Wednesday, 22 June 2011

But it's always worth the fight...

If you haven't noticed by now (or if you aren't really following, which is totally ok), but I have been making a sentence by stringing together the titles of each entry. Right now it says "In the beginning, did you know, we are warriors fighting spiritual battles and sometimes we get tired but it's always worth the fight". (I know it's not really grammatically correct, but...) All this to show how connected things can be in our lives and how there is a bigger picture we just don't always see.
The past couple of days have been stressful for me and I have had my bouts of crying and eating chocolate. But I am learning...slowly, but at least it's forward progress. I liken it to working out. It will be uncomfortable in the moment, but it will all be worthwhile in the end. And when you're working out, you don't want someone standing beside you lifting the weights while you just go through the motions. You know it would be a totally worthless exercise. So the point is to keep at it and persevere if you want to have that beach body. And God promised never to give us more than we could bear. God knows that you are stronger than you think you are. And it's always so nice when you get to a point when you really don't think you can go any further, He will bless you.
I was at that point yesterday. I was so discouraged about getting a summer job with more hours and finances and I was just totally frustrated. I had resigned myself to being miserable when today, my unfixable computer was declared fixable in the next 24 hours. My $22 ticket for being at a meter for 15 minutes more than I'd paid for was rescinded. I found a dress for the weddings I have to attend and it was on sale twice to be less than half price. And I got more hours at my part time job. I don't believe this is God 'apologizing' or 'making up for' the past couple of days. I think it was more of a "congratulations! you're doing well! keep up the hard work! I see what you're going through and I'm proud of you for trying as best you can". I call it my "chicken and the egg". Do I trust God to look after me before He does or do I wait for a sign before I trust. The  Bible says that "faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen" (Hebrews  11:1). So as hard as it was to work through those things, I hold on to faith and believe that God  will stick to his promises and ultimately come through on them.
I know it sometimes feels like you're one of those dogs with a bone tied to a stick that's always just out of your reach. You feel like you'll never get there or never be good enough. I don't think that's the point. I think the only important thing is the effort, not the achievement. Be proud of a hard days work. As a  Christian, I am guaranteed a place in heaven when I die. So I will ultimately reach the final goal. People say it's not the destination that counts but the journey. I would totally agree. So struggle through the low points in the journey but don't forget the high points because they will and do happen. And always remember, the destination is assured.      

Thursday, 9 June 2011

And sometimes we get tired...

I know it's been a while since I posted anything. A testament to's always there and it always seems to be trying  to sprint past you. Lately I've been struggling with stuff. Looking for a summer job has been a big one,  especially for a university student who has tuition to pay soon.  I have no idea how many resumes I've sent out, but I know it's quite a few. And I have Christian references and volunteer work and extracurricular activities on my resume. I started looking in February and still don't have anything. I was told that it may be all that "Christian stuff" which made companies avoid me.
I struggled a lot as to whether I should lessen the amount of Christian content in order to get a job. I felt like I was somehow disowning God if I did that. Or I'd be lying by omission. I just couldn't feel right about making those changes. I thought that if no job was my persecution for Christ, it could be worse. I should be thankful that I have it so good. Then I started worrying about whether I was just being a snobby Christian who was "holier than thou" or being self-righteous about my resume. Was I too proud?
Talking to some other people who had had the same issue with Christian stuff on their resumes, they suggested that I rewrite it in a way that didn't emphasize the Christianity but more the skills I learned. So now I have two resumes. One that has been de-Christianized and then my normal one. I am still uneasy about having made those changes. I am trying to rely on God to give me a job and if I get one, it will be entirely his doing. I've tried for 4 months to get a job on my own and it hasn't worked. I am trying to give it to God and see where he wants me to be.
I have been writing this post over the last hour whilst doing other things and just checking my e-mail now, I have a job! And it came from one of the resumes I had sent out that has the "Christian stuff" on it. So to anyone wondering if it is worth  holding out and trusting God no matter what, I say, "Proverbs 3:5-6". I was trusting God but not with all my heart and I wasn't acknowledging him in ALL my ways. Change of a heart attitude can do wonders. So keep the faith, no matter who tells you otherwise or discourages you. God is the only one that matters. Do I regret making the changes to my resume? No, but neither am I proud of them. I let myself get discouraged and losing trust. However, God promised not to give you more than you can handle. I got to a point where I was giving up and God came to lift me up again.
In Bible study at my church, one of the big things we discuss is how much of God and how much of me. To that I say, give it your all. We are such small creatures in the grand scheme of things that our all doesn't amount to much and therefore God is the one who really does it all. Like a 0.00001% to a 99.9999999%. We have the honour of participating, but really, I have no doubt God to do it without us. So yeah, we get tired and sometimes those close to us are no help at all and actually discourage us. Cling to God at all times and have patience. Check your attitude and be fully reliant on God. Having the faith of a child will get you called naive but God says the kingdom of Heaven belongs to the little children. Take heart and keep the faith.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Fighting spiritual battles

The difficult thing about spiritual battles is the enemy we face. It may seem like the devil is a coward because he doesn't face us himself, but in fact, his plan of attack is pretty smart. Sometimes the enemy he sends to attack us is a friendly face. We don't want to hurt them, so we parry all of their blows and never go on the offensive. We expend so much energy trying to find a way to disable them without hurting them and maybe we just need to show them some tough love. I'm not saying slash them to pieces. I'm saying don't dance around, just tell them the truth straight up and show them the error of their ways.

Another enemy he sends our way is ourself; some difficulty or distraction in our armour that slows us down, makes us expend more effort, or lose our focus. Our cluster of soldiers that we built up loses its strength. We go back to fighting in isolation, guarding our own back until the weak member is replaced or defeats their enemy. We may not be as weak as the weakest link, but we lose the strength that we found in being united. We are only as strong as we as individuals are. To gain strength back, we must weave our strength and abilities in with others. There is a point at which we must brave vulnerability and reach out in faith to someone and ask them to pray. There is a point where we must raise our visor, expose our tear streaked, dirty, sweat stained face and yell above the din, "pray for me! Guard my back." It is at this point with our visor raised that people can see our humanity, our weakness, our need. We must be brave enough to show that or else we will never gain the strength and support of others.

And we definitely need the strength that comes from unity. Thinking about it more and having another one of "those" days, I realize there are two more enemies. They are the byproducts of continual struggle. They are frustration and fatigue. Frustration causes us to swing wildly at our opponent with very little concern about aim. We effectively waste energy and even  in our wild craze of swinging, we may hit a nearby friend completely unintentionally. The phrase "venting your frustration" is common but usually means our frustration comes out at the people who least deserve it and in the most unproductive way.

And fatigue, which comes from constantly battling without taking time to rejuvenate, can be hastened by frustration. So in order to be a solid support for others and a soldier for Christ, it is important to, every once in a while, step back from the battle and breathe, rest, and rejuvenate. The people you support would rather cover for you and work a little harder now for two minutes than later for two days. So rest, breathe, do something fun and don't worry. The battle will still be there when you get back. Take all the time you need, but don't let it go on indefinitely because if you wait too long, your blade will go rusty and you'll miss opportunities.

And when you get back, don't forget to update your supporting soldiers. While you were removed from the situation, you may have thought of a new tactic. Or an enemy may have been defeated. Whatever changes may have taken place, let people know so that the formation can change to be as efficient and as strong as possible. If you defeat an enemy, let your comrades know so they can share in your joy and be encouraged. Communication is key to having a strong unit. Prayer is good and although it's not as if the general is oblivious, but specifics are always nice. So share when things change because the prayer support may change with it.  

Saturday, 12 March 2011

We are warriors...

I was walking with my mom a while ago along the river. I was taking her to my favourite place on the far side where a run off drain has made a perfect niche in the trees and you can sit on the concrete with your feet dangling over the river. The cathedral rises above the trees across from where we sit. It's a place of peace, calm, and serenity; a place to think that I enjoy going to whenever I can. Life's concerns and confusion can all be laid aside for a moment of quiet. But it is only a moment and I must eventually turn my back on the water and wade into my own river that is the craziness of my life.

In the space of one week about a year ago, my eyes were opened to all the spiritual battles that are going on around me and I continue to see them. I truly feel thrust back into a chaotic battlefield that was previously set aside during my moment of respite. It seems that the closer we are to God, the more involved we become in the spiritual battle. And as my eyes are opened to this battle I am fighting, I also see friends who are fighting. Although we have different struggles, we are all in the same battle.

Talking to a friend late one night, he asked me to pray for him because he was fighting a spiritual battle. This stirred in me the realization that asking me to pray did not mean asking me to fight. It was more of a request to "have his back" and be united while we both fight our own battles. I don't think I really understood that before. I always felt bad about sharing my problems with others because I thought I was adding to their burden. But in reality, I'm asking them to shift their position on the battlefield so as to have my back, but not to stop their own fight.

And as we fight, God is there in the midst of all the chaos. He stands in the middle of our united circles so that he can support and connect us all. We surround him not because he is weak, but with our limited human ability, even in our frailness, the faithful desire to uphold his name and bear his standard.

And our struggles to protect him are so human and small. Like a lion cub fighting off grasshoppers while the lioness guards against the hyenas. And not to belittle our struggles, I know mine feel like the world is entirely against me, but to realize that our God is a fierce and mighty warrior and he does not need us to fend off grasshoppers. I think I forget the awesome power of God sometimes. It was during a youth conference last year that I realized I do not fear God. I saw him as the Old testament people might have seen him 2000 years ago. He was not the warrior king who had come to drive out the Romans. He was a man who allowed himself to be killed and they saw his mortality. At times I was arrogant enough to think God needs my protection so that he is not beaten down. How foolish I was! His strength and sheer power are too great for me to even begin to understand. So yes, our battles are difficult. And yes, we can ask for prayer warriors to guard our backs. And yes, we seek to bear Christ's standard with honour, dignity, bravery and perseverance. But don't for one moment think that God is small enough or weak enough to need our human efforts.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Did you know...

I don't know if I ever really knew this before. Well, I maybe knew it as a fact but it never meant anything to me until very recently. It's probably the most important thing that could ever be true in this world and I didn't know. God. LOVES. me.

I think it's very easy to ignore because He's not physically staring at me face-to-face and telling me that He loves me. And I'm not even talking about the depth of love that caused Him to die for me. That kind of love will still take time to understand and even fully accept. But I'm talking about the little daily things that I take for granted and yet it's Him telling me each and every single day that He wants to hold me and cherish me and wrap me in His arms and say "My darling, I love you". It is the only perfect love that will ever exist and I didn't open my heart to it. 

Love is so much more than we attribute to it. I "love" that new movie or I "love" chocolate. We don't use hate so easily, so why is love becoming so commonplace? 

My eyes were openned to this love when I was crying at 9 at night, skyping with my brother. My Mom calls and says she's coming to take me out for coffee. I asked if my brother had called my mom and told her to call me. He said no and the first thing that came to my mind was "Well then God loves me". And the joy and love I felt when I realized what I had just said was incredible. Now I know to look for God's love every day and He never fails to disappoint. I see His love in a friend's perfectly timed cheerful smile. I see it when the bus I should have missed happens to be running late. I see it in a little child who comes to give me a hug and slobbery kiss. 

People think it's hard to have a loving relationship with someone who's so "distant". He is not a physical presence that you can see, touch, hear, experience. In fact, God is much closer than we realize. We don't see "Him" because I think He uses ordinary people already in our lives to show how much He loves us. We just don't give Him the credit. Not to diminish the love my Mom has for me, but it is God who has perfect timing and occassionally will pass that timing on to the person who can help the one who needs it. 

Think of the movie "P.S. I love you". We think it's so cute that Gerard Butler orchestrates the trips and the gifts and we give him all the credit for it. No one thinks it's actually the leprechaun who loves her. She feels so loved because he took the time to show her his love. We don't love the mailman because he brings us letters from friends. We love the friends who sent them. God is the one behind it all. All of it. 

So take joy in the fact that there is someone who will always love you more than you realize. And thanks to all the friends who have let God use them (knowingly or unknowingly) to show me love. It gives me a new understanding of the verse in the Bible that says "We love because He first loved us." (1 John 4:19). I can't know a love like this and not share it so that you may also know a love like this. A perfect love from a perfect God who wants to love YOU. I hope that by showing you love, you might feel a small part of what God's love is like. He loves you and because of Him, so do I. 

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

In the Beginning...

In the beginning, there was a little girl who saw the world in black and white. What was right was right and life was good. God was good. This little one still believes that God is good and her goal is to always remain a child of faith who can look at the world and say  "Somehow, some way, God is in control". 

Mark 10: 14-16 "When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.

We as adults call it silly or naive and think of that as a bad thing when a child asks God for something small and seemingly insignificant. When a child asks for a rainbow on a cloudy day, we roll our eyes and think "yeah right, good luck". Yet we are put to shame when it happens and the child never had any doubts. We want to see God do something amazing and yet fail to see the things he is showing us. We need to go back to a world where we are not distracted by all the noise and business,  when we were in awe of the world and not just living in it. We have lost the awestruck, joyful feeling that we had as a little child. A child does not always understand the goings on, but they trust that Mommy and Daddy will look after them. We  need to trust in Daddy again. We need to go back to the beginning.