For quite awhile now I've been wanting to write a testimonial piece for my friends who don't know Jesus as the Son of God. Maybe you've doubted His sovereignty, doubted He loves you, doubted He's relevant, some have thought him cruel for taking a loved one or maybe you've just never given him much thought. Christians of today haven't exactly screamed welcome or love and with hot topics pushing everyone's buttons, the gospel message has become drowned out and the focus has shifted from grace and love to "sides" and "right and wrong". But I still believe that for those who search for the Lord, they will not only find Him, they will experience peace and a life filled with hope and joy.
The Holy Spirit has brought me to a place where I finally see what others of the faith have been talking about. I still have desires and dreams and enjoy things of this culture and world, but God has truly come alive to me in a way He never has before. I find myself thinking constantly about who He is, what He wants for my life and looking at things through His perspective instead of my own. The results have been crazy. I'm starting to think about others before myself, and truly seeking first His kingdom.
I was pretty down-trodden for awhile, not having a job and all. I felt like a loser: I was living with my parents and about to turn 30. Though I had brief moments of hope and direction, mostly I was justifying my attitude by playing the victim. In His mercy and compassion God started to change my heart day by day and the Bible became something I looked forward to reading rather than feeling guilty for how much I wasn't reading it (or dreading reading it).
Mostly, I couldn't see why so much of my life kept falling apart. After reading through this devotional I can now see some hard truths that apply to this recent time in my life:
"God doesn't remove us from the fires of life, but calls us to them for His glory." I have had to change my outlook: I have been so ME focused I wasn't giving any thought into bringing God glory. But the Bible talks often about bringing glory to God in spite of the disappointments and hardships of life. Life isn't about what I get out of it, rather it's loving God and serving Him and through those actions I get so much back.
"God can be glorified through our painful situations. In our pain and darkest times, the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ can be greatly manifested." This is what I hope is seen through my life right now. God is goodness at all times, not just when we think He is. He embodies goodness, He is good even when life is not. The Good News shows us that life always has goodness when we love God and live like His Son in Honor of their sacrifices.
"When God calls us to fires, He is always faithful to see us through. He is worthy of our praise despite our losses, despite our hurts." There is a lie going around, straight from the pit of Hell that we are unloved, forgotten, or being "punished" when life is really painful or hard. We blame God for our broken world when it is us who makes it broken. That's part of living in a fallen world and we all have crosses to bear. But Jesus says His yoke is easy and His burden is light. He tells us to cast our cares on Him because He cares for us! This doesn't sound like a God who punishes or robs us of joy. The enemy, we are told, does have an agenda: he would see us blame God and dance in celebration when we turn our backs on Him or don't seek Him for answers and comfort. I have been guilty of this my whole walk with Christ and it says so much more about my God that He is faithful to me when I choose to believe the lies over the Truth of Jesus. Christ came to set the captives free and I can tell you, as one who has been freed, it's amazing!
I've noticed in my crisis state of being unemployed and living life with no purpose that what I believed, severely affected my outlook. It is so important to seek God through Christ and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal what is true to us because there is so much reward in knowing the Creator of the world. "God promises His very presence will be with us." If I had clung to this fact, and put my trust in Him to bring me out on the other side to begin with, I would have saved myself so much self-pity and wouldn't have wasted so much time. Thankfully, God doesn't remove himself from me when He sees my unwillingness. He took me out of my pit and placed me exactly where I needed to me. I didn't have a job right away, and I'm still having to file for bankruptcy but He has shown me what joy is: trusting in Him, worshipping Him for His namesake and surrendering my wants and hopes to Him. The thing is, my problem has been seeking my own good rather than giving my life to Christ. The prayer below so accurately portrays where my heart needs to be in times of trouble: "Father, you are completely in control. If you wanted me to be out of the situation I find myself in, then I would be out. I trust in you. Since you haven't removed me from it, you will walk with me through it. Thank you Lord!"
God is a big boy, he can handle any question you give Him and can remove any burden too difficult for you to bear alone. And guess what? You weren't created to be alone. God is with you and He loves you.
"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." Matthew 7:13-14