So Many Questions

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PytP9XPhP1g

This is the song Joseph’s Lullaby by MercyMe. I never really thought about this until I heard the song last night, but I honestly have to wonder, what were Mary and Joseph thinking through all of this? We have no real indication of their thoughts or words to one another in regards to this situation. From my understanding, Mary was around 14 and Joseph was in his 30s. They were set to be married so that part isn’t uncommon, but then his wife is suddenly pregnant with the Messiah. You have to wonder what her parents thought and what Joseph thought. They were Jews, so they knew the Davidic Covenant, but did they really buy into it? What about Mary’s parents? If my 14 year old daughter said that to me, there is no way I would believe her no matter how honest and sweet of a child she had been up to that point in her life.

It is so hard for me to wrap my head around that night in Bethlehem. In this quite, crossroads town, probably no bigger than my beloved Buies Creek, the Saviour of the world was born the same way as you and I were. Let that sink in for a second. The newborn who would grow into the Healer, Teacher, Master, Friend, Saviour, Redeemer, and Protector was born just like me. From a mother in pain and into the world. Did he know who he was? Or did God shield him from his greatness? Was he born with the knowledge of who he was and what he would do? Or was he allowed the innocence that you and I are granted at infancy? You have to wonder what Mary and Joseph were thinking during these moments? If they believed their son was who God said he was, did they pray differently for him than our parents pray for us? Did they feel the need to pray for him at all? I mean, he is Jesus. Do we need to pray for Jesus? I would probably be incredibly selfish with my prayers and pray for my ability to raise the Messiah. Did they actually realize the weight of their calling? To be the earthly parents of the son of God. Or did they even think of all of that in the first moments of his life. Did they even entertain his immortality? Or did they simply put all of that aside for just a few moments to enjoy and love their son. Their precious gift from God. I’m not sure I could put all my questions aside, but I would hope that Mary and Joseph were able to stop amid their questions, and fears and enjoy their child.

Which I guess is a lesson we can learn even today. During this busy season of shopping, parties, events, family time, recovering from exams, maybe even our many questions; I hope you take time during this holiday season to just sit and enjoy the presence of Christ. It may seem in our world that he is hard to see or hard to hear but if you put everything else away for just a moment, it’s really not that hard. Take time this season to sit and remember who Christ is, who he was, and who he promises to be. Whether in the form of an infant, toddler, teenager, or adult; Christ is who he said he is yesterday, today, and tomorrow. I encourage you, more than ever, to sit in his presence and remember the miracle that was the human birth of Jesus Christ.

 

-S

Advertisements

Everything to Say, Nothing to Say

I meant to do a much better job of keeping up with this, promise I did. Can we talk about how it’s halfway through November? Crazy. Anyways.

Summer came and went, fall came and is almost gone, and we’re heading into the holiday season. Catherine moved out in August, Brooke moved in, and we fell into a hectic pattern of crossing paths once a day, and catching up at soccer games and on weekends. So far I’m not failing any classes, but divinity school has drastically changed the way I look at life, education, and the world around me. I think more than I ever have in the past, I am more exhausted than I have ever been before, and even with as busy as I was in undergrad, I’ve never been more overwhelmed before.

I resigned from the church, and today is actually my first Sunday not being there. They’re on their way back from Caswell today, and I pray it went well. Telling the youth I wasn’t coming back was one of the most un-fun things I’ve ever done in my life, but I know it was important if I’m going to do this whole divinity school thing properly.

I have so much to say about this year so far, yet I can’t seem to find words to go with any of it. It’s like, this entire year (from August to now) has left me completely and totally speechless, and I have no idea what to say or think about it. I’ve tried to put words behind what I’m thinking or feeling, but nothing. I just had a ladybug come in my house… I digress.

I feel like the next 3.5 years of my life are going to be interesting. I have so many plans and dreams, but I know at an instant God can say “nope, you’re doing this” and that’ll be that. Which is kind of scary to think about, but kind of exciting at the same time. I’ve also stopped writing 3 or 4 different times thinking the words would come to me, not so much.

Now that I have a smudge more free time, maybe you’ll hear from me more. But if not, know that I’m busy tucked away in the library, working on papers and Hebrew, studying away, and you’ll hear from me during Christmas.

 

-S

It’s the Start of Something New

High School Musical anyone? Right. Anyways, it is the start of something new. At least in my life.

Summer is almost half over which is super hard for me to believe in and of itself. I mean, it’s the middle of July. For real, not even kidding. It’s crazy. anyways, the new thing in my life: I’m officially a youth pastor. As of officially last night, I am in charge or middle and high schoolers. How weird is that?! I forget that I’m the official adult in charge. Last night it was just me and one other adult, and I was officially in charge. Super odd.

I am really excited about everything changing, and moving on towards adulthood, but I am also super scared about it. I think it would be dumb not to be. But at the same time I am really excited about it all. I have at ton of ideas I want to make sure we accomplish, but I also want to make sure I don’t over do any part of it. Burn out is good for no one.

I’m excited for what the rest of the summer holds. I’m excited for what the  school year holds. All 45hours of work and 9hours of graduate school. It’ll be a lot, but it’ll be tons of fun.

-S

“It isn’t Narnia, you know”

“No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t do it myself. Then he came towards me. It sort of hurt, but… it was a good pain. You know, like when you pull a thorn from your foot.” – Eustace (Prince Caspian and the Voyage of the Dawn Treader)

          For as long as I can remember, The Chronicles of Narnia have always been my favourite books and movies. There have been others that I’ve enjoyed immensely, but nothing has ever stuck with my quite like Narnia. C.S. Lewis is a brilliant writer and has a way with words that I could only dream of having. I have favourite lines from each of the books, but this one from the newer movies is quite possible my absolute favourite of all time. It’s right after Aslan changes Eustace (the Pevensies cousin) back into a boy from a dragon. Lucy (The Valiant, and youngest daughter of Eve) is asking him what it felt like, and the above quote is his response.

Up until this point Eustace is an annoying, self entitled, know it all, brat who thinks he is too good to be on the Dawn Treader with this lot, and doesn’t believe in Aslan. While the crew is setting up camp, Eustace goes off on his own, discovering a cave of treasure. The greed gets the better of him and turns him into a dragon. The symbolism of Eustace being turned into a dragon is great in and of itself. Throughout time dragons have been the image of greed and hoarding, so it comes as no surprise that Lewis chose to use a dragon to convey his point. However the language in which Eustace describes his first encounter with Lewis is bone chilling and such a true representation of our walk with Christ.

If we are truly honest with ourselves for once, we will admit that we are a) not perfect b) constant sinners and c) perpetually in need of Gods grace over our lives. No matter how hard we try, or what we like to think, we cannot be better people by our own accords. It’s simply not possible. We can try, and try, and try, but no matter how hard we try, we will fail. We are imperfect creatures, living in an imperfect world, serving a perfect God. Of course we can’t do it on our own. However, when we allow Him to draw near to us we see His power and His strength is enough to overpower anything we’ve brought on ourselves. Just as Eustace couldn’t get the bracelet off himself in order to become a boy again, we cannot undo the sin we’ve done to make us better people. We have to allow God to draw near to us, and lift us out of our sin. When we do that, it’s going to hurt. Nowhere in the Bible does God tell us that following Him, allowing Him to make us better people, would be an easy and pain free task. But He did promise that it would be worth it. That the pain we felt would be temporary and not permanent.

Just as Aslan didn’t come for Lucy, Edmund, and Prince Caspian in Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Christ didn’t come to help those who already believed in Him (although just like Aslan, Christ does help those). Christ came to help those who didn’t know Him, who needed Him, those who were looked down upon and cast aside by society. Eustace didn’t know Aslan and didn’t believe in Him that is who Aslan came to help. Those who don’t know Christ and don’t believe in Christ, that is why He came. That is why He is always here with us, guiding us, so that through us, His name might be made known.

 

-S

Tomorrow Starts the Rest of Your Life… A Few Weeks Late

So let’s start from the very beginning:

Graduation came and went on the weekend of May 11th. The Friday night before my graduation, I went to the Divinity School graduation to see some friend graduate. Tyler graduated which was probably the saddest thing of all. He has been a dear friend during my time at Campbell and it seems weird to think of this place without him next year. I’m excited for where life is taking him, but I am sad to see him go. Thankfully, his girlfriend is still in school, so he’ll still be around a bit. My summer roommate, Catherine, also graduated that Friday night which was incredibly exciting. She is still working on campus, but is looking for a legitimate job somewhere in Raleigh starting in the fall. Living with Catherine has been vastly different than living with Kendele and Brooke, but not bad.

I moved into my new townhouse, and started working at the Pharmacy School the week after graduation and it was a complete and total whirlwind. Thankfully I was able to crash with my friend Jessica for a few days before I moved into the townhouse so I wasn’t entirely homeless.

I’ll start working at Benson Baptist soon, provided their deacons approve to take it to the congregation for a vote. It’s been a slow process, but I am so excited for the prospect of working with the youth at the church. I’ve met them once, but they are absolutely wonderful kids and have massive personalities so it’ll be a lot of fun.

I can’t believe I’ve been graduated from college for a month, to the day (in an hour or so). It is completely mind boggling to me. I am so thankful for how the entire last month has panned out. I’ve also been painfully conscious of how I haven’t done anything remotely related to my relationship with Christ. I am the epitome of “if everything’s good, why talk to him” and I hate that about me. I want to fix it, I’m going to fix it. Starting tonight as soon as I click “publish” it’s on to my Beth Moore book.

So yeah, a brief wrap up of life as a college graduate so far. It’s been amazing, everyday I’m reminded of how much God loves me and how much he has given me. Even if I wanted to complain, I really couldn’t because it would be absolutely insane of me. I love my life, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

 

-S

Grace, Only Grace. Can Move Us to a Rhythm that will Change Our Ways

There’s a show I watch called Skins. It’s a British tv show, that to be completely honest is the trashiest thing I’ve ever watched. But I love the character dynamics and how messed up they are. I know that sounds rather twisted, but if I could just sit down and have a conversation with these characters, I feel like I would understand why they do the things they do. Either way. Without giving too much away, in the current season there is a girl named Grace who dies tragically in a car accident while the “mates” are all on “holiday” in Morocco (using the British terminology for “friends” and “vacation” of course). What I find beautiful in the midst of these college kids trying to cope with the death of their friend, they remember her at such opportune moments. Whenever they need her, they feel her presence. Grace, is always there. Grace, never leaves them. In life and death, Grace loved them unconditionally, without judgement, and with haste. No matter what crazy stunt her friends pulled, Grace was there for them. No matter how tripped out, twisted, or trashed her friends got, she was there for them. Without judgement, to love them with all of her heart.

Sound familiar to anyone? Sound like someone you know? The love and grace of Christ is always with us.Whenever we need Him, whether we know it or not, He is always there. To love us unconditionally, to love us with haste, to give us the grace we don’t deserve. Grace’s friends didn’t deserve her friendship. Comparatively, she was a saint and they were miscreants. But she saw the good in them, she brought out the good in them. Much like we don’t deserve the grace of Christ, but He gives it freely anyways, because He sees the good in us. He created the good in us. He brings out the good in us.

The title of this is from a Tenth Avenue North song that is beautiful, and talks about the grace of Christ. Have a listen. And remember, to always look for Christ, even when you think he’s not there. That’s when you’ll find Him the most.

-S

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