23 November, 2011

How Sweet the Sound

It’s late and I’m exploring the blog world feeling inspired to write-specifically from Lily’s blog (Check it out- http://wienerface5.blogspot.com/) Lily is a wonderful friend of mine who used to go to TA but moved to Florida.  To sum it up, she is going to change the world, and she is only a junior in high school!  If you want to believe that the Lord can transform someone, talk to Lily.  Reading her blog is always a reminder to me that there is HOPE!!! This also inspired me to just acknowledge people and thank them.  Why don’t I do that more? Honestly, I feel like such a sucky friend right now.  To my housemates, my friends at home, girls at TA, my teammates, my best friends at school-I’ve just sucked lately. Granted, I have mono (which I wish upon no one in life ever), and I’ve been swamped with work, but that is not an excuse…because I can’t get any of that lost time back, and I hate that. And when it comes down to it, relationships are what I care about. And for pretty much my whole life, they’re what I’ve been good at.  I’ve always known how to be a good friend.  But you know what? I can’t be a good friend on my own.  It has all finally caught up to me.  I can’t keep up with hundreds of relationships in my own strength and rely on my natural people skills to be a friend.  Instead of trying anymore, I’ve let myself be overwhelmed and pushed away from relationships that I care so deeply about.  Thank God there is redemption. I need it every day.  And I need it real bad right now.  I’ve never been so excited about the gift of grace because I hit a point where it’s all I’m banking on.  I’ve dug myself pretty deep in different places and I’m ready to allow Jesus to pull me out and shower me with his gifts.  I can’t wait to see where my friendships go from here.

This morning at BRV (my church at home which I adore so deeply) we sang “How He Loves” and though I’ve heard it tons of times before, the line “I don’t have time to maintain these regrets” really hit me.  I literally don’t have time to think about the areas I’ve failed in or to hold onto past sins.  If I dwell in all of my failures, I’m going to miss out on what God wants to show me now.  Even right now the Lord is gently reminding me of how much he loves me and delights in me.  I’m usually cautious about hearing from the Lord through people because I’m prone to getting caught up in the affirmation of others.  But right now God is using people to remind me of his love, whether it be undeserved encouraging text messages from sweet, sweet girls at TA or conversations with friends promising and proving that they won’t give up on me no matter what my actions portray.  Logan and Abby-two girls that understand the unconditional love of Jesus and are therefore able to share it with me when I need it.  That’s what the body of Christ is all about right?

I’ve been thinking a lot about community lately and what God intended for it to look like.  The best picture of community I’ve gotten all semester was when Rebecca, Colleen, and I sat in my bed and shared our lives with each other.  It is such an amazing thing that we can talk about the really sucky things about life and then encourage each other in the Lord.  It was incredible, but kinda sad that it’s the only real and pure form of community that I can remember from the semester, which I believe I have a huge part in myself.  The past few sermons I’ve heard at different church services have been pretty convicting for me when thinking about my part in a community.  We have been studying the Sermon on the Mount at Eastside, which is the church I go to at school, and a couple weeks ago we heard that God gives inherently good gifts that we should ask for.  If I actually lived out the words of Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount, imagine the good gifts I could give to others!  Just like we all seek and ask things from Jesus, what if we were the answer for each other.  If I went and loved people the way that Jesus tells me to on the Sermon on the Mount, I could be the answer for someone else.  And then suddenly, we become the body of Christ.  How beautiful is that?  Or what about Galatians 6:9-10? “9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”  What’s funny is that verse 9 is a verse I have clung to a whole lot since being in ministry, and the Lord has proven to be faithful.  But what happened to verse 10? ESPECIALLY to those who belong to the family of believers.  At BRV this past weekend my pastor spoke on Galatians 6.  He reminded us that it is so much fun to give! Something I always try to remind myself of is that it is in giving that we receive.  I got that from the Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

THIS is what the kingdom is about because it is what Jesus and the cross is all about! It is in dying that we are born to eternal life…(#thankful).  As Pastor Mark said, the kingdom is about giving, sharing, building each other up, and doing good to one another. Imagine what our friendships, families, communities, houses, and the world would look like if we all lived this out.  I know I'm terrible at this, but I want to do this forreal.  I want to do good to the family of believers above all else! Even if no one else is doing it, because it’s not about expecting to receive back.  What if Jesus expected back from us?  He died for us while we were still his enemies, so that we may have eternal life.  PTL for grace and redemption.

Another thing, all of which has been inspired from conversation with Rebecca...I don't think that seeking to console, understand, and love those who simply aren't doing the same for us is where it stops.  As Reb said, we are so quick to give our lives away when it is easy or even when there is no reward... but when someone spits backfire in your face...now THAT'S hard to give your life away.  WHY DO WE MAKE EXCUSES FOR NOT LOVING PEOPLE!?! Especially in the Christian community.  I literally hate the phrase "hard to love." What the heck does that even mean? Aren't we all "hard to love?" And you know what, maybe we don't put ourselves in those types of situations enough where people are throwing it all back in our face.  I respect people who are gonna do that.  We need them.  Jesus didn't just die for those who didn't believe in him or just don't want him.  He died for the people that were freaking nailing him to a cross!!  Think about the person who has hurt you the worst in your life-in the moment how painful it was or even still is now.  Jesus was hurt worse and STILL forgave! He is SO perfect.  As we have been learning at Eastside, we are most like Christ when we forgive, because forgiving is the hardest thing to do.  But my charge to myself and to you if you are a part of a community of believers: Find the people who are going to reject you and go against you and hurt you and annoy the crap out of you, and love them.

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