Ok…so I posted that video to buy me some time to work on a real entry…but then I scrolled down and realized everybody posted like legit spiritual stuff! Lol, HUMBLED. So now, instead of trying to construct a perfectly worded post, I will just attempt to collect together what’s been on my heart and mind lately.
This year, God has been using PSkinner’s Sunday sermons to really teach me and challenge me. It took about 2 years of sleeping (and snoring) through sermons and being annoyed that the format/style wasn’t what I was used to before I finally learned how to LISTEN. And also God has been changing my heart to realize what he is preaching is actually the solid TRUTH and GOSPEL.
Today’s sermon was about God as our YAHWEH LORD, whose love and mercy and grace is endless. He touched on performance-based faith…which is definitely something I struggle with. But it’s because of HIM not because of ME that I receive his LOVE. And His love doesn’t fluctuate based on my performance. Which is a relief especially because I suck at loving God wholeheartedly…usually I “love” God or “feel” love when things are going well in my life – totally selfish and conditional. But thankfully, our love for God too gets sanctified!
To be honest, I actually zoned out when PSkinner was explaining the concept of YAHWEH and so I tried to look it up on Wikipedia on my phone but to no avail. PRAISE GOD that Josephine was sitting next to me and paid attention because she directed me to this passage that explains our YAHWEH God.
“8 The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, 7 keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by non means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children.” -Exodus 34:6-7
(That second half –> Thank God for Jesus and His blood!!!)
I think God’s love and grace is something I am finally starting to understand. I think I did/do view God sometimes as “Something Awful” and I often hide from Him because I’m so ashamed and fearing his wrath. But God loves me! I will always fail and sin, but there’s no need for shame! Jesus came to conquer my shame! God loves me regardless of my failures and struggles and shameful sins. WOW! This was such a revolutionary concept to me last semester. That despite all the self-hatred and worthlessness and brokenness and failure I felt, God didn’t care about any of that. Because of Jesus, He doesn’t see any of that. He only loves me and covers me with His grace.
So I always get emotional talking about this time of depression, because it was such a transformative period in my life through which I finally started understanding grace and God. But lately I think I’ve been getting caught up in the whole faith vs feeling struggle. Because thinking back to this time reminds me of God’s providence and faithfulness and usually when I’m in a rut it can help me get back into an emotionally thankful prayer sesh…but emotions cannot run my faith! Faith is about the God’s TRUTH. It goes beyond what I feel. Because getting caught up in or depending on solely emotions is what gets me into these cycles of depression in the first place. I have to believe God’s power and trust His will more than I believe in and depend on my feelings. And when things get really tough, I have to believe that God’s power is stronger than my feelings.
This semester started out pretty “solid” but within the second week I became so overwhelmed with stress and applying my new understandings to how I live. And I hit a rut. I would pray but I would feel SO FRUSTRATED and annoyed at God. And what was more frustrating was that I couldn’t pinpoint exactly WHY I was feeling frustrated….and I knew that I had no reason to BE frustrated!!! I had a taste of what real relationship with God was like and I wanted to depend on Him in the same ways but it was more difficult because mood-wise I was fine and not suicidal-desperate. I felt so impatient because I wanted to change NOW. I felt annoyed that it was not as easy as I expected. In a way, I felt like God owed me something because after all, I was PRAYING and ASKING, wasn’t I? (More like demanding…)
And so I gradually just gave up. I fell into the same cycles and habits and apathy. And I kind of started ignoring God, not completely but mostly. What a selfish bratty attitude! GOD, BECAUSE YOU ARE NOT DOING THINGS MY WAY IN MY TIMING IM ANNOYED AT YOU AND IM GONNA NOT LIVE FOR YOU ANYMORE, BYE. But God was still faithful. Not just academically, but He provided me with accountability. He showed me the terrible sinful condition of my heart (especially through lent). And He truly kept me afloat/alive. I was kind of confused because normally if I was living like this, I would be super super super depressed, but I felt fine. (In a weird way I almost wanted to feel depressed. Like as penace.) But I felt okay. God’s grace was truly sustaining me, when I didn’t deserve the most T___T
Anyways, during spring break, I guess you could say I “reconnected” with God. And initially the thankfulness and overwhelming emotions took over, but it’s not emotions that create change. And as I prayed more, I felt that same FRUSTRATION-block. It was like deja-vu. Like I was drowning and then finally floated back up to square one when I “fell” in the beginning of the semester. And it was so annoying to be frustrated!!!
Today though, I talked to Pskinner and Peony about my frustrations. Both had important insight that challenged my understanding of my relationship with God and heart priorities. When I pray, it’s NOT me going to God and telling Him what to do. HUMBLE YOURSELF WHEN YOU COME TO HIM!!! You’re talking to God!!! Last CG we talked about how to pray, and now I understand why it’s important to start your prayers with ADORATION. Because praising God and and acknowledging all His perfect qualities and abounding love and thanking Him puts you into the right mindset. That your life and even your prayer is NOT about you. It’s about God. As you place God in the high position He deserves to be in…you get humbled and realize who you’re talking to!
During the CG about prayer, one of the questions asked us to list qualities of God. I was shocked that I could only think of like five…and as we went around and shared, I was like “OH! Savior, how could I forget that one? POWERFUL!!! Duh. Forgiving, right…” And so I’m realizing more and more how little I know about God and who He is. I think because I have been barely reading my Bible my whole life and when I do, it’s more out of obligation. Just as I have to learn how to pray with the right heart, I need to learn how to read the Bible with the right heart too. Because the more I truly understand God and His character and His love and His story, I will want to and learn how to live in response to Him and His grace.
Finally, I am learning that even though I want to just be able to DO all these things all of sudden…God doesn’t work that way. (Hence, frustration.) I think my prayers have shifted from demanding God to give me qualities and help me be perfect/ideal in opinion to demanding that God TEACH ME HOW TO DO ALL THESE THINGS RIGHT NOW. And yes, I definitely need to learn…but my attitude is so selfish! I have to LEARN these things because I don’t know how to do them because I am weak and human and sinful. Gotta dwell on that because it’s through my weakness that God works, because it’s when I am conscious of my weakness that I am forced to depend on God, not on my own effort.
“9 But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weakness, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
Even as I fail and struggle with the same things everyday, God doesn’t call me to be perfect before coming to Him. Jesus came because I will never be perfect. So instead of getting discouraged by my repeating sin, I must embark on a lifestyle of REPENTANCE. (And I have to learn to repent because I genuinely want to obey and please God…not because I want I to live a struggle-free life.) His mercies are new everyday! I will always struggle, but the purpose of my life is not to become perfect and conquer my struggles. I am living to know God and to live for God. And He is always faithful and loving.
“This life, therefore,
is not righteousness but growth in righteousness,
not health but healing,
not being but becoming,
not rest but exercise.
We are not yet what we shall be, but we are going toward it.
The process is not yet finished, but it is going on.
This is not the end but it is the road.
All does not yet gleam in glory but all is being purified.”
-Martin Luther, “Defense and Explanaton of all the Articles,” Second Article
(I got that quote from this article, “”Making All Things New: Restoring Pure Joy to the Sexually Broken” – it’s by one of the counseling staff at the christian counseling foundation I go to. READ IT!!! Part 1 – http://www.ccef.org/making-all-things-new-restoring-pure-joy-sexually-broken Part 2 – http://www.ccef.org/making-all-things-new-restoring-pure-joy-sexually-broken-0)