In my early teenage years, I had a personal, everyday encounter with what it meant to be a hypocrite. Someone close to me hurt me continually, verbally and emotionally, when I was with her, but then when out with her friends would be all syrupy sweet. It sickened me, and I resolved to be honest and genuine myself. I know it’s always easier to see someone else’s flaws over your own, so I make it a point to work on in myself whatever bothers me about others. I believe it was Gandhi that had the same idea: “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
I want to be genuine and honest in every aspect of my life, and that includes my blog. For the month of July, I wrote all my blog posts ahead of time and scheduled them to post. It allowed me to take a college test, spend a week with my grandparents (who don’t have wifi, which is why the sermon notes post from last week was late), and be much more spontaneous to serve at my church. I found that I really like that system and the freedom it allows, but I also found that I wasn’t as diligent about writing things down throughout this past month as they came to me, and it made it harder to process everyday events and emotions.
I’ve had accusations recently that I’m fake, and while I honestly believe that they are founded on lies and misunderstanding, I’ve still taken the opportunity to self-reflect and see if there are ways I can improve. I don’t want to add to the word God gives me to speak; the last thing I want is to dilute His words with mine. I know I am always inspired by raw vulnerability, and while it may be because it’s a personal mission of mine and I’m just attracted to it, I believe there is something inherently beautiful about people being open and honest with each other. I want that beautiful honesty to be a foundational, obvious attribute of this blog, so I knew this update was needed.
I’ve had times this past month where I’ve had four or five downloads from God per day, and times where I’ve wandered without pressing into seeking Him for days. Both are overwhelming, but one is overwhelming with joy and one with subtle, muddling confusion.
Let me zoom out a bit: for the past year or so, I’ve been on a journey of discovering that God is good. This is perhaps one of the most cliche things said in church today, and perhaps one of the least believed. After reading God is Good by Bill Johnson about this time last year, my mind has been blown and my spirit more active. I’ve also noticed a pattern of spiritual warfare hitting me on the anniversaries of recent breakthroughs, tempting me to believe that no progress has been made, and that everything I’ve learned isn’t true after all. Its temptation lies in the fact that a lot of things in the spirit realm are not “common sense” or “logical” in the natural, and if, even for a moment, you switch from being spirit-operated to flesh-operated, your “common sense” will make the case that you’re a lunatic.
This is not to imply that faith is losing your mind. In one sense, it is, but not in the sense that losing your mind makes you crazy, although it will to those who are still operating out of their minds (or in their minds, rather). No, faith may be losing your mind but it is gaining your spirit. I have learned more, seen more, believed more, experienced God more, heard more, understood more, and walked in the impossible more from being spirit-led than mind-led. It truly does make the impossible, possible, the illogical, logical, the unseen, seen, the unheard of, heard of, the unqualified, qualified, and the insecure, secure.
I’ve experienced more miracles than ever before and heard so much from God in the past year than ever before. With that, though, has come temptation time and again to doubt. To doubt God’s goodness even as I’m bookended by experiences of it, to doubt God’s faithfulness because of my own lack thereof. The attacks have come swiftly and intensely. I’ve had a lot of inner turmoil and conflicting thoughts. It has been really, really hard. To know God is good when one of your dear friends is on the brink of death. To know God is good when fear is suffocating you and anxiety screams in your ears. To know God is good when your character is slammed by those you’ve spent the past two years of your life intentionally loving. To know God is good when you are praying and believing for healing as your body screams and shakes in pain. To know God is good when you experience said healing and then it’s gone again. To know God is good EVEN IF. Many aspects of my life have been tested to find if I believe God is good here also.
I read a quote recently in my devotional that knocked me off my feet:
“Unless we can look the darkest, blackest fact full in the face without damaging God’s character, we do not yet know Him.” –Oswald Chambers
To truly believe God is good has taken a lot of unlearning, but it has opened my eyes also. To believe God is for me, not against me, has not forsaken me, is not hurting me, and does not cause pain in my life is a game-changer. Some of the facets of this concept went against things I’ve grown up learning and hearing in church, so it was a struggle to go into this journey of study with an open mind. When I did, the Bible began to light up, connect, and make sense to me. My perspective has been in the process of shifting, and continues to be. It isn’t easy but it has turned God from a religion into a relationship for me.
A friend of mine sent me a verse this past week, and I saw it in a whole new light.
“The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.”
I’ve always seen this verse as meaning that no matter what I try to do or how hard I try to do it, God’s gonna mess it up and make me do what He wants me to do, whether I want to do it or not. That God was against my plans and I was foolish to think that they would ever work.
With the purposeful perspective shift of “God is good, and He is good to me” in place, this verse reads completely differently. It says that we plan a general direction, and the Lord leads us in the steps necessary to make it come to pass. He helps us and guides us. He is for us and on our team.
The Bible reads in a completely different way when you read it believing God is good.
And that’s an understatement.
This past week has been a week of life. It has included celebration, ending, new beginnings, lots of tears, prayers, old friends, pain, disappointment, hope, determination, defeat, victory, spontaneous decisions, discoveries, joy, amazement, hopelessness, and more. It’s the furthest thing from easy.
As I write this, my body feels miserable even as my spirit is encouraged by the words I’m writing.
Our feelings aren’t always truth. They don’t have to dictate what we believe or what we do. So yes, this month has been full of its ups and downs, and right now is kind of a down. But that just means an up is coming. It’s been a moment-by-moment action to declare to God, “You came, You’re beautiful, You’re good, and I love You“. I say “action” because passivity is breeding grounds for doubt. Our belief in the character of God must be an active thing.
I wondered this week how different things would be if Christians believed in God.
How would the church and the world change if we got to know God and how good He is? The more we get to know God, the more we get to know ourselves, because He made us and He reveals things we have allowed into our lives that hinder us from reflecting God well. Children should look like their parents, so we should look like God in this world. We look like who we believe God is, and for a lot of people that means uncaring, hypocritical, and judgmental, whether they’ve realized that themselves or not.
So yes, this is a journey. A journey of learning who God is and who I am. It’s rough terrain but it doesn’t matter so much when you’re being held. I encourage you all to ask God who He is and get to know Him better. If I had to bet, I’d bet you’d find that He’s not like most “Christians” you know.
(Thanks for sticking through and reading all this. I know it was longer than usual.)
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