It’s been a while since I’ve been on this thing and I figured it’s time to dust off the cobwebs. This summer I feel like God has really been teaching me the value of patience and learning to show others grace especially through my relationships with my family. This spring semester was probably one of the roughest and busiest of my life between academics, extracurriculars and serving and there’s no way I could’ve gotten through it without God. I remember being so happy when I took my last final and was on the way home. I told myself that when I got home, that it was going to be time for myself, my “off season”. This would be the time where I could focus only on myself and have time to relax and de-stress and not worry about anything or anyone. I wanted “me” time and just time to be mindless. Whenever anyone (specifically my parents) interrupted that time, I got really frustrated and bitter. I was so selfish and tired that I not only neglected my relationship with my parents, but my relationship with God.
In my case, I was unwilling to give up my time. I thought that serving at school was enough and that I had deserved this time off and I was entitled to this solitude, but the Bible tells us to deny ourselves and pick up our cross daily and that means being willing to give anything and everything to Him. It means being willing to make certain sacrifices if He calls you to, even if it means inconveniencing yourself. So really, there is no “off season”. There isn’t a time where you can tell God, “not today” or “don’t ask me to give this up God”. You can have anything else, just let me keep this for myself”. One thing that God calls us to do is to love our neighbors as ourselves and it sounds so simple and so easy, but it’s really not. It’s really hard to love others especially because whether people intend to or not, they do so many things to annoy you or hurt you no matter how much they love you. It’s in our nature to do so as sinners. Taking all this into account, I sit here and think, “What’s the point? Why do this? Why should I love these people if all they’re going to do is annoy me or cause me grief?” But then I remember, I’m guilty of doing the exact same thing. I hurt people too. I annoy people and make poor decisions and judgments. I upset the people I love and care about and who love and care about me as well. Knowing all of this and how much of a jerk I am, God still loves me anyway. Jesus didn’t say, “Oh snap, I’m not gonna save this kid. He’s the biggest scrub in the world”. Jesus still died for me and saved me even though He knew how much of a scrub I was.
I’m not going to sit here and say now everything has changed and now I love everyone and I’m everyone’s best friend, but knowing what Jesus did makes it a heck of a lot easier. Taking a look back at myself and realizing just how sinful and selfish I am and knowing that God loves me still makes loving others that much easier. If there’s one thing that I’ve been reminded this summer it’s that everyone deserves to be shown love and grace.
We love because he first loved us
1 John 4:19
Mariano Rivera is a relief pitcher for the New York Yankees. Rivera, a 19-year veteran, is the Major League’s all times saves leader with 608 saves and counting. He’s a 12 time All-Star and a 5 time World-Series Champion. He also has the lowest earned run average and most saves all time in the postseason. He is also the last player to ever be allowed to wear Jackie Robinson’s number 42. Mariano has dominated the game of baseball with one pitch and wearing one uniform. Saturday March 13 Rivera announced that this upcoming season would be his last season of baseball. I watched his press conference with my dad and I was very surprised by what I heard.
Undoubtedly THE greatest relief pitcher in baseball history, Rivera was unbelievably humble. Rivera was the pitcher who pitched the last inning of the game, the closer. It was his job to shut down the opposition and make sure the Yankees win. The spotlight was always on him and there are many people who argue that the Yankees would not have been a dynasty in the late 90s without him. When asked how he wanted to be remembered, he said as, “a player who was always there for others; who makes them better; who didn’t think of myself at all. ” Instead of focusing on all of his achievements and all the amazing things he has done in his career; he gives praise to his teammates and to GOD. He began his press conference with thanking Jesus Christ his Lord and Savior for everything he has in his life: his wife, his kids, his teammates and his opportunity to play professional baseball
Here’s this guy, a no doubt hall of famer with so many records and achievements and yet he is able to remain SO HUMBLE throughout his entire career. I thought to myself, “How is this possible? How can this guy stay so grounded?” Throughout his press conference he thanks God. He talks about how much of a blessing it was for him to be able to put on the New York Yankees uniform. When asked what the best thing that happened to him on the baseball field was, he responded:
“The best thing for me that happened was just the Lord blessing me with this uniform. Putting the New York Yankees uniform on. And being thankful for every minute that I wore this uniform, to the day that I retire. The last day that I throw my last pitch, I will be more proud than anything. Not because what we accomplished. But what the Lord allowed me to wear, the New York Yankees uniform.”
The thing he’s most proud of is not his accomplishments, but that the Lord allowed him to wear the uniform; that God ALLOWED him to play baseball. I think after hearing that everything clicked in my head. Yes Mariano Rivera has accomplished a great many things in his career, but at the same time he knows that the only reason why he’s capable of doing that is because of God, that these accomplishments were only possible because God allowed it. He realizes that without God, he is nothing and so he gives all the glory to God.
At times when I accomplish something, I always think “Oh man, look at how awesome I must look”. I put the emphasis on me, instead of God. I neglect God’s presence and work in my life and my head gets really big and I become too prideful. I turn into this little punk who doesn’t think he needs God to get by and then I fall on my face and fail miserably haha. While these times may be rough, it’s a necessary lesson in humility and acknowledging how important God’s presence in my life is. Like Ty said in the post before this one, “Thank God there is grace for the difficult b/c of His grace, He gives me the opportunity to be a better son each and every day”. This press conference was a great reminder for me to remain humble, acknowledge what God is doing in my life and to ultimately give all the glory back to Him.
“And whatever you do, whether in word or in deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” – Colossians 3:17
Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve always been afraid of embarrassing myself. I was terrified of sounding uneducated or not knowing what I was talking about or looking really foolish when trying something for the first time. This fear of rejection and judgment is the reason why it took me so long to get into sports, why I’m scared to try new things, and why I’m scared to put myself out there. Unfortunately this fear has seeped into my spiritual life as well.
As most of you already know, I’m new in my faith and I started going out to church a little over a year ago. Coming out to Renewal was really tough for me given that I had no idea what was going on which was part of the reason why I was uncomfortable. I was a little overwhelmed with everything I had been exposed to, but I was eager to learn and grow. While I was eager to learn, I was still scared. I was scared to ask questions about things that I didn’t know because I didn’t want people to think less of me for not understanding something that came so easily to everyone else or something that was considered common knowledge. I would skip out on things like Morning Prayer because I thought I didn’t know how to pray properly and I didn’t want to embarrass myself.
I turned my spiritual life into some kind of formula, which was heavily works based. I would tell myself that my all prayers needed to be a certain length or that I would have to read a certain amount of chapters in my bible each day. I was never comfortable with praying out loud or around other people because I was afraid my prayer wouldn’t be “good enough” or that I wouldn’t be saying “the right things”. I was more concerned with going through the motions and checking things off a checklist than actually praying a sincere prayer or being intentional with my devotionals.
I forget how I came across this verse but Romans 8: 39 says “nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” For me it was just a great reminder of God’s love for me and that I shouldn’t be worried about my self-esteem or what other people think about me. With the constant encouragement from this community, I am reminded God’s opinion is the only one that matters and that no matter what I do, no matter how stupid or silly my actions may be, God will still love me. There is nothing that I can do that will make Him love me any more or any less.
There’s this line at the end of the bible study I had last week that reads:
The gospel: “I am more sinful and flawed than I ever dared believe, but I am more accepted and loved than I ever dared hope”