I Am Saying, "Yes"
Sometimes when it is almost super late-30, your FitBit is screaming at you regarding the fact that you have registered nearly 16,000 steps, and your alarm went off at 4:00 am summoning you to work out, the logical thing to do would be to go to bed. Yes, that is what seems like the smart thing to do, but sometimes God lays a message on your heart that you feel like you need to share. **Besides, I was waiting up to see my friend, Candace, AKA ChewbaccaMaskMama, on The Late Late Show!!! Is she not hilarious?! So happy for her.**
I cannot express how incredible the past few months have been for me. There have been days that were so incredibly painful that I did not want to get out of bed, much less talk to anyone, but persevere I did. No, nothing major has happened but I have struggled with emotional days that I cannot explain. What keeps me going? Joy that only comes from Jesus Christ. My daily walk with God, my quiet time that speaks to my heart and mind more than I can explain, and my beautiful friends that pray with and for me.
I have never been an incredibly devoted Bible studier or prayerful person. There have been brief periods of time where I would read the Bible for a few weeks but nothing incredibly consistent. I am known to my close friends as one who does not finish Bible studies. I have traditionally been one of those people, yes, those people that I get really irritated with that say they are praying but really aren't. It's a good "Sunday school" answer. That isn't exactly fair. I mean, I always have good intentions but the follow through was where I lacked.
I have changed. God has changed me.
I shared on my blog recently that in the early fall last year, God rocked my world, asked me to put my big girl panties on, and really deal with grown up stuff. While it was (and still is) painful, I will be forever grateful for what God is doing in those situations and in my life, personally. As I type this, I get tearful, because I cannot grasp how wonderful He truly is. He changed me.
Beginning the first of this year, I made a commitment to read my Bible every day. I knew it was something that would be hard for me because of my schedule and how busy I was, but I also knew that it HAD to be a priority. I found a blogger mom who posted calendars with a verse on each day. The goal is to write the Scripture verse and then journal about. I did this for about 3 months every day. Then, I started a Bible study, then another and my heart and mind changed into something different. I no longer felt the need to read my Bible daily, I wanted to. I cannot wait to find out each day what God is going to teach me through is Word and by talking directly to Him about my desires, wants, needs, praises, requests, thankfulness, etc.
I no longer do the daily calendar verses because I am doing a study in Hebrews as well as a study with our women's ministry in 1 Peter. We finished up the last women's ministry Bible study and took a 2-week break. I did not want to take a break and the reason was two-fold. I wanted to keep reading God's Word, and I knew that on my own, I might not be as faithful as I needed to be at that time. So, I downloaded the Hebrews study and started it on my own with the intention of stopping when we started the 1 Peter study. In those two weeks, I had already gotten to about the 3rd week in Hebrews and I could not stop. I was LOVING it!!! So now, I am one week away from finishing Hebrews - a 12-week study and two weeks away from finished 1 Peter - a 7-week study.
I plan to blog about what God has taught me through these studies - well, a glimpse anyway, but for today, I am moved to discuss what I have learned the last few days. In short, I have realized that I can trust God with my everything. I know, truly know, that God is faithful. I know that, if I believe God is who He says He is, then I have to put my "yes" on the table in obedience. I know that He deserves my whole self as an act of spiritual worship, as that is the only thing that is acceptable to Him.
When I got to Hebrews 11, I knew the passage pretty well. The interesting thing is that when I started actually reading it, I was overwhelmed with emotion. I remember just sitting in my car in the parking garage before work sobbing after coming to the realization that all of these people I was reading about were faithful, yes, but they were broken. They were sinful. They were not perfect but GOD USED THEM!!!! Not one of them was worthy of what God did in their lives but He did it anyway. Why? Because He is merciful and He is full of grace. This was huge for me coming off of the recent revelation that God had given me several weeks back - that I am to seek His approval alone, not anyone else's. I am not perfect but God can use me. I have never felt good enough. I measure myself against others...my friends and peers. I compare myself to those that I find, in my small mind, to be worthy of whatever it is I am seeking at the moment. In the car, that morning, I realized that I am just as worthy as those "greats" that I have been reading about all of my life - Abraham, Noah, Sarah, David, Rahab. God loves me just as much as He loved them and I can be used. That morning, I said "yes." I told God, "Whatever it is, even if that means going to another country to proclaim your truth, I will do it."
Sunday morning, my Bible study included the verses, "Since we are receiving a kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping Him with holy fear and awe. For our God is a devouring fire." Hebrews 12:28-29. I wrote that morning, "We should have a heart of worship that is acceptable to Him." Later, that day during the sermon at church, Bro. Tommy preached from Malachi 1:6-14. The jest of it was that Israel was bringing to God their leftovers. They were honoring others and there was no honor left for God which left him asking, "Where is my honor?" This automatically made me think about the verse I had read earlier that morning. "Let us worship Him with holy fear and awe." The Israelites were trying to get away with the least they could in terms of worship towards God. That is quite the opposite of what He has commanded us. My favorites verses of Scripture are from Romans 12:1-2 - "present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable, which is your spiritual act of worship." He wants us - ALL of us - our everything. That is our sacrifice, not what everyone did not get first. He wants us - that is acceptable to Him.
Today, God continued to teach me more on this topic. I always feel like that if God is repeating something to me that it is either because I did not get it the first time or He really wants me to know what He is speaking to me. Like, He really wants me to not only get it, but LIVE it! I finished another week in Hebrews and today I listened to the podcast by Jen Wilkin, like I do every week. She said SO MUCH good stuff this morning, I have two full pages of notes, but on this topic specifically, she said,
What is acceptable worship? Acceptable worship is offered out of gratitude. The joy of our salvation should drive us to right worship of our Savior. We should worship with awe and reverence which gives recognition of who God is. Romans 12:1 says to present your bodies as living sacrifices - that is what is good and acceptable - a reasonable act of worship. We are to lay our lives down daily, setting aside our pleasures, and look toward the finish line. We need to take inventory of those things that we place our daily comfort in, think about what things are fleeing, and where I am so consumed with myself that I miss others' needs. The Father that disciplines me is infinitely good and infinitely able, and He will bring me to the Kingdom that is unshakeable.
Over and over again, God has spoken to my heart about this idea of worship. I can trust Him. He is faithful. I have such a strong desire to walk with Him daily and seek His face that I cannot wait to worship Him.
There are few things in my life right now where I feel God specifically speaking to me. One is about my career and one is about my place in ministry. Where those two come together and where those separate is what I am still seeking His face about. I am incredibly happy at my job, but is it where God would have me? I want so bad to devote more time to ministry but what does that look like? Will you pray with me that God reveals these things more clearly to me in the coming days, months, and years?
I am not perfect but God can and WILL use me...if I allow Him to. I want nothing more.