For the past year, I have felt held back from having the relationship with Christ that I know he wants to have with me. I have felt on the cusp of something more, but haven’t been able to reach it.
About two months ago, I came to a crossroads and realized that something needed to change. I wanted so much more for my life, something deeper. At that time, I felt I needed to commit to reading Psalm 63. I can’t even remember now how I stumbled upon that passage, but the way that David writes about longing for God in the desert truly inspired me. I wanted God the way that David did. So I chose to read Psalm 63 every day until I believed it to be true for me.
It’s day 50.
The past 50 days I have learned that coming to a crossroads isn’t something that happens just once. For me, I’m at a crossroads every single day. Each day I have the decision to be the kind of person God has called me to be or not. I’m almost 26, and there is no one forcing those decisions for me; it simply has to be what I desire.
I’m finally starting to accept that faith in Jesus Christ is not easy. It’s not. There are days where I don’t get it; I simply don’t understand both the wrath of Old Testament God and the grace of New Testament Jesus. There are days when I don’t understand why God allows disease, poverty, or corruption. I don’t know why he doesn’t just put a stop to it all.
But what I do know is that God has called me to a certain kind of life, a life of action. He has called me to step out in faith, trusting in him, and believe that my choices make a difference. Every day, when I find myself at the crossroads, my decisions matter. I can either choose to have the kind of real, deep faith that I believe will wreck my world, or I can sit back and wonder why it isn’t happening. The choice is mine.
No really, what would he do? It’s not just a bracelet, even though it might have started that way. It’s a way of doing life.
Some dude just pulled out in front of you. What would Jesus do? Grace.
Your boss just called you out in front of your team. What would Jesus do? Mercy.
A lady from church just spread a rumor about you. What would Jesus do? Forgive.
What would Jesus do? Probably 100% the opposite of our natural, human reaction. This month I’m being reminded that when something doesn’t go my way, my immediate reaction is not to act like Jesus.
So maybe I need to stop having knee-jerk reactions and start thinking about Jesus and how he did life.
Over the last two months, I’ve been asking God to show me clearly how to move forward with a pending decision. I repeatedly asked him for an open door; I wanted a clear yes or no.
I wanted God to tell me what to do.
What I really wanted was for God to give me a sign, a way for me to know that I was making the right choice. Then it dawned on me: God doesn’t always give us a yes or no. Period.
He doesn’t always give us a clear path or open door. Instead, he has equipped us with brains and the ability to problem solve. I’ve been learning that sometimes, instead of clearing that path for us, he puts information in it and let’s us figure it out. And he doesn’t always give us all the information, or the best information, or the clearest information. But he wants me to use my hand-crafted-by-the-creator-brain to make the best decision with the information I have available.
Sometimes that means taking a risk. Sometimes that means making a mistake. Sometimes that requires venturing into the unknown.
So really, it’s not about making the right decision, and it surely isn’t about waiting around until the right door opens.
What it’s really about, is taking the next step and pursuing him in the process.
A quote I saw on Twitter by a friend and colleague motivated me to write a brief entry in my journal. Below is what I wrote on June 5th.
Challenges prove that we can’t bear burdens alone, but instead must depend solely on God and connection with his people.
The challenges I’ve faced this year have definitely proven to me that my dependence on the Lord was not as strong as I thought. This year has really pushed and challenged me to rely more on God in seasons of difficulty, because I just can’t do it on my own.
I don’t know if I would’ve learned that without facing some major rock-bottom moments. Perhaps that is part of the bigger picture; why God allows us to endure painful seasons of life.
*Nikole Lim is a photographer, filmmaker, and advocate for social justice. Check out her website.
You can follower her on Twitter @Nikole_Lim
Last week, I was on the cusp of making a really stupid decision in anger, when I remembered something I heard a pastor say recently,
When God is not part of the decision-making process, you’ll always do the wrong thing.
So I stopped. I realized I hadn’t even considered what God might want me to do; I was too blinded by my anger. I opened my Bible, not knowing where to turn, and flipped to 1 Timothy. I began to read about the Lord’s grace toward Paul. At first, it didn’t seem like the direction I was seeking. But read 1 Timothy 1: 14, 16 with me:
The grace of our Lord was poured on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus…. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him.
I didn’t hear Jesus’ audible voice telling me exactly what to do. I didn’t receive a sign, or see words written in the sky. But I opened my Bible, and God directed me to exactly what I needed to hear in that moment. I was reminded that what I was about to do was act out in anger and frustration because I felt justified to do so. But after reading 1 Timothy, God spoke to me through those passages. He told me that he showed me mercy first, even while I was the worst of sinners. He showed me grace in my rebellion and sin so that he could be lifted up in my life. He showed me unlimited patience. Unlimited!
So I chose to show grace the way that Jesus shows it to me. I didn’t act out in anger. I didn’t send the text that would’ve made me feel powerful and in control. I didn’t let Satan win this battle; instead, I offered forgiveness and mercy.
And it felt awesome.
A few months ago I heard this quote:
One of Satan’s most brilliant lies is that if you surrender something to God, you’ll receive something less beautiful in return.
If you empty your hands, God will place something less amazing in them.
You’ll surrender gold and, in return, receive dirt.
This is so true and it keeps us from truly trusting that God wants what is best for us. I often forget that Satan is not in the business of making my life better. He wants to trap me in anger, emotional pain, anxiety and fear. Satan never wants what is best for me.
So why is it so difficult for us to give up our weaknesses to Jesus, wholly surrendering our failures, temptations and the sin in our lives? Why do we continually believe that he doesn’t want to give us beautiful things? Why do we let Satan’s lies become the trap that keeps us from enjoying God’s blessings?
Remember, Jesus loves you (really), and he wants to replace the crap in your life with something that is amazing and beautiful. He promises that when we seek him, he will allow us to prosper (Jeremiah 29:11-13).
Don’t believe Satan’s most brilliant lie. Don’t miss out on the incredible life God has for you; whatever it is, surrender it to him and he will give you something more beautiful in return.
*quote from Jon Acuff on his blog Stuff Christians Like
During this fast, I’ve been learning why forgiveness is difficult. First, true forgiveness requires that I am gracious; it requires me to look beyond my own pain and anger and be self-less.
But even after forgiveness comes, the wounds don’t close overnight; it takes time for them to heal and for hearts to recover from the hurt. I’ve found myself in a time of healing after forgiving a dear friend, and it’s a daily struggle to not let the bitterness creep in. Each day I must remind myself that I’ve chosen to forgive. I’ve chosen grace.
Because what is forgiveness if my heart becomes cold and cynical afterward? Jesus makes it clear that we should flee from bitterness, warning us of its corruptive nature.
Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.
Bitterness has the ability to take hold of our minds, warping our thoughts, emotions and perspective. It’s another way that Satan wins. We think we’ve done the right thing by offering our forgiveness, but we forget that the process isn’t over. We’re in a battle for our heart and winning comes from continually choosing grace, one day at a time.
My husband and I have been watching the Lord of the Rings series, which I must admit I haven’t seen since high school and college. Last night we watched the second film, and I was overwhelmed by an obvious theme throughout the movie: the battle between good and evil. There is a scene where Gandalf the Grey is fighting the Balrog, a dragon from Mordor who is a menacing creature surrounded by fire, darkness and evil. Gandalf is able to use his incredible power and might to defeat the enemy, even though it cost him his life. Later, Gandalf returns from death as Gandalf the White, guiding other kingdoms in the war against Mordor.
As I watched the battle in Lord of the Rings, I was overcome by the correlation between Gandalf and the Balrog and Jesus and Satan. As I watched Gandalf fight the dark dragon, I imagined my Savior in the same scene, fighting evil, death and darkness for ME. I was amazed by the picture of Jesus warring, to his death, the enemy in order to save me from a life consumed by darkness and despair.
I encourage you to watch the movie, again if you’ve already seen it, and recognize an alternative perspective. While reading this verse, I was reminded again that no one can withstand my Father.
“Lord, the God of our ancestors, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you.”
2 Chronicles 20:6