Earlier this week my students and I were discussing how symbolically winter often represents death or an ending.
Then it started snowing.
And hasn’t really stopped at all today.
I think it’s beautiful how God is redeeming something that’s supposed to be dead. He’s making something clean and beautiful out of decay and death.
That’s exactly what he did with me. I was dead because of sin. He redeemed me and made me clean and beautiful. Thanks God.
“Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord : though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.”
Isaiah 1:18 ESV
I asked my students to complete this prompt, so I thought I would as well.
This year will be different. That’s an intimidating statement to make because who am I to say what this year will hold? Only God knows that. As I look back on the last year, though, I realize I was discontent with many of the relationships in my life. I wanted people to be different, and I sought acceptance from people around me. I was unhappy and insecure when I felt left out, whether I was truly left out or just imagining it. The root of my discontentment was that I was looking in the wrong place for my security. People, myself included, always disappoint, and I will never feel satisfied with a human relationship. Only God can satisfy and define me. This year will be different if I’ll keep that focus and perspective.
Secondly, this year will be different if I am thankful for the deep friendships I’ve already formed rather than attempting to force those in a new place. There’s no need to strive to be accepted by all. Instead I’ll strive to be a better friend to those around simply because that’s what God put me here to do. I’ll focus on demonstrating God’s love and being vulnerable as God leads rather than being concerned about how someone responds to my friendly gestures.
Ultimately this year will only be different if I’ll keep my focus on God and how he defines me rather than how people define me.
What will make your 2018 different?
“Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.” Proverbs 27:2
When this verse popped into my head, my first thought was to get all preacher-mode on a person in my life whom I’ve perceived as especially boastful lately. Then God said, “uh no, Cathy. This one is for you.”
When I feel insecure and insignificant, my initial reaction is to one up the other person in the conversation by stating what I’m doing better. That doesn’t accomplish anything though but make me look foolish and possibly hurt her self esteem.
God popped this verse into my head as a reminder to be humble. I don’t think this verse is saying to crave the praises of others but simply to refrain from praising myself. Really all the focus should be on God anyway.
My goal and prayer for the coming weeks will be to remember this verse, strive to praise God with how I live, and criticize others less quickly.
I go through phases where I want to read every book published and be the most well read (stop booing “nerd” at me). It becomes a bit of an obsession of mine, and sometimes supercedes my time with God. Usually I eventually feel guilty, repent, and change my schedule, but the cycle comes back around again.
“For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” Mark 8:38
This verse hit me like BAM today. It’s not just about the times I let this neglect of my relationship happen. It’s the attitude that creates that moment where novels (and occasionally other books) become more important than God-time.
I don’t need to read every book written when I have the most important one from God. It’s not wrong to spend time reading, especially those books that make me ponder God, but never should that point of pride about being well-read matter more than my relationship with God. In fact that pride shouldn’t exist at all.
This is too good of a metaphor not to share even though I should be going to bed.
“and he made from one man every nation of all mankind to live on all the the face of the Earth, having determined allotted periods and boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yes he is actually not far from each one of us.” Acts 17:24-27
I’ve heard the first part of this verse quoted by my Alma mater many times since it’s their motto, but maybe I’ve never read it in context. Some cool truths popped out at me tonight. God made the Earth with the intention of separating us into time periods and nations. The tower of Babel wasn’t God trying to discipline; it was part of the plan. That’s not even the metaphor I’m most excited to share.
God separated the people so that we could seek him and feel our way to him. Feel for him? Seeking is usually done with the eyes. I seek for a friend in a crowd by looking, not feeling with my hands, but someone who can’t see with their eyes needs to feel. Therefore, God is saying here that we are blind. How are we blind? Both Paul and John refer to us being blinded by sin in 2 Corinthians 4:4 and John 12:39-40. Before knowing Christ, we can’t see. Only through Christ are the blinders removed.
It just gets cooler though. Here we are, before believing, grasping at anything around us hoping it’s what we desire, even if we don’t know what we desire. We’re blind and can’t see past our own sin, but God is still right there! Verse 27 says he’s not far. He’s there waiting for just the right moment to reveal himself and remove the blinders, but in the meantime he’s still close by. He was there letting us feel his presence and protecting us before we even knew who he was.
That’s some pretty cool stuff. Do you interpret this passage the same way, or do you see something different?
“Today I know that such memories are the key not to the past, but to the future. I know that the experiences of our lives, when we let God use them, become the mysterious and perfect preparation for the work He will give us to do.”
Corrie ten Boom lived a life devoted to God in spite of her rough and often life-threatening situations. In her book, The Hiding Place, she tells the story of opening her home to Jews needing a place to hide. After being caught and arrested, she describes the horrors of jail then prison then prison camp. At times the prison camp closely resembled the concentration camps. Through all of the insecurity, pain, and misery, her faith in God rings loud and clear. Just as she said, she allowed God to work in her life, and he prepared her for every step, even at times protecting her supernaturally.
“There are no ifs in God’s world. And no places that are safer than other places. The center of His will is our only safety.”
Her story left me speechless in ways. She continually trusted that God would provide despite all around her signs of failure. She did his work until she died. I’m not currently in a place where I am in pain or in need of anything, but I still want to be in God’s will. It’s only there that I can work and rest in peace.
“But even kalte kost (bread ration alone) would be a small price to pay… for the precious books I clutched between my hands.”
Finally, Ms. ten Boom’s devotion to God is the most admirable thing about her. In this instance, she’s risking losing food in order to keep her copy of the Bible. Later she risks losing her life to smuggle a Bible into the prison camp. It makes me ponder how I would react if I was told I couldn’t own a Bible anymore.
I’d highly recommend everyone to read this story.