16 Half of it he burns in the fire. Over the half he eats meat; he roasts it and is satisfied. Also he warms himself and says, “Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire!” 17 And the rest of it he makes into a god, his idol, and falls down to it and worships it. He prays to it and says, “Deliver me, for you are my god!”
I love this. OK, first of all we have a man who is going about his life as perhaps some sort of farmer, using the trees around him to survive. He uses the trees for wood for a fire to keep himself warm and to cook his food. God gives us earthly resources to be able to survive so fire wood and cooking over that fire are ways of putting God’s resources to good work. It’s a gift from God that we accept and use wisely and without wasting (at least we should). But then in the second part of verse 15 it says he also uses the wood to create an idol for worship. Ya know the saying that God can take everything and turn it for good? Well it works the other way around too. God’s pure gifts can be perverted and used for evil, even at the same time like we see in these verses. It’s a hypocritical man. Someone who gets drunk Saturday night and raises his hands in service Sunday morning.
I don’t know why but this passage was just so fascinating to me. How could anyone take something God has given them to survive and use it and enjoy it then turn it against Him? Yet it is done daily. I dare say I am sure I am guilty of it in some way or another. It’s eye-opening. It makes me aware. I pray I stay aware and watchful. For my sake and those around me.
OK, I’m about to go on a writing spree. I’m making this post on the 12th because I read so much yesterday I didn’t think I could get it all into a post before I fell asleep. I had a great devotion yesterday, and it all started with Pinterest! Tuesday night I came across a pin that had 1 Corinthians 10:13 on it, which says,
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
The verse caught my eye and struck my heart. I booked marked it in my Bible to share with you the next day. I know it’s a fairly well-known verse, rather, a well-used verse for when people say “God never gives you more than you can handle.” It made me think of you. With everything that happened last week and just everything going on in your life in general. It is my prayer for you, that you would always remember that verse whenever you feel overwhelmed by temptation or just the stress of school and work. Then while I was at church last night I went on a reading spree. First I read the entire book (all four chapters, haha) of Ruth. It was then that I officially decided I want to be a Ruth and I want my husband to be a Boaz. Ruth was such a strong and loyal and willing woman and Boaz was so precious and sweet and caring in that manly/husbandly way. I loved chapter 3 verse 3 where Ruth’s mother-in-law, Naomi, was telling her basically to get gussied up and go see Boaz and get her groove thang on. She said it in less words, of course, but that was the idea I got. Also, verse 13 chapter 4 where Ruth and Boaz get married and it says, “And he went in to her…”. Maybe it shouldn’t be, but I think that’s hilarious. They had sex. They got it on. Honestly, I think that’s even more descriptive than just saying they had sex. He went inside her. Whoo.
From reading this entire book in one sitting (and having read a chapter from Joshua before it) I realized, once again, how much like a novel the Bible really is. And how relevant it all is to daily life. And also what a sense of humor God has for us.
Next I read Proverbs 2. Verses 2 and 5 stuck out to me. Basically they say that if you ask God to give you wisdom and insight then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. I love those matter of fact verses. Those ones that throw the obvious in our face, those of us who are more or less “seasoned Christians” who tend to take things for granted or forget the true meaning of something. All we need to do is ask. If it’s good for us God will give it to us. And then I read Proverbs 3. There were quite a few verses that stuck out to me here. But I decided I only want to write about one in particular. Speaking of wisdom:
…She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her.
I know the Bible refers to wisdom as she, but I can’t help but think of it as myself, or rather, who I want to be. I like to just think of it as the wise woman. What woman wouldn’t want to be considered more precious that jewels and desired above all else? On top of that, what woman wouldn’t want to be wise? For herself, her husband, her family, and her God. With these marriage prep classes we’re about to start taking at church, ring shopping, Pinterest boards, etc I have gotten more and more into the heart and spiritual aspects of getting married. I have become obsessed with wanting to be that sweet and loving, tender, kind, wise, hospitable wife that is so desired. It’s my life goal now. So verses like that are very close to my heart and I take them in complete seriousness and meditate upon them.
The Screwtape Letter I read tonight got me thinking a couple of things. One, There is nothing new under the sun. This book, written many years ago, applies in every aspect of life today. In one way or another at least. While maybe certain things exist today that did not or visa versa, I have yet to be able to afford to write off anything God has been speaking to me through this book. And that, my friends, is a lovely feeling.
Two, friendship, whether in the making or ongoing for many years, is more important than most realize. The people I grow close with are completely my choice. And sometimes I know that we feel we do not get to chose our friends. That somehow they are just placed in our lap and we have to deal with them or learn to love them. I dont believe that is necessarily the case. It cant be. Friendship, not acquaintanceship, is too important and affective to our lives to be that simple. I say this because I realize more and more after this reading that I need to be more cautious about the people I spend the majority of my time with. I like to think of it this way: I spend the majority of my time with a group of people who reek of rotten old cheese, there is a much greater chance that I will come away from the smelling lie rotten cheese than smelling like a basket of freshly picked roses. Am I right? In the same way, surrounding myself with people who curse, drink, and dont believe in God will likely not draw me closer to God and make me a more closely mirrored image of him. Now, all in moderation, of course. Because I adore the opportunities I have received to be a witness to people who are lost and need a Savior just as much as me. But as for those I confide in, I must be sure to chose wisely. And to pray without ceasing. Always.
I spent the past weekend at Rock The Universe at Universal Studios in Orlando. For those of you that don’t know, it is a weekend long concert full of popular Christian artists that takes place within the Universal theme park. A few of my friends have been going every year for at least 7 years now and in the past 3 or 4 years more and more people have been added to the attendance list This was my second year going. When I first paid for my ticket I was in a better place with everyone else who goes. As the weekend was nearing I began to dread it more and more. I was not at all looking forward to spending a weekend surrounded by the very people I’d been spending the last few months avoiding. But I also have a habit of blowing everything out of proportion so when it does happen it’s never as bad as I made it out to be.
Anyway, apart from my “best friends” there were many other “new kids” who have entered the group during my time of absence and I have never met. There are even a couple people who I have spoken to occasionally but never even been introduced to. There was so much drama and tension. I even felt a hint of possible backstabbing. With all the issues that I kept hearing complaints about from one person or another, you’d think we were in the middle of a 21st century blood bath. It made me wonder if this is how I was when I was in the center of the posse. And I pray it was different then, or at least that I had a tad more common sense. Thankfully the weekend itself was quite enjoyable. The majority of my time was spent alone with Nico and/or Dani (the friend I’m the most chill with). I was more or less with everyone during the concerts and there were times when that was overwhelmingly dramatic but it doesn’t even matter anymore and didn’t alter my life in anyway.
The point I’m trying to make is this, I realized what a friend I have in Jesus. Although I didn’t read or even pray about everything that was happening, it finally started to hit me what a fantastic buddy Jesus is. The mood of the weekend made me want to screw all of life and I probably didn’t have the very best attitude but I learned a lesson from it and that’s what matters, right? Throughout the course of the weekend I got to spend wonderful quality time with my boyfriend which, with him living 2 hours away, is rare. And I finally got the courage to completely cut all ties with those “friends”. I don’t know why it is so hard for me to always remember that Jesus is the only one who is forever there for us, understands us best, etc. But He is and He does. Those who I used to spend all my time with, they have good hearts. They are well-intending people. But they are all stuck in a comfortable, upper middle class, suburban box complete with a wealthy church, Starbucks, and a Chik-fil-a. They don’t know anything or anyone outside of that.
Another thing I realized this weekend is that my heart now aches for them. I believe they’ve hurt and/or are hurting many more lives than they know. They are very aware that a responsibility comes with being the popular crowd at a youth group but I dare say they are failing. But I refuse to put the blame on them. I fully admit to and take responsibility for my own actions while I was considered part of the group. While I did say I had plenty friends outside of the initial circle I cannot honestly say that I did everything I could to make sure everyone always felt included and so on. So this is my accomplishment, my lesson, and my enlightenment for the weekend.
I am a jumper. I can’t read just one book of the Bible at a time. I have been continuously going through Psalms and Proverbs since 6th or 7th grade. I’m making my way through the Bible from beginning to end and I currently find myself near the beginning of Joshua. I have been painstakingly reading through Isaiah for about 2 years now. I read Daniel on the odd occasion. And I jump around through Galatians to 2 Peter when I’m feeling desperate for something juicy (because we all know it’s impossible to not get something from those books).
Anyway, I was “making my rounds” tonight and I had finished reading Proverbs 2 so the next bookmark was Isaiah (I don’t read all of them every single day) and I was skipping over it when a highlighted verse caught my eye.
Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing, now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
Isaiah 43:18 & 19
I feel like I have made a post about this before. But anyway, I have the whole thing underlined and highlighted. I also have the words “former things” and “new thing” circled. Next to the highlighted bit on the left side I wrote “Total God Moment” and on the right side “04-16-12”. That date happens to be the day after we became a couple. Above the date I wrote “Look at the date.” I remember writing that earlier in the year when I cam across this verse again and it was again relevant to my life. Here I am, finding it relevant yet again.
I remember the first time it touched me because you had just asked me to be your girlfriend. You were the new thing God was doing in my life and the “former things” I was being called to forget was Forrest. Now I find myself in another moment in life where the former is passing away and new things are being brought forth. The former being your old life, our old life and the happiness we thought we were living. The new that is springing forth is your promises and desires to change and do better. The reason this applies to me so well is this: I’ve been hard on you since you told me everything last night, and rightly so. However, I’ve been wanting to dwell in my anger because it’s something I strive off of, even though it is terribly wrong. This verse touched me in a sense of forgiveness. I told you I forgive you and I do mean that, but forgiveness means letting go. It means trying to forget (I say “trying” because we are human and it is very difficult to truly forget the wrongs people do toward us.)
The verses I quoted were the Lord’s own words. He himself is calling me to “Remember not the former” and perceive the new work He is doing. I pray that I can do that.