- 1 Pain
- 1.1 Lifestyle Prayer (February 7, 2012)
- 1.2 The Battle (February 9, 2012)
- 1.3 Opposite Emotions (February 16, 2012)
- 1.4 Finally Fruit (February 21, 2012)
- 1.5 Humility (February 23, 2012)
- 1.6 Suffering (February 27, 2012)
- 1.7 Spiritual Warfare (February 27, 2012)
- 1.8 Community (February 28, 2012)
- 1.9 Buy a Real Book!
- 1.10 Continue Reading…
Two Years! God, two wonderful years of joy. Going ever further into the depths of understanding God’s love for me and the wonderful transformation that is taking place.
In 2010, I did not just experience a life-changing event, I began a life-long journey. Though at the time of decision I was flooded with peace and spent the next few days on the clouds telling everyone what a wonderful thing had happened, I was still clinging to the smoldering pile of my previous burnt up belief system.
Abandoning this meant giving up everything I had ever believed, and it made working as a camp counselor rather complicated that following summer. The difficult part of being brought out of a religious system that based itself on the truth of what I now believed was identifying the lie. It took close to a year for me to finally understand what it was.
During that year I continued to read the Bible, talk with friends, pray, and avoid the church (I am still finding it difficult to go back to the church where I once was deceived). In all this, my attempt was not to learn through logic, but to provide God with the tools to teach me through life. Truth cannot be taught. It must be discovered. I still wanted to learn how to be a good Christian. Instead of theory, I was now focused on practice.
I spent a good part of my time overseas during that year and was involved in churches where people sought to experience God in charismatic ways. There was a lot of emphasis on emotion. Some was practical, but a lot was seeking a sensation. This realization that people emphasizing experiential truth began pursuing emotion the way people emphasizing objective truth began pursuing knowledge frustrated me. I knew neither of these was where I wanted to be, but the experience seemed more alive or real. “I am the way, the truth… (John 14:6)” kept coming to mind.
Probably the most interesting concept I encountered at the time was the idea of the Kingdom of God – this Kingdom that Jesus came to establish on earth and that my friend James believed tied back somehow to Israel. Israel was to be a people led by God to be a blessing to the world, but it demanded a king. Jesus had come to be that king, but being rejected opened the Kingdom to all. I don’t remember what he said in our hours of conversation and Bible study, but he brought the Kingdom of God out of the world of fairy tales into real life for me.
Meanwhile Kevin, one of my mentors, demonstrated how it was lived. I began to see that faith is not an individual belief in the doctrines of a bullet-point list, but a lifestyle that demonstrates this Kingdom to the world. That is what Jesus did. That is not what Christians do.
Even with this in mind, I began to view Christianity as little more than a lifestyle of morality until one day in April.
I was walking near the community gardens by the River Thames after a Summit Oxford session when the warm sun hit my face and a sliver of truth appeared in my mind. I realized that the biblical story was a record of the history of God’s relationships with men. Though I didn’t grasp it all then, I eventually came to understand that the goal of Scripture is not to understand Scripture, but to reveal the person behind the Scripture. Christianity was not about the Bible, or an experience, or a lifestyle, but about a relationship that included all this and more. Even in my simple faith mindset, I was seeking the right answer, but not the right relationship.
Thus, even in my discovery of the truth, I had accepted the lie of Christianity: that knowing about God and accepting certain principles as valid, or experiencing certain things, or acting in a certain way is enough. All of that is good, but only in the context of a relationship with God. That is what makes Christianity different from any other religion: knowing God.
My friend Zak continued to share what God was teaching him about how Christians were made to love other people. Our purpose in life is to show others God’s love. “To do that,” he said, “we must first know God’s love for us.”
Like most people, I knew little of love growing up, and had shielded myself from feeling any emotion. After a year of doing and saying what I wanted in 2011, I learned to know my desires, but I still could not feel. I was a man without a heart.
At some point, I realized that emotions are a good part of human nature. They reflect a God who feels and displays emotion. Until I learned to feel my emotions, my enjoyment of God would be limited. I had known something of this since 2009 but was scared of what could happen as I began to feel again.
Though I am not yet emotionally mature, something happened and God has replace my heart with a little piece of His own. I feel love, joy, peace, and more toward God and others. These building blocks of relationships have made my life worth living.
Coming back after a Christmas break where I missed my friends for the first time and had a ton of fun with my family, God began to take our relationship to the next step. I have written extensively about the hours of prayer, the tears of prayer and broken heart for others, the sacrifice of my desires for wealth and fame, the struggle with fear of man, the days filled with knowledge of God, the moments of quiet peace, the fresh and refreshing Scripture, the joyful worship, the gratefulness for struggle, and the ever-growing knowledge of my role in God’s Kingdom. The love I’ve been given for others, the trust in hard times, the excitement over God’s work, the vision for the future, and the ridiculous addiction to prayer only touch the surface of all God is doing.
The ray of hope I received in Oxford has grown into a full-sized sun – a fire that consumes my life in the most wonderful way imaginable.
God has filled me with love for his church in America and has called me to bring them the same hope He has brought me: a relationship with Him. He has already begun to let me do this on campus as I share my story with others.
I have reached a level of maturity where the fragile faith I have will begin a series of testing to prepare me for the task ahead. My relationship with God will sustain me in the struggle as I look to him, but I must boldly face the challenge of defending my faith against the evil powers I was rescued from. Led by truth and living in love, secure in faith and filled with the Spirit, I accept.
Lifestyle Prayer (February 7, 2012)
Over the past week, I have spent two days where I knew my entire life was a worship song to God. Instead of having my spiritual and real lives separated somehow, both of them made more sense together. Yet, I will say that coming to a time of prayer where I focused exclusively on me and God was the most exciting part of the day. I could not wait to get back to the prayer room at the end of the day.
Yesterday, I realized I am still somewhat bashful about my Christian habits. When I was printing off prayer sheets and making a sign for the prayer room, I really didn’t want anyone to see me. However, whenever I talk with someone, the conversation always goes back to what God is doing.
In the evening after dinner, I was saying goodbye to some friends I hadn’t seen in awhile when I had the urge to ask them where they are going to church these days. This question led to two hours of conversation where I learned the story of two people who grew up trusting God and knowing His work in their lives. It is interesting how God is bringing together the people who know how much fun it is to know Him.
After listening to the prompting to talk with these two, I was surprised to find myself resisting the suggestion to pray for a friend of mine later in the evening. Sometimes I get confused about what is my idea and what is God speaking. Other times, I just don’t want to do what He asks. I don’t know why. Whenever I listen I am blessed; whenever I don’t listen, He doesn’t love me any less.
After about an hour of prayer last night, I don’t know what happened, but I became so emotionally built up that I couldn’t help but laugh. It was the most frustrating, wonderful experience because I couldn’t quite handle or express the feeling I had.
But I also couldn’t imagine anything better. It reminded me that I am still a little baby in faith and God will never let me experience more than I can handle of the good or the bad. I cannot wait to be more mature and know more of His love. At the same time, I am very happy with what I have been given so far.
The Battle (February 9, 2012)
Oh the pain of the heart that is transformed,
And the joy of the life that is reborn.
In the process momentary feeling fire,
That is growing, burning my desire.
Oh the love that I can’t bear to understand:
You teach me in the process, hold my hand.
Desire realized strong to kill,
But as I grow, your love more still.
Confounded by emotion resting somewhere in between,
Greatest sorrow, endless joy, to sobbing laughter bring.
To explain the moment that will forever last:
Impossible to leave, but gone, return right fast.
Oh the knowledge, oh the feeling, spirit, mind –
Nothing part, but wholly lost, and finally found.
The search that ended, just begun;
The fight beginning, victory won!!
Opposite Emotions (February 16, 2012)
It is not the refreshed soldier with spotless armor that the enemy runs away from. The enemy runs from the one whose sword has seen action, whose clothes are covered in sweat and who realistically should be exhausted but fights on driven by inhuman strength derived from passion. This is the one who blindly and fearlessly rushes upon the enemy with the intention of producing results – not necessarily surviving or looking great in the process.
That is the Christian I aspire to be. But I do not fight alone. I follow a great leader and have support from an army like me and of other kind. The battle is not against flesh and blood or the physical world that I see. It is against the powers of darkness that do not exist in human form, but by whom most of the world is held captive. Thus, my greatest work will be done through prayer (Ephesians 6:18).
I am frustrated by the condition I find myself in. While experiencing more fully the joy of knowing God and living in His presence, I am beginning to feel pain and suffering so strongly that I am on the verge of crying. None of this is for myself. With regard to all the things I could worry about, I have peace. I am like a little child running through the castle of God’s grace having a marvelous time until I look out the window to see the pain and hurt of those who can only see a clump of cold stones when they look back.
How do I praise God with joy when there is so much wrong in the world: the church dying beneath the weight of religion, the children who starve by the millions, the slaves and abused, the sick and hopeless…. Why did God send his people into Egypt for slavery or to Babylon for captivity? Why did Jesus never run out of people who needed His help? If I am to do greater things than He did (if that is the proper understanding of John 14:12), why do I find myself staring at a problem I feel helpless to solve?
I know God could fix it if He wanted to, but wonder why He allowed it in the first place. The only reason I can see is so a person can know Him more full – to experience God’s strong arms carrying one through an impossible trial.
Then what about those who don’t know God? Is their lot just to suffer?
This is where I can bring hope and have the responsibility to do so. Putting it that way, though, sounds like I am fighting against God’s work. Even those who know God still suffer persecution.
It seems there is no escape from this capricious nature of God that allows evil and withholds its solution. He even allows those who trust and know Him best to experience the same suffering, though He carries their spirits through.
The only accessible alternatives place the source of suffering outside the responsibility of God. It is a result of anti-God. Of sin. In such a case, He has provided the solution through great personal suffering. Even so the solution seems inadequate for the severity of the problem. In the end, death becomes the welcome escape for the uncomforted.
I have asked to know God’s heart and come to see the world as He does, but it becomes sadder and more heart-breaking the clearer the picture becomes. I am trying to reconcile what I see with what I know about God, but find it difficult.
I have also asked to feel emotion and I have experienced the greater depth of life that exists when I embrace my emotions as part of who I am. Now, I experience the pain that others are going through in a way that affects me, though I cannot fix it. Even now, I begin to understand I can never make the pain go away…but I can fight. I can fight for others to be free. I have aligned myself with the winning side, have prepared for battle, and even now begin to charge.
Finally Fruit (February 21, 2012)
My personality tests are producing totally different results than even last year. My first spiritual gifts analysis showed pastoring, faith, and music as my top three gifts. It makes sense with the desires and passions God has put in my heart. The quest for love and joy, the two fruits of the Spirit I nobly engraved on my last birthday as my spiritual goals for the past year, became utterly impossible.
The fruits of the Spirit as ends in themselves do not exist, but are a byproduct of seeking to know their source. To know them I had to submit to be changed by the Holy Spirit and to redirect my pursuit toward knowing God. More rightly, toward loving God. I cannot claim to have found them, but to have tasted something of their sweetness. Now I long for more. I long to return to the place where I have lost myself in perfect delight in God’s presence and worship in sincerity, in spirit, and in truth (John 4:23, 24).
It is the place I have always wanted to be, have glimpsed, have partly experienced, and must fight to know for the rest of my life. The physical, spiritual, mental, and emotional are connected in an epic struggle of good versus evil in which every person participates. The power to do good is available, but the choice to do evil is mine. Even knowing this: the temptation can still win over the truth as I struggle with my fallen nature (Romans 7).
I am being made into a new man, but the process is not complete. Life is not a destination; It is a journey. For me, the road has become much sweeter, the paths more pleasant and life worth living
God has taught me to love. I have a reason to wake up each day. I have learned to understand and feel and even appreciate emotions. I am blessed with some incredible friends this semester that I love and enjoy hanging out with. I learn new things about God and His love and who I am every week. If I did not trust, I would probably go insane with all that is going on. Every night, though, I spend a long refreshing time in prayer that I anticipate more than my bedtime.
Humility (February 23, 2012)
Every day, I find myself thinking I can do it on my own. I can follow God in my own strength. I can do what is right. I know what is good. I can work out my relationship with God. My growth comes from my effort.
But once again I am forced to confront my own weakness. I am unable to love. I cannot force my heart to seek God. I know what is good, but I desire and act on what is evil. In my own strength, I am nothing. Only my pride could think that my faith is my own doing.
How did I get here in the first place? Did I discover the love of God? Did I uncover His hiding place? Did I have the faith to take the first step toward Him? Can I do anything good by my own power? No. He found me.
I asked for help and He came. He called me to Him and helped me to take my first steps. Then I thought I could walk on my own and discovered that human nature is weak. I could not walk on my own. But grown-up people claim to walk on their own. Why couldn’t I?
Perhaps following God is not a process of maturing by growing up and becoming independent, but of maturing by coming to recognize my true nature and learning to depend entirely on God. I did not start the process and I cannot finish it on my own. This means that I cannot fail.
It also means my worst enemy is that which deceives me into believing that God’s work is my responsibility.
I cannot change my heart, but I can humble myself before a God who can. He will not despise the sacrifice of a broken and contrite heart (Psalm 51:16, 17). Therefore, I will once again bring Him that which is broken and twisted to see Him make it whole.
My faith rests not in the actions I can take. They have no ability to produce results. Prayers and ceremonies are not a magic formula for change and are worthless except as instruments in His hand. Hearing, studying, and learning truth will only increase the hardness of my heart unless God chooses to reveal Himself through them (2 Timothy 3:7, Isaiah 6:9-10, Matthew 13:13).
Unless God opens my ears, I will not understand or hear when all creation shouts His praise. Emotions become absurd if I separate them from the nature of God.
I turn to seek God and find Him standing not far away. All the joy of knowing Him lies just beyond the fear of man.
My longing is not for growth, but for Him (Psalm 42:1). How tangled my pursuit becomes when my objective is obscured by that which could help me attain it. If I seek Him I will grow; if I seek to grow, I may not find Him
Suffering (February 27, 2012)
Looking back over the past couple weeks, the times when God has used me to pray for and encourage someone else stand out the most. Each time has begun with recognizing that the other person is in need of something, praying about what to say, and then speaking truth into their lives. It is different than my conversations have ever been. Instead of trying to win or prove a point, my goal is to love and encourage the person (2 Timothy 2:23-25). In the process, what comes from my mouth is a combination of Scripture and application that leaves me so encouraged I know it could not have come from inside me. This is, in fact, the Holy Spirit speaking through me.
In addition to praying with people directly, I have been able to spend hours praying alone and with other friends on behalf of people I care about. This type of prayer is utterly exhausting, but at the same time completely rewarding. It is part of fighting a spiritual battle on behalf of others. Because of what happened last week, I approach it with an understanding that I represent the Kingdom of God and have the authority to invoke Jesus name against the power of darkness.
Two weeks ago in prayer, I was prepared to face a difficult week knowing that I could trust in God. That week turned out to be incredibly demanding spiritually as God brought me to realize certain things about His character and His Kingdom that were difficult for me to accept.
Tuesday, I began to read through Ezekiel after being fascinated by the picture of God’s magnificence described there. Then I was sucked into the rest of it.
Wednesday, a preacher talked about Jesus’ Great Commission to his followers in Matthew 28:18-20. He mentioned that many churches were full of people pretending to be Christians. He then began to describe a logical solution to the problem.
“If people only understood Christianity properly,” he said, “the churches would wake up.”
But his understanding of Christianity began by overlooking the call to make disciples and focusing entirely on evangelism. He outlined the solution to apathy as defining the correct method of preaching that would keep people from praying a prayer and becoming false converts.
During the whole sermon, he mentioned nothing of the power of God or the required work of the Holy Spirit in a person’s heart. Because this is the very distortion of Christianity that led to my faith in reason instead of God, I became extremely angry.
If the choice to have faith in Jesus is a miracle, then it cannot be brought about through proper understanding of a message or acting out a predefined response. There is no magic formula to the process of following God.
If the preacher had begun with the premise of discipleship as the passage does, he may have come closer to solving the problem of sleeping churches. However, he completely overlooked that point and tried to support the worship of reason that so many Christians are stuck in today. This made me so angry that I began to question if people who believe such things can even be Christians. Sometimes it is so hard to tell. Was I a Christian when I trusted in my knowledge of the truth to save me?
The next day, the gospel choir sang in chapel and I became lost in the music, lost in prayer. I found myself face to face with a small bit of God’s glory and was completely overwhelmed. I did not know what to do except worship and sing and pray. While I was in this state of clearly recognizing God’s truth, beauty, and power, He brought into my mind an image of complete suffering. This image was so strong that I can remember it even now.
While God’s goodness remained above where I stood, I looked straight across from where I was and saw a small black child with shrunken arms, a bloated stomach and a hopeless look wandering about through a wasteland. There was no food and no hope. Those who cared could not help him to discover even the basic things needed for survival. He was going to die in a few hours.
Then I looked up at the perfect grandeur of God and could not understand how the two visions could exist at once. I began to cry because there was nothing I could do to help the child. Though I did not understand how such a thing completely opposite God’s nature could occur, I knew it must somehow work. I further knew that when my heart broke for the child, God’s heart broke even more so. But why didn’t He do something? Or, why didn’t I? What did I need to do?
Skipping life for the rest of the day, I returned to my dorm, shut off my phone, began to pray, and to read through Genesis. There I saw that God created everything good and the fall distorted things. I then moved to Ezekiel and was so shaken by what I was discovering that I fell into a fitful sleep from which I woke in prayer and returned for about six more hours.
Sometime in the late evening, I roused myself enough to continue reading through Ezekiel where I discovered a God who loved His people, but who loved His reputation more. Here was a God who spoke and hardened people’s hearts so they couldn’t hear Him. Here was a God who gave the prophets a false message to give the people who didn’t truly seek Him. Here was the God who harassed, chased down, and destroyed those who turned away from Him and rejected His call to come back. But here also I found a God who did not forget His covenants with His people and who sent everything to them so that they or others might see and glorify Him.
After months of discovering a loving God, I was shocked by the cold-hearted nature and passionate anger described in the book of Ezekiel. I continued reading into the book of Daniel and saw the power of God demonstrated over the strongest Kingdoms of the world. Why didn’t this God take care of the poor child I had seen earlier? I read part of Job – the last part about the way that people cannot understand the nature of what God does (Job 33-42). And finally, I found myself in the book of Revelation looking at how the story would end. It was not until 2:00 am that my prayer found its answer.
Tracing the suffering to its source leads one to sin every time. The curse was a result of sin. The evil rulers that create unstable economic conditions and prevent aid are servants of sin. The passive nature of Christians and those who live comfortably is sin. Moreover the fact that this child does not know about the goodness and grace of God that could carry him through the difficulty with joy is complete evil.
My response, then, to this great dichotomy is to pursue the picture of God I had seen above and to struggle with the evil I had seen below. The battle is not one of economics, or business, or politics, but one of spiritual proportions. Therefore, my role as a knight of the Kingdom of Heaven is to fight against sin wherever I find it. As I do, those who, like this child, find themselves bearing the brunt of sin’s curse will be freed.
This fight begins in my own life by resisting the temptation to sin, by learning to love, and by recognizing the work God is doing to build His Kingdom. It continues by sharing this light with others, by pointing them toward the goodness of God, and by helping them to find the path that God has placed before them. Though it includes using the gifts that God has given me in business to practically confront the problem, the solution begins and ends with prayer.
As I come to recognize both the source and solution to this problem, I believe that God is going to use the clear distinction between the kingdoms of light and darkness to stir into me a passion for the work that I do while at the same time keeping me focused on pursuing Him.
God’s perfection and the results of sinfulness can exist simultaneously because of humanity’s willing rejection of God. His creation and His Kingdom are what mankind longs to see – what all creation groans after (Romans 8:19-23) – but they will never find that restoration until they first submit to His authority. As long as sin and rebellion remain, so does suffering.
Whether it is a gift from God to draw people toward Him, or simply the result of His absence through willing banishment, such evil as I saw is a reflection of God only as it reveals what is opposite His nature. His work in my life and in the lives of those around me is part of the solution to the problem. My rebellion or apathy is part of the problem. As part of the Kingdom of God, I can choose to directly confront the problem or pretend like it does not exist. I cannot do the second.
Spiritual Warfare (February 27, 2012)
Within less than a week, this ongoing battle between good and evil would become incredibly real. I knew that my prayer for others, prayer with others, and my personal choices were part of something greater: fighting against evil. I didn’t know just how personal this battle could become. Yet, God in His grace spent a week equipping me with a gift that has transformed my approach to spiritual warfare: rest.
At the end of the week, I was tired and in prayer came to understand that the next week would be a week of rest. In response, I spent much of the week looking for that rest, but did not find it. I became distressed that I was unable to feel spiritually rested even when God had promised it to me. I knew I wasn’t worried about life. I was able to submit my dreams and problems to God and let Him handle them. What worried me was my inability to receive God’s promise. Each night in prayer, I heard the same promise, but then I spent the day trying to create its realization for myself.
Tuesday and Wednesday night in prayer, I realized that my focus was not on God, but was barely able to bring it back. Wednesday night, my friend, Susanna, prayed for me to fight through the distractions around me, to see God, and to wake refreshed the following morning. Thursday, I woke up and felt as though I had been holding my breath underwater and had just come up for a breath of air. It was exhilarating and refreshing – the kind of wake-up call a person wants to have every morning!
Near the end of the day, I was praying about why I had not found the rest I was promised, and came to understand that I had once again become distracted by the great things God had put in my life. Instead of the promises they were meant to be, they had become vines that I had to hack through in order to see Him.
I could not do Christianity by myself, and I could not find rest by myself. I would only find rest when I no longer tried to produce it and no longer cared about it or anything else besides knowing Jesus. Since then, I have experienced the rest that was promised even though I have been working incredibly hard on business and in prayer. It took me through circumstances that would have been incredibly rough.
One of them involves a girl I have become especially good friends with this semester. She knows how to listen to Jesus and talked to me on Wednesday about recognizing my smallness before God’s greatness. It seems that the more one recognizes the power of the Kingdom of Light, the more the power of the kingdom of darkness becomes active. If there is no light, it is not awakened to the threat. Where light is, darkness becomes afraid.
Evil has no power over a child of God who lives under the authority of Jesus. However, it seems able to affect those who leave the safety of this circle of light. Though its power is completely regulated by God’s permission, there are times when for growth or for repentance, evil is allowed to influence a Christian’s life.
It was in this blinded position that I found my friend uncontrollably speaking terrible things and trying to hurt herself and those around her. Whether it was for attention or for reasons beyond her control, she needed to be physically restrained. For three hours, several people prayed with her, read the Bible, and sang songs. However, none of this seemed to help until she described the lies that had been running through her head and heard them refuted by the Scripture.
I looked into her eyes in the middle of the trauma and realized the fear that can take hold of a person if he or she is outside of God’s will or fails to focus on His power. Since that time, I have been assaulted by a hint of fear that would do something similar to me unless I stay focused on Jesus. This is where my understanding of Peter’s experience walking on water comes from.
I am like Peter, who walked on the water by faith. If I choose to look around me, see the danger, and become afraid, I will begin to sink. As long as I fix my eyes on Jesus and ignore the waves that crash around me, I will stand firm and see God do miraculous things through me.
I must focus on Him, though. The minute I become fascinated by walking on the water or become afraid of where my faith has brought me, I am in danger. I must not fear reaching such a position either. It is not I who have made my progress possible, but Jesus who has called me. He began the work in my heart and will carry it to its completion (Philippians 1:6).
Good finds its opposite in evil and those who recognize the power of good will also be capable of recognizing the power of evil. The question that remains in my mind is not whether spiritual warfare exists, but in what form it reveals itself all around me, what I can do to fight it, and how I can stay so close to Jesus that I never need to fear it. From the circle of light, I can laugh at the enemy because Jesus has all power and authority (Matthew 28:18).
However, I must also struggle to stay strong in my faith and resist the temptation to venture into sin on my own. For I am only vulnerable to the power of evil if I choose to submit to it, recognize it, or fear it.
Coming to this understanding makes life incredibly serious. It puts me on edge to write this. I am very glad that I have not encountered spiritual warfare so directly before this time and before coming to understand what it means to rest. Now I am able to walk through the valley of the shadow of death with no fear and to eat at the table spread before me in the presence of my enemies.
Knowing that I am safe so long as I stay within God’s will; knowing that He has brought me to where I am and will continue to work in my life; knowing that I confront evil by His power at work within me; recognizing that this is the battle I have been born to fight – that it will never be over until Jesus returns or calls me to my rest, that the real world I have wished to find is now before my eyes, though faintly – I must not choose otherwise than to move boldly forward in the name of Jesus carrying the Sword of the Spirit, protected by the Shield of Faith, Walking in the Shoes of Peace, Held together by the Belt of Truth, Living under the Breastplate of Righteousness and fitting my mind under the Helmet of Salvation (Ephesians 6:10-18).
God has asked me to submit my mind to Him. This I do not yet know how to do, but continue to respond to what He asks of me. My goal is to stop questioning what He tells me to do, but to do it immediately so that I do not miss opportunity. Multiple times this week, I have been prompted to pray for someone or talk to someone. Each time I began to think too hard about whether I was supposed to or not. Each time I disobeyed, within moments the opportunity had passed, the person had gone, or someone else had done or encouraged me to do what I should have done. Each time, it became obvious that I had not been faithful with what I had heard.
I continue to look for a church. God continues to press on me the value of meeting with other Christians. I am upset by the idea of church where people do not know each other and cannot encourage each other with the work that God is doing in their lives. For now, I continue to fellowship with the Christians here at Cedarville University and learn from the sermons by Brendan at my Irish church. These, together with a day of rest, form my Sabbath ritual, but I continue to feel drawn back to the formalized church setting, though I don‘t know where.
Community (February 28, 2012)
A person can spend a long time in prayer and never meet with God. After praying last night for close to two hours, I realized that I had not taken the time to come close to God. In fact, I could have spent the entire time talking with myself. It took a conscious effort and a request to seek God with all my heart to realize His magnificence and spend some time in worship. In doing so, I reopened myself up to listening and responding.
Again, I was told to go pray for someone. Immediately my mind started rationalizing why I should or shouldn’t, but I prayed that I would submit my mind to God as He has asked. This did not make things easier. I did not want to go. I didn’t know what I was supposed to say, but realized that I wouldn’t know until I went over to my friend and started talking.
I stood up. Still didn’t want to go, asked for the first thing to say, got that, and slowly forced myself to start walking. After two seconds of awkwardness, I got out the first words I was given and had nothing left. Then, I asked to pray with her. The two of us together entered God’s presence and were blessed and refreshed. Immediately after, I brought up a special memory God had given this person without knowing it and after a little bit went away blessed and happy that I had finally listened.
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