July marks 10 YEARS since Jesus grabbed ahold of my heart and flipped my world upside down.
I thought it would be fitting to look back and pull together a few things that my weary heart has seen and learned through this journey. I'll be sharing 5 lessons the post and another 5 in a future post. There are thousands of things I have learned and unlearned, failed at, succeeded and learned again - but these are some of the biggies!
ALSO, THANK YOU to those of you who have been a model of Jesus in some way shape or form in these past 10 years and even before. God has used you to change my heart for eternity and in turn change the hearts of hundreds and hopefully thousands of others! I am forever grateful for you and God is honored and glorified by your work!
#1 ALL GRACE, ALL THE TIME.
I am becoming convinced that everything in life with Jesus is a gift. How do I know? Because I see my sinful heart more than anyone else will ever see it - and seeing it alongside the heaping pile of blessings and promises in my life prove to me that life with Jesus is an unending river of undeserved gifts - gifts that I never earned or deserved a part from Jesus. It can't be based on my works and efforts. Why? Because even when I wander off in disbelief and disobedience, I still do not lose the hundreds of blessings I have in my life. And, more importantly, my past failures do not stop God from continuing to give good gifts to me. It's CRAZY and certainly not of this world.
#2 HUMILITY = WINNING.
You can't close when you have humility. It allows you to maintain a posture of heart that always listens, always learns, always takes correction, always remains grateful and always keeps things in perspective. How do you work towards humility? I think it's more of a frame of mind than what we would like to admit. I can either think that the world is designed to revolve around me or I can see the world as it really was designed to be seen - a billion moving parts all moving to the command of Jesus. If this thing really isn't about me - than I am able to be freed to choose the lower position, to empty myself of my preferences and comforts for the sake of building up others. Humility is a lot like letting all the kids run to get the candy that is falling from the piñata before you do - not because you don't like candy - but because you have the genuine desire to lower yourself so that others can be lifted to experience greater joy! It's what Jesus did for us.
#3 PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR EMOTIONS.
I've always been taught that women are wired to be more in touch with their emotions than men. I have also seen many Godly teachers put so much of an emphasis on rationalizing and thinking that emotions were almost never brought up - treated almost like that crazy Uncle you try hard to forget you have. I have spent a large majority of my life ignoring my emotions; treating them as flares of a sinful heart that needed to be changed. It is just recently that God has been teaching me to see my emotions not as uncontrolled beasts but rather gauges used by the Spirit. This wasn't an easy lesson to learn. God opened my eyes by showing me the pain that I have caused others through my unmanaged frustration, depression, anxiety and anger. It makes sense now - God created the whole body and desires to use our mind AND emotions to speak to us. Ignoring emotions is like muting half the speakers - it will make it that much more difficult to hear the whole message clearly. Pay attention; God created those things to show you what is in your heart - not to condemn you, but to drive you towards Him and His goodness.
#4 SUFFERING WORKS FOR US.
Suffering works for us because God works in it. One of my favorite passages in the Bible says that "this light, momentary affliction is PREPARING for us an eternal weight of glory.." Because of God's goodness and power, even the most painful of affliction is being worked out for our good; preparing us for glory. How? From personal experience, suffering and hardships have stripped my comfort in this world, leaving me to find all my comfort and joy in Jesus. Trials are beautiful tools in the hands of a Sovereign King who has promised to do NOTHING but GOOD to His children. Instead of fighting it, escaping it or becoming bitter because of it - learn to see Jesus' purposes in it and trust that He is using hard things to accomplish good purposes that lead to infinite joy. But don't just take my word for it, read the life story of every person who claimed Jesus as King in the Scriptures, I think they will testify to the same thing :)
#5 LET YOUR KNOWING ALWAYS LEAD TO LOVING.
These 10 years have brought about a lot of learning; from countless sermons to hundreds of books to four years of Bible College - my head has more information than I know what to do with. One of the things that I struggled most with (and still battle) is making sure that what I am learning transfers into loving better. Isn't that the point? Paul says "..if I understand all mysteries and all knowledge...but have not love, I am nothing" (1 Cor. 13:2). Quoting Scripture isn't the end goal - loving people with truth, compassion, mercy, grace and patience is, the way Jesus does. If your knowing doesn't lead to loving - it probably means you aren't really getting to KNOW the one worth knowing, JESUS. I'm thankful that the Bible doesn't say "For God so loved the world that He studied the human race.." BUT rather "For God SO LOVED the world that He GAVE Jesus".