It’s that time of year, again. Time to think about what changes we want to make in the new year. How much weight do I need to lose? How many blog posts should I strive for each month? What habits should I break? What habits should I create? What projects should I tackle?
What does God want me to do?
To be honest, that last one has never come up in my resolution list until this year. I’ve spent years as a “Christian” and only this month have I realized how far I have been from the mark. I know God loves me, that he can do all things, that with Him I can do all things, that Christ died in sacrifice so that I could rest in Heaven for eternity. What I had never thought of previously was that I was not holding up my end of the bargain.
I was in high school, and felt the deepest conviction that I was a sinner in need of a Savior, and that Jesus had given his life for me. I went to the altar and prayed the prayer of the lost… and went right on about my merry way doing, essentially, nothing different. Salvation was a Get-out-of-Hell-free card. Yea, I’m a Christian, so all I have to do is say “I’m sorry, God. I won’t do that again. For real, this time. Not like the last 14 times I’ve said so,” and that was all it took to stay out of Hell. Good enough.
Now, here I am. I’m a wife (who struggles for a happy marriage, like so many others), a mother (who cannot doubt the absolute miracle that my son has been in my life), a sister, a daughter, a friend, a co-worker, a spare-time entrepreneur… the list goes on and on of all the different hats I wear, and trials I face daily. In all of that, I have forgotten to be a Christian. I have never taken the time (and that’s what it takes… time and dedication) to be a Christian the way God intended. When I accepted Christ all those years ago, I was commanded to take up His cross and I chose not to. I knowingly disobeyed my Father. We can sugar-coat it and say that I was young, or naïve, or needed more guidance… but I could’ve answered the conviction in my heart to find out more about what a Christian should be… and I chose not to.
Fast forward to this past summer.
A lot of things happened in rapid succession that landed me back in church, and desperately seeking answers to why I felt so far from the love I knew God had for me. I’m a little slow on the uptake… I could see the blessings of God in my life. I could tell people of the wonderful things God can do. I was reading my Bible in search of answers to all of life’s struggles. I prayed, read, tithed, fellowship… and it wasn’t enough. I had this terrible empty spot still nagging at me. The “what if’s” started running me through the ringer. What if you’re not really saved? Maybe that’s why you feel off. What if your efforts aren’t paying off because you’re just going through the motions? What if you wake up to God asking you why you wouldn’t trust him with all of yourself? Then I had to answer another set of questions. The first one being Why? Why was I holding onto that last, empty place inside when all I had to do was give it to Him? Why was I in conflict with myself about what I needed to do in order to be whole? Just give it up! I knew I was never going to be able to do what God asked of me if I held on to any of my old (sinner) self… I knew I had to give everything to God so that he could, in return, give me everything I needed to be a Christian. No quotes. Christian.
December 5th I gave it up. I cried, and prayed that God would fill me so full of himself & the Holy Spirit that there would be no room for me. No room for the evils of this world, or the empty darkness within me that had already consumed too much of my time, precious time that could have been better spent in the light. That rapid sequence of events that brought me back to church has been an epic novel compared to how quickly God has started working in my life since that Wednesday night. A week later (Dec 13) I went to our church’s monthly Women’s Ministry meeting. A woman named Jennifer shared her testimony, and so much of what she said I could’ve written verbatim. And so I decided I should. I got out an old journal where I knew I had started (once upon a time) an attempt at writing my beliefs, and the ins and outs of my walk. I read what I had written, and it made me sad. I was so gung-ho, but had only a single entry from August of 2008. The journal had not been touched since. Friday morning, I started writing my testimony. Friday afternoon, I found out about the shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut. The rest of the day was a fog. I kept writing until I fell asleep that night, and I’m not sure where I left off. When I finish this post, I will most likely print it and stick it in the journal, because it is now a part of my testimony. Saturday was tough. Everywhere I looked, someone was on a soap box about gun control, or God in schools, or whatever opinion they felt like blasting in the wake of this tragedy. It made me nauseous. Still does a little. The children hadn’t even been removed from the scene, and we as a nation were using their precious little spirits to wage verbal warfare against any and everyone we could possibly blame. I kept the TV off, and avoided Facebook like the plague, and I read my Bible, and held my son, and I sat in silence while the words of so many angry people filled me. I found the person responsible for all of this… it’s me. And it’s you. And it’s every single person who has ever turned a blind eye to the evils of the world. It’s the media for sensationalizing every gory detail of every horrid event. It’s the politicians who look out for their own well-being and don’t consider the people they serve. It’s the churches concerned with butts in the seat, and dollars in the offering plates when what should be the priority is God’s will. At some point or another, every one of us has compromised what is right for what is popular. It’s human. But we’ve been passively allowing our society to become overrun with evil. Evil is not always a red suit, tail, and pitchfork. It’s not always as obvious as a man who walks into a school with an assault rifle. Evil is everywhere, and it hides in plain sight until the moment we forget about it. By then, it’s too late, and we’re left picking up the pieces. The problem is that we’re not the ones who are paying for it… our children are. We have failed our children. Slowly, and quietly, we have sat by while society has turned into a monstrous poison and we let our children play in it. They eat, breathe, and live in the evils of this world, and we have failed to give them anything to protect themselves… and we’re not always there to protect them.
Sunday night, we had a guest speaker give the sermon. His name is Brian Love, and he’s a missionary in Alaska. I was expecting to hear about how everyone needs to drop what they’re doing and spread the Gospel to all the people in the world who don’t know any better. He stayed closer to home, and everything that had been inching its way into my gut just sank to the pit of my stomach all at once. He spoke of the Great Commission, Christ’s words to his disciples as he was ascending to his place at the right hand of God,
Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given complete authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
When he began, I thought this would be a call to mission work in foreign lands. It was not. Instead, he challenged us to do some answering for ourselves. Were we loving Jesus passionately? Were we sharing Jesus constantly? Jesus has called all Christians not only to be his disciples, but to make disciples of others. This is where everything came together for me. If we, as Christians, were truly being disciples for Christ would there be room for so much evil in our lives? If we were making disciples, who would then make disciples, and so forth, would our society be overrun with darkness? If our children could see us doing God’s will with every breath we take, and rejoicing in Him… what blessings could we share with them? Are our children not one of the greatest blessings God could give us? He has made in us the ability to create life, and moreover, the ability to shape a life. What shape can I give my son? He trusts me for everything he could ever need, and I owe it to him to provide for his every need. Physically. Mentally. Spiritually.
So here is my list of resolutions for this year. Some of them are easier than others. Some of them will start this year, but will not end until I am ended.
- Lose 17 pounds. A few weeks ago, this was going to be my biggest challenge. The balances have tipped slightly.
- Clean out the garage to make room for my craft area, so that I can in turn make room for the new nursery.
- Create a reading nook for my little guy. He has the greatest room for something fun like that, and everyone needs a space for them.
- Read the Bible everyday. I am going to follow a Read the Bible in a Year plan. Hopefully, my husband will as well.
- Start a parenting discipleship. I have been looking for several weeks for a devotional aimed toward parents. I want to find this, and share it with other parents.
- Teach my child the things that are important, like love and respect and prayer. Maybe if I start now, he can teach others.
- Finish writing my testimony. This may turn into a “keep writing” since, really, our life is our testimony.
So now I ask for prayers. Pray for our nation. Our leaders. Our schools. Our communities. Pray for the hurting, and those who are trying to offer their help. Pray for peace. For guidance. Pray without ceasing.