Growing Pains

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. 

1 Timothy 4:12

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice. 

Proverbs 12:15

 

  1. Know that I should be doing homework.
  2. Know that as a grad student I should always be doing homework.

But this blog post has been waiting in my drafts long enough. Early August in fact, 3/4 of the way through my internship, facing an upcoming season of uncertainties and uncharted territories.

Nearing what I believe is the end of that period and entering a new, yet to be charted season, I can feel the inner conflict beginning to stir.

Turmoil that, when left unchecked, is known to make my battle ready self hesitate.

It is not that I fear God failing. No, I believe in him 100% of the time.

But I have struggled with believing in myself.

I have struggled to believe that I can communicate, discern and complete those tasks in front of me. Oftentimes I am self-convinced that I am getting the message wrong and surely God has called someone much more… much?

In today’s world this struggle is a genuine one. The world we live in is hardly encouraging most of the time. And if we are not tuned into what God is saying and what he has said, then who are we listening to?

No matter where you are in life or what career field you are working in, there will always be “the voices” in “the moments.”

While I hope you are not familiar with the voices or the moments, living in this world is an unfortunate guarantee that you are more familiar with them than most of us would like to admit.

You know the ones where you are “too young,” “too old,” “too conservative,” “too liberal,” “too educated,” “too naive”… and all the other “toos” that make you unable to understand. Your answer is wrong. It’s not your fault, you are just “too much” or “too little” and that is too bad.

And in these moments, in early August, amid all the voices, I found I really missed my mom.

In these moments a part of me wishes I would have grown up faster. That I would have grown up more gracefully, gliding past the obstacles and never missing a step.

Unfortunately I was one often caught between hard places, getting back up with scrapped knees and bloody knuckles. Generally walking away with a hard earned and learned lesson accompanied with a loving, motherly, “keep going.”

Mom was a great director on walking the line between “do not let them undermine you” yet “listen to wise counsel.”

So here I am, walking the line, and it is getting slimmer. Its one of those moments where the enemy has gotten a hold of one of the ends of the line, turning it into a tightrope and has begun shaking it. You’re not sure if you’ll be able to remain upright, let alone move forward without losing your balance.

And so I spent some time laying my case out to one who has all the time in the world- eternity in fact. My fragile and fear disposed heart repeating that I believed in Him, but… but… me, the me part of the plan was questionable.

God haven’t you heard? I am not ready. I am not qualified. I am too much this and not enough that.

And in those moments that still small voice whispered- but I believe in you.

I believe in you.

I created you. Who knows better what you are capable of? And remember- you are not going in alone. I will be there. And you said yourself, you believe in Me.

True.

So repeat the problem?

And the tightrope stopped shaking. Because in that moment I handed the end back to God- and stopped jumping up and down on it as I was placed back on solid ground.

I remembered that He is before and behind me. Above and Below me. Even should I fall, He is already there. My own worst enemy had been myself, and the enemy’s doubts I had adopted as my own.

And in that space, on that grounded line, I found it.

Humble Confidence.

A graceful clumsiness. Somedays you will fall. Others you will dance. But everyday you will be fearless.

Because should all else fall away you know your Strong Tower is always before, behind, above and below you. There’s no direction you can fall that he won’t be there to catch you.

As if He wasn’t enough, He has also provided family and friends along the way to encourage us and be lights in an otherwise darkened world.

People who are always behind you, some of who you will meet going forward and others who are watching the ground below you from above.

I know beliefs differ, and I do not have the ultimate answer (I am still in Bible college and God has not granted me a vision or revelation that has been withheld from others until now- not that I haven’t asked), however I highly suspect that loved ones can see us from above. At least to an extent. (I generally reference the story Jesus shares in Luke 16:19-31 of Lazarus and the Rich Man and personal experience).

With that said I also fully believe that our loved ones who have passed into Jesus’ presence are in a place with no sorrow, no tears or hurting and pain of any kind. They are in the best of places, praising our savior and rejoicing.

As much as I miss my mom, my best friend, my grandfather, my aunt and several others; I wouldn’t want them to be in that perfect place missing being here. And I know if my mom (or any of them) recalled the pain our temporary separation caused this side of Heaven, her heart would break.

So I have this hope that should my belief be correct and that they are able to look down at times, there is what I have coined as an “eternity filter.”

A filter that when my mom looks down its through the light of eternity, a light that erases the darkness of this world. While she sees us in the good and bad, she knows that the bad will not endure and the good is not even remotely close to the best. And that we have all the time in world, for one day- there will be no more goodbyes and no more ends.

On this side we see through a “world filter,” its dark and broken. Things are hard and you never fully feel like you have made the mark. There are days when the time inches by and others where it feels as if it flew in the blink of an eye.

Further evidence we are just journeying through this world. Our hearts can never fully fit into this world’s concept of “time,” for He has placed eternity in our hearts.

So lesson learned this season:

Growing up is never a task fully accomplished on this side of heaven. Growing pains mark growth, not completion.

In the moments where the growth is hard come by remember you have a Creator, His host of angels and His saints, who count it a hard earned and won Victory.

So fellow Saints, put on your Armor and remember no victory is too small and certainly no matter how beat up and bruised you may emerge, every one is worth celebrating. Moses didn’t think he could lead the Israelites out of Egypt. Peter was uneducated. David and Mary were teenagers. Abraham and Elizabeth were old.

The reality is that you don’t have this. But God does and He’s called you.

And as the prophets and the early church leaders prayed, so we pray, to continue to grow in the knowledge of God, bearing fruit of every good work. No longer seeing this world through it’s broken and twisted filter, but through the filter of eternity to which we have been called.

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Thank James Pond on Unsplash for photo.

Indivisible

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

John 17:20-23

 

Abraham Lincoln pleaded for it, Helen Keller proposed it and J.K. Rowling wrote about it. Gandhi believed in it, Henry Ford franchised it and Martin Luther King Jr. fought for it.

And Jesus, Jesus prayed for it.

Unity.

It is not something that many of us generally take into consideration but is absolutely essential in every relationship we have. Let alone in our general heart-ittude towards humanity.

Think about it- take a moment- what would you pray for if you knew it’d be your last prayer? At least your last prayer before everything fell apart. Possibly your last prayer on this side of heaven.

What would you pray for?

What do you think Jesus would pray for?

I can honestly confess when this question was first posed to me, my initial guess was wrong. And the answer hit my heart hard. Because while I may have been striving to love and serve and lead a life I felt fit in the guidelines- I could not recall ever taking unity specifically into consideration. I suppose I always assumed it was a byproduct of all the other things. Surely it would follow when I acted on those other principles.

I had never connected the dots that it was literally Jesus’ last prayer before he was arrested. He had fallen on the ground distraught not hours earlier, pleading with his Father, begging for his life; but not my will – let yours be done.

However that moment before it all began, before that hellacious day took place in order to achieve a heavenly victory Jesus didn’t pray for further strength. Although his eyes were probably still red from his earlier desperation, he didn’t call down the legion of angels on stand by. No concern on his own behalf passed his lips.

Unity.

Thanks to John we know the who, what and why in Jesus last prayer with his disciples.

Jesus prayed for believers then and believers to come.

          “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one”

He prayed for their unity.

“-so that they may be brought to complete unity”

So that all would know they are loved.

                “Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

His greatest concern, his final plea to heaven – was for you and for me and for every believer to live in unity. To never feel alone. To know that they were loved. To know that they had a family always by their side and continuously on call. Highs and lows. Thick and thin.

And you want to know what made my heart practically stop?

What was it about this prayer that could be anymore astounding than it already was?

The revelation- that Jesus prayed this prayer, that he pleaded in full faith to the Father, that we would never feel alone….

Moments before he would experience the greatest depth of loneliness and desertion ever to be felt.

His friends would flee.

Every advocate would hide.

And His Father would turn away.

Wrecked.

As we celebrate Memorial Day and remember those who have given it all for all that we enjoy in the United States of America. As we remember those who believed in the good in this world and believed it was worth fighting for, even if the cost was their life- I hope we can all lean in a little closer.

Every year the division in our nation seems to be escalating. And as Lincoln stated, a house divided cannot stand. Aside from arguing, hurt feelings and high emotions not much is accomplished. Apart from the name calling and finger pointing we’ve spent more time in congressional “time outs” than in investing and supporting one another.

The point of this post is not to say who is right and who is wrong. I am not calling one out over the other. I am calling us together. My prayer is that of Jesus all those years ago.

Because those men and women didn’t fight for one over the other, they fought and fight for all. Basic human rights endowed by our creator.

Indivisible under God.

This Memorial Day lets redirect and realign, remembering those things which truly matter.