I feel I'll be blogging a bit more frequently because I seem to constantly have something on my mind as of late. I bounce back and forth between hard questions I'm working through in my mind, and the simplicity of having a real relationship with Christ and others. My last post was about one of the hard questions...one of the challenges...This one is about the relationships and the encouragement I'm finding.
I've been struggling with the concept of sacrifice lately. As mentioned in earlier writings, I'd already settled the importance of giving things to God. I remember that being in God's will means that I have to deny myself daily. I am choosing to not hold onto anything. To fight selfishness. To give everything one hundred percent to my Father and find peace in that. If anything is getting in the way of my relationship with Him, I am trying to crucify it.
Resentment. Bitterness. Being angry at God.
These things are unfair. They are so self-centered and self-absorbed. I've chosen to sacrifice any urges towards these feelings to God. My very hurt, my lonliness, my desires, my anger...anything. Those very emotions can be sacrifices. I can sacrifice the urge to feel any of those things. I can choose not to.
It's funny. I know that is a hard concept to understand. Emotions seem like something you just feel, and can't help. And in many ways you cannot help how you feel. But I do believe if we choose to give something over to God we can actively fight those urges, and sacrifice them to God, we'll find a peace in letting go. Holding onto our pain, our resentment etc...it's so tempting. It's so easy. It is ridiculously hard to let go. But if you truly want to...ask Him and He'll show you how.
This is about our relationship with God. Focusing on our circumstances...dwelling on the unfairness of things we don't quite understand, all these things inhibit closeness with our Father. They consume our minds and hearts so that there is not a whole lot of room left for God. But he wants us to rely on him alone. To find peace and contentment in Him alone. And he will help us there!
Lately I've been trying to put this into practice.
I've found that it is so easy to dwell on things that I don't understand, that don't seem fair to me. I know that God must have a plan, but because I can't see the big picture I am fighting emotional turmoils. By truly letting go and giving things to God...I am promising to put thoughts like these out of my mind. Not to just trust him through it...but to truly give it over to him and not worry about it.
In practice...easier said than done. But so possible.
I had a few strong days where I did not think about the things outside of my control that were hard. Then last night I found myself very discouraged. Praying, talking about it, nothing really helped, I was just low as the reality of things sunk in. It all seemed so unfair. And I had those emotions to deal with. The were surpressed to an extent but lingered well into today. I know that God knows my strength...and has trusted me with a sacrifice he knows I can handle and I will come out even stronger for having endured. And He is there reminding me. When He sees that I am trying hard He is there pushing me.
God is timely.
As I sat in Koinonia tonight there was a battle in my mind. I was struggling. Battling the urge to be upset or angry. Pushing it back...over and over. Again. Again. I feel like God sees and acknowledges that kind of effort. He knows how hard I am trying. He gave me just what I needed at that moment. A friend came up to me and asked me to pray with them. And even though I had talked to people the night before and been praying all day...this specific friend happened to be exactly what I needed right then.
Encouragment and prayer were given. And also I regained perspective as I prayed for him in return. I remembered my role in being an encouragement for him. I realized how important encouragement is. I reminded him his value in Christ. And because of that I remembered mine. And shortly there after a song came on entitled Fellowship So Deep. It said
We can feel his love among us; We can sing redemptions song
We can hear the Spirit call us to a place where we belong
For His joy is in our laughter and His comfort in our grief
Let His love here ever after be the language that we speak
Let us sing of our Redeemer and of His love that made us free
And know this gift is ours forever, a fellowship so deep
It was a timely reminder of my relationship with Him. It's a gift. It's not obligation. We choose to have it, and anyone can. It is vital. It is where we find true joy and comfort. And if we choose it, it is ours forever.
That relationship is far more valuable than anything I may desire. And it is a true source of joy and peace. It is difficult to be willing to focus on God and not myself. And it is not always easy to be willing to let go of everything in exchange for that depth of relationship with Him. At times this relationship feels hard...Because if I truly desire that depth with Him I have to be willing to make sacrifices. Sacrifice things that inhibit it. And though that may be difficult...the relationship with him should be an easy one. Comfortable. Peaceful.
It's funny how hard it is to choose peace when it's all you really want. But in many ways it is a choice. The only true peace comes from God.
I should probably be grateful...thankful...excited that God thinks enough of me to know I can handle trials. I know by making the choice to rely on Him I'm growing as a person and in relationship with Him. I'll come out of all of this strengthened and blessed.
By trusting Him for that outcome I'm choosing some temporary pain. (I'm accepting the challenge.) I could easily choose to be selfish and focus on myself and how unfair God is. But I suppose He knew that I'd choose the right thing no matter how hard...and because of that choice...the end result will be amazing.
:-) Choose joy and peace. No matter how hard it is. Value your relationship with Christ. Sacrifice self-centeredness to Him and just trust Him in faith. He will see your efforts and help you along the way, but attitude is so important. Choose Him.