Monday, August 27, 2012

still i will praise you

I’ll admit: It’s difficult to keep my focus on God when life gets rocky. I try to solve every problem placed in front of me with my own strength and will, almost to the point of exhaustion. I carry more than I can handle on a daily basis—all for a little satisfaction to get through each day. Sometimes I do pray to God (mainly when it’s the last resort), but oftentimes He doesn’t answer them right away or even answers them differently from what I had hoped for. You would think that by accepting Jesus into our lives, everything should be peachy keen, right? When I go through these unexpected struggles, it’s hard for me to understand what God is doing in my life; I get anxious, worrisome, and numb. I find myself crying out “Where are you God?!”
How do we respond to suffering as a Christian? We live in a broken world filled with heartaches, tears, cries of desperation, and loneliness. How do we persevere through these times?
James says this:
“Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.” [James 5: 7-8, NIV]
When we allow ourselves to focus on what’s coming in the future instead of the problems we have now, we realize that there is greater purpose, a greater reward, waiting for us. One day, Jesus is going to come back. Are we going to be ready for that? Are we going to be fully prepared for his glorious return? Or are we took focused on the task we have on hand that limits us from attaining and acknowledging this beauty?
“Be patient and stand firm, because the Lord is coming near.”
Ouch. We tend to identify ourselves in the here and now. Instead we need to identify ourselves in this truth: If we put heaven in its rightful place as a real and tangible reward, perseverance becomes a practical form of worship. When we persevere through these hard times, we trust that God is faithful; being patient is an act of faith, which is established in our hearts. It is when we lose hope and lose sight of what is to come that we feel empty, alone, and worthless.
As James points out, consider the prophets.
I can’t imagine how much these guys went through. Shunned. Abandoned. Persecuted.Through their sufferings, they were still devoted to God. They prayed and prayed, and even when life threw more obstacles their way, they prayed even more. They knew of God’s ultimate plan, regardless of what the world thought of them. Whatever we are dealing with right now, we know that God’s purpose for us comes from His abundant compassion and mercy.
“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’” [Revelation 21: 3-4, NIV]
This is such a beautiful image. This is why we need to persevere in this life…it’s to get to this point. As I read this, I thought about the times when I cried, and someone was there to wipe away my tears. The peace and comfort I felt when that person took away not only my tears, but the heavy weight that came with them was such a relief. That’s how I imagine what will happen…but even 100 times better. Imagine never having to feel pain or to experience death because God is dwelling with his people.
When I think about the words to a worship song we often sing as a church, I feel that it perfectly sums up this weekend’s message:
I can see a light that is coming for the heart that holds on
And there will be an end to these troubles but until that day comes
Still I will praise You, still I will praise You.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

two years

As I write this, I have to pause and think. I've been married for two years. That's half the time I've known Brian. Crazy and surreal...

It's been an amazing two years. Has it been perfect? No, but it definitely has been adventurous...discovering who we are and what role we play, realizing what marriage is (and continuing to learn more each day), and fighting battles, mentally, physically, and spiritually together. And through this adventure, we learn to rely on God more and more each day.

I married my best friend when I was 22. I was fresh out of college (eish). I barely started a job I disliked. And I had no idea how to be a wife. The first six months I struggled fitting into this new role, this new transition. I constantly found myself crying every week, because I wasn't the "perfect wife." I had certain expectations that I thought had to be filled. I was always comparing myself to other married couples. In the first six months, my biggest fear was letting Brian down. And with that fear overriding my life, my insecurities were far from hidden. I thought our marriage had to be perfect. 
Through our imperfections, God reveals the true beauty of marriage. Being married is challenging and hard. But it's also amazing and full of laughs (or in my case, snorts). Each day you learn something new about the other person...and even yourself. You learn the real meaning of love when the other person says, "I'm sorry." It's about learning to live together and doing ministry together as one. 

When I think about our marriage, I can't help but smile. I am one lucky girl.

To this day, people keep asking me, "How's married life?" Honestly, I don't know how to answer that. Most of the time, I just smile and reply, "It's great!" But even that response doesn't embody how I feel about married life. It's a whirlwind of emotions; obviously the good ones weighs over the bad. But how do you explain to someone in a few minutes (or even seconds) how married life is? The only thing I can think of is this: 

I love being married.
I love living life with my best friend. 
And when we allow God to be the center of our marriage, we see Him working in our lives in ways beyond our own strengths.

Happy Two Year Anniversary my love :) Can't wait to celebrate more!