2017: Experiencing God

2017 was a whirlwind year full of a lot of change. There were times when I was depressed, joyful, hurting, excited, hopeless, hopeful, etc. However, I don’t want to write about those emotions necessarily. Currently, I am in a discipleship with Greg and he always has this famous question: “Where is the Lord at in this?” It’s a great question that anyone should ask their friends or consider for themselves. So often we go through everything in life and all we can think about is the here and now. Everything is about me. The “big picture” is simply out-of-sight. God is out-of-sight.

For example, perhaps someone is in dire need of a job but cannot seem to lock one down. They might ask, “What’s wrong with me? Should I give up? I’m just a terrible interviewer.” The question should be asked, “Where is God at, in getting this job? What is He trying to show me? Is God trying to work on my character in some way?” Maybe you are having a tough time in a relationship and things just aren’t working. It’s very easy to just think about you and the other person. Nothing else matters. How can we fix this? How can we make things right? The better question would be: How is God working in our relationship? Is he even working in this relationship? What is God teaching me in this relationship?

When Greg asked me the question, it started to make me think more about God and how his hand is active in my life. It helps you understand God’s true character. Sometimes when people say they don’t want to follow the Lord, some will say “it’s just too hard”. Perhaps they feel that God is cruel or doesn’t care. This is a sign that they are unaware, or have forgotten God’s character.

I want to share just a few of the things the Lord has shown me this past year regarding his character. Of course these are things I have to still remind myself of all the time. I’m in no way a master of God’s character now or something. But if you are reading this, I want to encourage you to think about God’s character.

God loves failures.

I hate failing. I’m a control-freak-perfectionist and when I screw-up, I get angry at myself. God has shown me that failure is okay; multiple times this year. God has been working with failures since Adam and Eve. Why am I any different? One of Satan’s biggest lies is that God won’t use failures. Failures are useless. It’s so untrue. Look at pillars of the Bible like Paul and David. We all know both of these dudes were major screw-ups. Yet, the Lord used them in powerful ways!

Psalm 40:2-3 “He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord.”

That’s what he does. My good bro Adam E commented recently on an Instagram post of mine mentioning “The ministry of brokenness”. That has a far more relatable ring to it than “The ministry of perfection” does it not? The Lord wants us to be okay with failure and come to Him when we fail so that he can show us His power.

2 Corinthians 12:9 “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

Can you look at your failures with a smile and praise God for how he worked through it? Can you be okay with your imperfections so that God’s power can work? Do you look at failure with shame and self-loathing? Where is God at in your failure?

God is the only one worth worshiping.

We as humans put stock in so much on this earth that will, in the end, fail us. Whether it be a career, school, a spouse, a romantic relationship, a friendship, you name it. We all have our idols. For many years I thought that my idols and God could coexist just fine. In my own head, it worked. The Lord made it explicitly clear this past year, that it doesn’t work. It was a very difficult thing to accept at times.  Regardless, we cannot deny the fact that these things we idolize just don’t deserve the same worship God does.

I love Job 38-41 as it has a very long rhetorical interview between God and Job. I encourage you to read it. It’s quite funny actually. In essence, God lays out his resume and Job barely knows what to say. It’s funny when we try to tell God, that he’s wrong or that we know what’s best. We might not say it outright, but when we have an idol, we are essentially saying, “this will fulfill me more than you Lord.”

Have our idols created the heavens and the earth with words? Have our idols resurrected from the dead? Are idols free from imperfections? Can our idols care for nearly 7.5 billion people at the same time? Do idols remain the same overtime? The answer is no.

James 1:17 “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

God is graciously patient.

I get pissed when someone doesn’t move at a green light a few seconds after it has turned green. I give them the good ol’ “bipp”. It’s a beep that’s not quite a beep because beeps are rude in America. Just a friendly “bipp”. Something I’ve seen with God this past year is how freakin’ patient and gracious he is with people regardless of what the situation is.

It’s so easy to put God on the back-burner sometimes. We start dealing with things coming our way, and don’t even give God a thought longer than 30 seconds. If a friend doesn’t talk to you for a while because they are selfish, it hurts. I think to myself, “What happened to our friendship? What’s their problem?!”. When we pull that on God, he says, “It’s cool. I’ll wait for you. I want to give you good things. So whenever you want good things too, just let me know.”

God really showed His patience and grace in my life this past year. He gave me a fresh start in multiple ways. I hurt some people and screwed-up quite frequently. Still do! On the other side of that, I’ve experienced so much forgiveness from people I’ve wronged. I know God’s at work there. I’ve experienced grace to levels I don’t feel like I have before. Raw-undeserved grace. Something I’d like to mention is the home church switch that occurred early last year. Coming into Smash, I was under the impression this would be a temporary move so that I could “get my shit together”. While some of that is true, it is just the start of what was one of the coolest gifts in my life.

About 9 months in, working in Smash has been life-changing. I can clearly see how masterful the Lord is. He put people in my life who are different. He put challenges in my life that I’ve never had to face. He gave me MORE relationships with new people that I love and cherish. He has shown me the power of prayer time and time again. The list goes on. I love Smash and it’s my home church now. If the Lord wills it, I’d love to be in Smash for a long time….until we split again of course!

I know many others who have experienced this type of grace this past year also. It’s just really sweet to see that happening.

2 Peter 3:9The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

Anyways, here’s to a fruitful, growth filled, failure filled, and grace filled 2018!!!

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