Journey


Still Following: Resting and Enjoying His Presence

There is one thing I feel has been shoved in my face since the moment I got to Winston: the idea of rest. Not rest as in taking a nap or sleeping but resting in the presence of God. Oftentimes we can get wrapped up in the responsibilities of the day and what we need to do for everyone around us that we forget what we need. Just as children need time to spend with their parents, we need to spend time with our Father in Heaven. I don’t mean just spending time in prayer but actually spending time with Him. Learning about Him from His word, learning about Him while walking through the woods or at a park. We just need Him.

At the beginning of this year, I made it my goal to get up earlier than usual and spend that time just reading God’s word. I didn’t want to spend that time even talking to Him in prayer because I wanted to first become more acquainted with the person I was talking to. I just wanted to know Him deeper. I bought a book recently which has helped me a lot in that respect. It is called “Women of the Word.” It talks about different ways to look at and study the Bible. They are not focused on you reading the Bible to get something out of it or so you can have a feel good moment. The different ways they talk about are meant to help you read the Bible for what it actually is: a book about God. They take the focus off your heart and how we (myself included) read the Bible to make us feel good and instead help you focus on the story. You focus on everything you can learn about God within its pages. It’s a beautiful story telling of His love, character, mercy, grace, might and power. Of someone who is as fierce as a lion and as gentle as a lamb. What’s the best part you may ask? He wants to enjoy your presence too. How crazy is that?! The King of the Universe wants to spend time with you. I don’t know about you but the more I come to realize and appreciate that the more excited I get.

About a month and a half ago, I was listening to the Passion Conference online as it was going on and I had the privilege of hearing a woman named Christine Cain speak. I had honestly never even heard of her before that night but was absolutely blown away by each thing she said. She addressed the idea of greatness and how we as humans seem to have our heart set on doing all we can to make it to the top. A lot of times this causes us to forget to enjoy the process; To enjoy what is going on around us. I think the same can be true for those who aspire to go higher and higher in any capacity. We always push to be better, push to know more than everybody else, push to discover something new and exciting. In the midst of all the moving pieces we forget to enjoy God in the moment thinking we will only be able to enjoy God when we know the next thing or the next thing. We forget to acknowledge each blessing he gives us, each door he opens. God wants us to enjoy him right now where we are at. We may not be the lead pastor or the head of some organization but that doesn’t mean God doesn’t want us or that we shouldn’t seek to know him more. I think we should seek him and we should desire to go deeper but I also think going deeper in our faith doesn’t always mean going higher on the ladder. Sometimes you go deeper but God still wants you where you are at. He wants you to go deeper but to stay the secretary at the public school or go deeper and continue to be a barista at a coffee shop because he needs you there.

While Christine was speaking she highlighted one verse in particular: Exodus 33:11. It reads:

Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. When Moses turned again into the camp, his assistant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, would not depart from the tent.

Joshua lingered in the presence of God. He didn’t care that God only spoke to Moses at the moment. He didn’t mind standing on the outside while Moses got to go in. Joshua enjoyed simply being in the presence of God. To be like Joshua finding contentment on the outside is one of my deepest desires and to be quite honest I struggle with it each and every day. But I know even if I struggle with it every day for the rest of my life it will be the best struggle I’ve ever had. So come join me and let’s find rest in our Father together.


Fighting To Become Last…

There are many different things that people do at the beginning of a new year. They will make resolutions, start a new savings account, begin a journal, etc. I’ve done many of these over the years, some have gone quite well and others have gone not so well. As the year 2014 came to a close I wasn’t sure what it was that I wanted to do or how I wanted to try and summarize what I wanted out of the year 2015. Did I want to go with one of the very cliche things such as working out more or spending more time with my family? (not that either of those are bad) or maybe something else?

Well, its officially 20 days into the new year and I think I have it. I decided to choose a word for my Year 2015. I don’t know if this is a new fad or what and I may be going with the flow but I like this one and I thought in depth about it. The word I’m going to choose?…Fight. Now, don’t go having all sorts of violent ideas floating around in your brain. I’m not taking about a physical battle (at least I don’t think I am). The fight I’m talking about is a spiritual fight, an emotional fight. This year I’m going to fight for Jesus. I’m going to fight for my relationship with Him.  I’m going to fight to become last. I’m going to fight because I’ve been in a rut, not a bad rut but a rut none the less. I am surrounded by mission minded people doing mission minded things and I loved it but it consumed me. I worked hard in 2014 to make sure that students and youth pastors, church members, and pastors had amazing, over-the-top mission experiences. I did my best to make sure their talents were not wasted and that they were given the opportunities that allowed God to use them in incredible ways. One thing I missed was my relationship with God. I got so caught up in the work of God that I forgot the person-hood of God. I forgot how He longs to not only have me work alongside Him but He longs for just me. Just me. He doesn’t want what I can do or say or what I can organize and plan out. He wants me. God could care less how much I do for His kingdom. He could do things without me. He wants me for Himself first and foremost.

Recently, in my devotions, I came across some verses that really struck me and kind of hit home with what I was beginning to realize. The first comes from Romans 11: 17-18 where Paul is talking to the Gentiles about their relationship with God.

It reads:

                     If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, do not boast over those branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you.

 

The next, from 1 Corinthians 3:11,

        For no one can lay any foundation other than the one that is already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 

 

I have been so focused on what I should be doing. How I could keep the mission trips entrusted to me from burning to the ground that I forgot the One on whom those very mission trips were built. I was trying to the be the root, the foundation. 2015 is the start of a new year. It’s a new book that has 365 pages or a new movie with 365 scenes (if you happen to not like imagining reading a book that big), and I declare that it’s going to be a good one. Revival is going to happen. People will be changed; they will be remade and made anew.God is going to do some big things and He will be glorified above all else because I am going to fight to make myself last.