Last week a friend of mine challenged me to reflect on five blessings that God has given me in 2017. Her challenge was that with all of the stress of school, work, or sport it can be easy to think more of the negatives in this life or the things that “God hasn’t changed” for us instead of all of God’s blessings over our lives. This really stirred something in me to think of all of the wonderful things God has blessed me with over the course of this past year. There are so many more blessings than just five, but I tried to think of the ones that affected me in the greatest way. I didn’t originally write them down with the intent of sharing them with anyone, but I realize that it’s so good to share the testimony of God in our lives, so here they are. I’m going to break them in to two different posts just for easier reading so be looking out for part two coming soon. Here it goes..
- LOVE– He has shown me the true meaning of love more so this year than ANY OTHER year of my life. I used to think that love was simply an emotion or a thing found in marriage or romance, but it is SO much bigger than just that. The simplicity, yet depth, of God’s love for all of His children is life changing. I never quite realized that God really does love ALL of His children, even if they don’t love Him back. The One being who could control all chose to be vulnerable with us, His creation, knowing we could, and would, turn away from His gentle hug. I want to dive into that love more and more. I want to BE that love. I want to be better at loving each specific person in my life, in the way that they need to be loved, because that’s what Jesus does. 1 John 4:10 is my life verse right now and it teaches what true Love is. My paraphrase of it says, “In this act is love; not that we could ever or would ever love God, but that He loved us first and came to us first, sending His Son as the sacrifice to clear our sins and to fix the shame we hold, while also restoring the damage they’ve done to the relationship with our Father.” Love payed His life on the cross so that we could be covered and then restored through His resurrection. What a love that is.
- LEADERSHIP– Over the course of this year I’ve been given more and more opportunities to expand my leadership capabilities and also to use my leadership capabilities. Whether it is on my football team, on campus interacting with people, in church, or in the classroom, I have been given more and more opportunities to lead and to learn how to lead better. Some situations have been really hard and they’ve tested me, and I learned from them. And some situations have been easier and I’ve learned from them. Though I don’t know the future and often worry and doubt my abilities, I know that God has me in His hands, and that is my comfort; a sure assurance. 1 Corinthians 13:12 talks about not seeing things so clearly right now but knowing that someday we will. Trusting that although I don’t know why some things happen or what is going to happen in the future, I don’t have to worry because God does. This is the verse that I hold on to. “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I shall know fully just as I also have been fully known.” Jesus knows us fully.
- LANGUAGE– This exists on a couple of levels. In school I’m learning and expanding the language of public speaking and communicating within and from my own being–really taking responsibility for my words and life choices. This has come about because I changed my major over the summer. It has been an incredible process of slowing down and finding out why I’m really here at school or even why I am here in Dickinson. There is a purpose for both, a great purpose. On another level, though, I have learned the language of the Holy Spirit. I was both physically baptized in water and baptized in the Holy Spirit over the summer and both of those instances have changed my life. I do not believe baptism is what saves anyone (because Jesus said a relationship with Him is what life is about) but I do believe in the act of outwardly declaring that Jesus is Lord over my life, so that’s what I did. Being baptized in the Holy Spirit was a whole different thing but it has also set me on a trajectory in life that I would have never known before. I know now what it means to listen for the Holy Spirit and specifically follow His direction and gifting over my life. Though I sometimes (often times) struggle at staying focused and listening for Spirit’s gentle whisper, I know how life-giving He is and I want to stay connected to Him. I need it. People need it. We all need to have our lives radically wrecked and radically changed. Romans 10:14-15 speaks about this, saying, “How then shall they call upon him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring glad tidings of good things!'” May we listen so that we can be sent so that others can believe and call upon Jesus’ healing power.
I️ hope that this has been an encouragement for you and has caused you to reflect on the blessings covering your life, too. Look for part two coming soon.