Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Looking toward twenty-four

Before my birthday, I always take time to reflect on the last year of my life. It was harder this year, just because more has happened in these 12 months than any others before. There's a lot of change to process, both good and bad.

I have become horrible at journaling over the last six months, which I guessed might happen once I started working full-time. I was looking at my extensively detailed journal from last year and read this entry from April 26, 2010. It was even written at about the same time as I was reading it.

In less than an hour, I will be 22. This has been a really good year, my 22nd year. I feel different about this birthday, like I'm really older -- an adult. I think it's because I know such a huge change is happening this year and that will change who I am, too. Like Josh has said, in Colorado, nothing has to hold me back from being the person I want to be and doing what I want to do. There are no expectations or preconceived ideas. It's a fresh start. I feel ready to make my 23rd year a really fabulous one. I want to have extraordinarily good relationships, I want to live an adventure, and I want to dream big. Here's to 22!

It's sobering to read my hopes and goals for this last year. I knew unimaginable change was approaching, but how can you anticipate what that really means?

In many ways, I have grown a lot. There are things I've done in the last year that I had never done before:
  • Get a full-time job.
  • Work in ministry.
  • Lead a student life group.
  • Mentor others.
  • Teach a large group alone.
  • Work two jobs.
  • Lead worship with hundreds of people.
  • Make meaningful friendships quickly.
  • Develop multiple relationships with people of different ages.
  • Develop skill in dancing, singing, design, photography and acting without fear of failure.
I realize in myself a confidence, courage and resilience I've never had before. But as I grow in so many outward areas, I also feel a weakening of my spirit. A year ago, when I had so much time on my hands and so few responsibilities, my prayer life was constant. I felt like I found new insights in God's Word every day. I wasn't engaging in ministry; I wasn't being used in very many lives or giving my talents and gifts fully to God. But I spent so much time in communion with Him.

How do I do both? How can I give everything I have to God and still have the time to know Him? How can I develop my spirit while developing my actions?

The rest of this week, I'm going to look for a word from God that answers these questions. Lord, guide me in Your Word to know your plan for this year of my life. Help me to seek growth in the areas that You care about, not in the areas that are important to me. Not in the areas that seek people's approval more than Yours.

Friday, January 21, 2011

My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.

One of the things I love about the Bible: No matter what I'm feeling, no matter how indiscernible or indescribable the dark cries of my heart are to me, there is something in God's Word that captures them. It's like God's way of showing me, over and over again, that He really does understand every thought in my head, and that the Spirit really can interpret my wordless prayers (Romans 8:26) into something that makes sense. They aren't pretty, granted, but they make sense.

When it comes to Bible guys, I'm really thankful for David. I'm not one of those people who is gifted in contextualizing and analyzing history, so I don't know really what David was like as a person; I just know that so many of his praises and complaints to God tend to summarize my heart. David definitely experienced highs and lows, and he shared both with God. I relate to that.

So I don't have many thoughts to share about this Psalm, but it spoke to me this morning and I am grateful again that God has comforted me with His understanding of my soul.

As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, my God.

My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?
My tears have been my food
day and night,
while people say to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”

These things I remember

as I pour out my soul:
how I used to go to the house of God
under the protection of the Mighty One
with shouts of joy and praise
among the festive throng.
Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.
My soul is downcast within me;
therefore I will remember you
from the land of the Jordan,
the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar.
Deep calls to deep
in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
have swept over me.
By day the LORD directs his love,
at night his song is with me—
a prayer to the God of my life.
I say to God my Rock,
“Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I go about mourning,
oppressed by the enemy?”
My bones suffer mortal agony
as my foes taunt me,
saying to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”
Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.
Psalm 42