The mood was set. The lighting low. The ambience up. The music softly playing in the background. Everything was in order for a night of worship and prayer and experiencing God. Except for my heart.
Gathered in a room with other young adults in a moment of prayer and worship, I found my heart anxious and prideful and my thoughts focused on all the wrong things about that night. I was struck with conviction at the realization that my outward actions resembled a worshipper, but my heart was certainly not submitted to God or in a place of surrender. I was reminded of just how easy it is for even those who love and follow Jesus to find themselves to be hypocritical and unloving.
This last school year was a challenging one for me. After experiencing two rather easy and enjoyable years in the classroom, year three at this school just really slapped me in the face. Early on in the school year, I knew that something was off. I felt like every decision I made or every thing I covered in class just seemed to get me into trouble. I struggled to understand what the disconnect was, and I am ashamed to admit how long it took me to realize that God was stirring. Initially, I handled everything wrong. I was frustrated and angered by the fact that I felt hounded and tattled on. I felt like I was a child caught in other child drama, and I let my anger and attitude drive me. Thankfully, God eventually broke down my walls, and I was able to see the grossness of my attitude. Even after that though, I continued to struggle throughout the year with my attitude and receiving every frustration with grace, mercy, and humility. What I did not struggle with was the fact that I felt God was moving me in a new direction.
It was a humbling effect to constantly live in the tension of wrestling with my heart and attitude and remaining faithful in the place God still had me while simultaneously knowing that He was leading me some place else. If anything, what I learned the most this last year, I learned through failure. I finished out the school year confident that my time in the classroom had come to an end, but still unsure of what my next steps were. Naturally, I felt compelled to push, if not fight, for the answer.
This is where I found my heart still to be in a recent night of worship and prayer. Rather than coming humbly before God, seeking patiently what His next steps for me were, I had an attitude. This attitude of mine has certainly proved to be more and more cumbersome the older I have gotten. Attitude and surrender just cannot exist together.
As we were worshipping and different people began to speak out and pray over the group, Hebrews 13:8 came into my mind.
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
My pride was fiercely at work as I stood there thinking, “Yes, give me a chance to share. I will say great things about God because I have great things to say. Because I am great.” Maybe not exactly in those words, but the point is that my thoughts were more focused on myself than on God. I was stuck in a moment of thinking and feeling that I deserved to be in a better place, in a better job, in the place of ministry I want to be in, just because I have been walking with Jesus for years. In fact, I had been resting in a place of frustration, certainly for weeks and likely even for months. I want so badly to see the things I believe God has revealed for my life to come true. I want these things so badly that I even try very hard to fight to make them happen, as if it was up to me. That’s when the verse really sunk in for me.
I walked away from that night with two huge reminders.
- Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever, NOT ME.
Whatever it is that I feel God has revealed to me for my life and future, the fact remains that God is God and I am not. How silly of me to think even for a moment that I am capable of accomplishing something that God ordains. Literally every step of my last six or seven years has the visible touch of God on it (probably more like every step of my entire life, but I tend to be more aware of the last set of years), and for some reason, I still tend to think that I can influence tomorrow. Sure, in some capacity I do actually have to take action, like the hundreds of jobs that I have applied for in the last several months, but I will never actually move forward unless God allows it. To know that God has revealed a plan to me is one thing. To think I alone can accomplish that plan is silly. I am not the orchestrator of life. God is. To rest in that brings so much more peace and joy than any momentary hope I might think I experience in my perceived own goodness and ability.
- Jesus Christ is the same YESTERDAY and TODAY and FOREVER.
I find it very easy to laugh at myself and my own stupidity. Quite frequently actually. I tend to operate at 300 miles per hour, and because of that, I often miss what is right in front of my face. I experience moments on a regular basis in which all I can do is laugh at how stupid I have been to miss what God was doing. As an example, read further up in this blog. I missed out on experiencing trust and resting in God through a storm because I was so focused on fighting the problems I was experiencing with truth and justice. Poor me. Thank God it is not up to me.
There are so many markers of God’s faithfulness in my past. I have journals and bibles that I can skim through to see and remember the stories of God’s faithfulness in my life. The ways that He worked miracles. The moments He provided when there was no other provision. The finances He handled. The people He blessed me with. I could go on. I also tend to live a relatively stress free life when I consider the distant future. I rest secure in the fact that my hope is in Jesus. It’s the near future I struggle with. The present moment and the immediate moments that follow. The here and now. I know without a doubt that God is the same God yesterday and forever. I struggle to remember that He is also that same God TODAY. I miss so much today because I am too worried about tomorrow.
I know that my yesterday influences my today, and that God has most definitely used my yesterday to lead me to today. I seem to easily forget that living TODAY and trusting God TODAY is actually what leads to that tomorrow that I am so certain of. Instead of fighting so hard to get what I think He is planning, I must learn to rest in today, to ask only for today’s guidance. I do not need tomorrow’s miracle before I receive today’s miracle.
In all the frustration I feel and experience with other people, rest assured, I am most frustrated with myself. I am so thankful that we serve a God that is not only mighty and powerful, but also patient and loving. Today I rejoice in the fact that I am loved by the God of the universe and that He is constant. He is the same TODAY, just as He was yesterday and just as He will be tomorrow.