Short, Sweet, and to the Point… Or Something Like That

I’m supposed to be studying for finals, but this has been bothering my for almost a week now so I feel the need to do something about it. Also, thank you (the 2, maybe 3 of you) for allowing me to use this (and you by extension) as a means of confession. I hear it’s good for the soul, so that’s what you’re about to get.

Last weekend at Caswell, there were over 100 youth grades 6 through 12 there for an amazing weekend to grow closer together and learn more about themselves, each other, and God. I had a group of 9th and 10th graders who were sweet kids. One of our lessons was on “Whatever is Pure” using the theme verse for the week of Philippians 4:8. We talked about it more from the stand point of why it’s important to live a pure life, and why it’s important to rid yourself (to the best of your ability) of the things that keep you from God. From the beginning I didn’t want to plan this lesson because frankly I didn’t want to talk about it. I didn’t want to tell them things that I know are hard, and that I can’t even do myself. But I pushed those thoughts out of my head and planned my lessons, and went on with the weekend. Which was a great weekend.

However, from that weekend I’ve had this annoying thought running through my head since then. I’ve been more aware of it, people have mentioned it, I’ve heard it in music, had Bible verses running through my head. You name it, it’s happened. This is nothing earth shattering, or   grand revelation, just something I think I’m ready to admit and fix.

I am a prideful person. There is not one humble bone in my body. If you actually know me, this is nothing new and you’re probably thinking “well duh” and yes I know I have pride, but I’m just now willing to be like “hey, this is probably an issue I should deal with” I’m not sure where it comes from honestly. I think I use pride as a mask because deep down, I’m not sure I believe it when I say things 90% of the time. Like, I have a big bark, but my bite is pretty much non existent. If that makes sense.

I’m not sure where the pride comes from, but it definitely needs to go somewhere. I know through the Bible it talks about pride being a sin, and I know that, but I’m not sure how to make it stop or make it go somewhere.

So anyways, that’s my short and sweet thought. Prayers as I figure out how to approach this with God and that He walks me through it.

-S

More Than Words

I hate when I can’t put my feelings into words. As someone who loves words, this is one of the most frustrating things in the world. To have feelings and emotions and not be able to express them is so difficult and I feel like I’m bottling everything up, when in reality I’m trying to let it out. Last night was my last night at Baptist Student Union as an undergraduate and as a member of council. Since it was the last night, our campus minister recognized the senior (me) and installed our new council. For me, this was such an emotional night and I thought I had prepared myself for it, however I was more humbled by that experience than anything else I have done in my life.

            If you have never been part of a prayer service with the laying of hands, I encourage you to experience it from both the aspect of the praying for someone and being the one being prayed for. This was the first time I had not been praying for someone, but I was the one being prayed for. I have never been more humbled by an experience in my life. To hear people ask God for His provisions in my life, to protect me, to guide me in my future, to be with me as I start the next phase of my life. There were freshman who I’ve only known a few months that I have impacted. None of this is to “toot my own horn” or anything to that effect, but for me to see that actions are important. It was humbling to be prayed for, to be the one lifted up instead of being the one lifting up someone else. It was encouraging to hear friends both new and old ask God for His protection and His guidance as I start Divinity School. To hear friends I have only known a month or so say that I had impacted their lives, and that I had been a rock for dear friends in times when they needed someone. Things I had never realized I was doing that other people were noticing. It also makes me stop and think how often someone saw my actions and thought “I thought she was a Christian, I guess not.” That thought makes me incredibly sad.

            I am overwhelmed with the amount of love I was given last night. It validates why I love BSU and why I believe in who they are and what they represent. BSU is one of the “bigger” campus ministry names on campus but it is small in terms of numbers, and I love that about BSU. It’s one of the things that draws kids to it. There’s close, intimate worship. There’s people who genuinely care about each and every person who is there. I stuck with BSU because they engaged me; they noticed when I wasn’t there. The speakers spoke, but they also encouraged and challenged and lifted up, and convicted when they didn’t even know what they were doing. Through BSU I learned what true worship looked like. I learned that it was okay to lift your hands if that’s what God leads you to do during worship. If he brings you to tears, to sit down, to lift your hands, to anything. It’s okay. Because it’s worship, and it’s beautiful. That’s beautiful. That’s campus ministry. That’s what all ministries should be. Engaging those who are there and helping them meet Jesus and worship Him. To bring people together to worship together and grow closer both to one another and to God. BSU has it right, I wish more churches, and ministries would.

            Without BSU I would not be who I am or where I am today. I can say in full confidence that I would not be about to graduate from Campbell and starting Divinity School in the fall. God has used campus ministries in my life more than anyone could ever possibly realize. From bringing me my friends to showing me His plan for my life. There are no words to express my gratitude to Christ for everything.

To Remember

Go ahead and break out the Bible because I’m pretty much going from there tonight. Read through Lamentations 3. I don’t know about you, but this is easily my favorite chapter in the entire Bible. Which is weird, I know. Judge me if you must, but if you do, you have to read my logic.

As a history major, I love that this (all of Lamentations) is Jeremiahs writing on the fall of Jerusalem. This was such a significant point in the life of the city, the Jews, and of Christianity. So to me, that is of note. What I also find interesting, is that Chapter 3 is the exact middle of the book. The entirety of the book is a lament (hence the title, talk about clever). To lament is a “passionate expression of grief” or to “mourn”. So this is sad. Think about it, Jeremiah has just watched his city be destroyed brick by brick. There is nothing left. So it is understandable, and even justified that he be angry with God. But, almost in the middle of Chapter 3, you find hope. If you look at verses 21 – 24, we see a glimmer of hope in what seems to be a desolate situation for Jeremiah. Now do you see why I love it?

Jeremiah says “Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”

In the middle of death, destruction, despair, hopelessness, Jeremiah is reminded of God’s love and how unfailing that love is.

In verses 31 – 33 he says: “For no one is cast off by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to anyone.”

He knows that sometimes bad things are going to happen, but he also knows that God’s love is unfailing. How beautiful is that?

Now, no matter how dramatic I am sometimes, I know good and well that my life is no where the same level as the destruction of Jerusalem. I may act like it on occasion, but neither Wilmington, nor Buies Creek have suddenly been destroyed so I can’t even pretend to know what Jeremiah was feeling as he was writing this. But I do know what it’s like to feel completely lost in what I think is the depths of despair. I know how it feels to be less than 5 weeks away from graduation with no job, no place to live, no money for grad. school, and nothing definite other than I’m graduating. I bet Jeremiah doesn’t know how terrifying that is. Homie needs to get on my level. But for real. To say that I am absolutely terrified, petrified, scared, whatever other word you want to use, is a complete understatement. I am so afraid of what is going to happen that if I let myself think about it too much, I’ll never make it. I sometimes feel like my world is going to come crashing around me and I have no idea what to do about it. But look at Jeremiah. His city was destroyed and he managed to remember who God was and what He had promised. In the middle of Jerusalem crumbling to the ground Jeremiah was able to say “God’s love is unfailing” “He is always faithful” “God is good to those whose hope is in Him” “He is compassionate”

How is it that Jeremiah is capable of remembering that when his city, his home has literally been destroyed? Yet I can’t remember it when I don’t have a job yet. Jeremiah was able to remember it because he had seen it happen. He had seen God come through in the clutch time and time again. I’ve seen God come through time and time again, yet I don’t have that kind of faith. I want to be like Jeremiah. Lord, help me have the faith of Jeremiah. If he can remember God faithfulness when his city has just been destroyed, then I can trust in God’s faithfulness to see me through this transition period in my life.

So my prayer, is that if you’re struggling or you’re scared about a transition period in your life or unsure of what the future holds, is that you can find some comfort in Lamentations 3. In the middle of a book, that is all about despair, there is hope. In the middle of the crumbling of Jerusalem, Jeremiah found hope in his Eternal Savior.I pray, in the middle of your life, you see the hand of God, protecting you, loving you, and being faithful, like He always has been, and always will be.

-S

People, Time, and Presence.

Sometimes I look at my life and think “I am SO glad You know what You’re doing God” I think it is so… like Him to take away/put in the people we need. I look at my life last semester. He took away people that at the time, I felt I needed. When my life went to pieces, He put those people in my path that I needed in order to not go insane. He took away the people I thought I needed to get through it, but in reality they wouldn’t have been helpful. He took away people that were going to make it worse, instead of help make it better. I look over things that have happened, good and bad and think “now I see why this person was here” or “this is why this person wasn’t here” I can name the people who were there for me when my grandma died just over a year ago. I can tell you the people who constantly checked on me to see how I was, or was with my family during that time. I can tell you the people who came up to the hospital, or the friends that would come get (actually decent) coffee with me in the cafe of the hospital. They knew that it wasn’t about what they could send, or what they could bring, but it was about being there. Their time and their presence. That’s what’s important.

On Friday’s at the gym, I work with 2 girls. One is a junior and she is an absolute sweetheart. She is so soft spoken, and so sweet. The other girl is a freshman from Wilmington. She is so funny, and always cheerful. I look forward to Friday’s and working with them. The first girl I work with, every Friday over Lent she would ask me “How’s your 1 cup of caffeine a day going?” Every week. She has a million other things to think about, yet she remembers on Friday to ask me how I’m doing. It may sound silly, but it helped hold me accountable. I had told her when it started it was a lifestyle I wanted to maintain, if not 1 cup a day, then definitely not the amount I had been drinking. So today, when I was working with her, she asked “how’s the caffeine thing going?” and I was honest in my response. It’s not going as well as I would like, ideally, but it’s going well and I’m not drinking near as much, so I was happy. She smiled and said “Good, I’m glad it’s something you’re still doing. You did so great over Lent, but I know you can keep it up” Can you say encouraging?! So, thank you God, for placing her in my life to encourage me.

So I guess this is my way of saying “thank you” to God for once again, working and moving even when I don’t see him. He knows what I need, and the people I need around to be who I am supposed to be. Even when I don’t understand why someone comes into the picture, or leaves the picture. They’re there for a reason. I should probably start realizing that in the moment instead of after the fact.

-S