Blessings on blessings on blessings and lessons.
4. LISTENING– What a gift this is to have. To be able to listen to someone speak, or my favorite song (or any song, really) being played through my earbuds, or even simpler and quieter sounds of waterfalls or the wind outside while I’m falling asleep. It’s such a gift. But often times I forget that–I only want to hear people speak when it’s a good time in my life to listen, or I get frustrated when Spotify isn’t working or I can’t play music on the radio. Or I get upset because of how windy and cold it is outside. I take for granted the very things I actually enjoy, and that God has blessed me with. Listening for sounds and to people is one of the things God is showing me how to enjoy right now in this season. To actually take time to let the world pass by and just listen. Focused listening–really caring about and for whatever it is I am listening to. That takes slowing and quieting the noise around me and within me that always wants to distract me and rule over my life. Similarly, when listening to God or for God to speak, He’s showing me that He wants to speak to me and answer my questions, but I don’t always take the time for Him. But He’s so patient and gentle and loving. I want to be so quiet in my soul (at peace and still) that I can hear God’s heart for me and for all of His children around me. I want to listen better. Listening more will produce more life within me and around me. James 1:17-19 talks about all great things on this earth as coming from God and that we, as His kids, are part of those great things. It finishes with, “This you know, my beloved brethren. But let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger.” Often times I think I get caught up in how great God is (which is never a bad thing) but then I start to forget about his children. May I listen more and speak less.
5. LITERATURE–I love to read. I always have. That’s one of the many great things my momma taught and encouraged me with. People are so gifted at putting story’s together and drawing people in to the world that exists in the book, and that’s what I love most about them. I love watching and experiencing people follow their dreams and use their talents and loves to cultivate and change the world. Over the course of this year I️ read two books that absolutely transformed my life and the way I think. Both books were gifted to me so I take that as even more of a blessing from God because they were from two great friends. The books (or literature if I’m sticking to the “L” theme) caused me to reflect on who I thought God was and how I thought of Him and this relationship we have. As a result my heart softened to allow God to show me areas of my thinking and beliefs where I don’t always love like Him. Truly, I think that if I hadn’t read these books, I would be caught up in so many more irrelevant things and wouldn’t know how to love God or love people as well as I could. I’m so thankful for people who listen to God and follow His direction so that I can read books that bring a message of hope and transformation that exists only in Jesus. Literature allows us to digest knowledge at a our own pace. That’s another reason I love it so much. Over the course of this year I’ve also discovered and fallen in love with a few different translations of the Bible–translations that swell my heart and make it jump. The Bible is the Bible, but some translations are just hard to read. So I love to have the Truth of God’s loving voice reign over my life and call me out of fear and in to enduring life. Literature is art and art is so beautiful. Check out the books, “It’s Not What You Think” and “God Has a Name” when you have time.
I know I originally said there would only be five blessings, but to sum everything up I have one more.
6. LIBERTY–Man. This is the culmination of all of the blessings over the year (and really, over my life) leading me to a place where I know I am truly free. Not that I have found complete freedom from all of my sins and hurts, but that I KNOW I will have freedom from them in time. And that I know Jesus has set me free from all bondage this world wants to hold me down with. Liberty gives me freedom to try and to fail, to succeed and to mess up, and to continually come back to Jesus without ever feeling ashamed. Or, rather, to just turn to talk to Him and not worry of any condemnation. Liberty means I’m not tied down to any religious institution that says: “You have to look like ‘this’, do ‘this’, or believe exactly how we believe (physiologically, emotionally, politically) in order to be Christian.” Nah man, I’m trying to follow Jesus, not to fit into your religious box. Last time I checked, Christian meant “Christ follower”, so that’s what I’m going to do. Relationship is WAY better than religion. This experience has set me free. Free to know that although worship music is my favorite beat to bump, I really can listen to Kanye West, and Macklemore, and Chance the Rapper and not feel guilty about it or “lose” my salvation, as if salvation is what I most need. I need a relationship with the Creator of the universe. That’s what I need. I’ve always known about this freedom, but I don’t know if I’ve always believed it or lived it. Now this freedom doesn’t mean I get my source of energy and joy from the world, I just enjoy incredibly talented musicians and their art. And I listen to the Holy Spirit at the same time. If He’s telling me not to listen to a song or watch a show or go somewhere because of the way it will make me think or how it will turn me away from listening to God’s heart, then liberty gives me that choice to follow His guidance or not to, too. And that, is love. Hopefully I listen to the Spirit, because He knows what I truly need, not just want, but that is also part of learning. God isn’t about rules and regulations, He’s about relationship. Real, heart-giving, trusting relationship. And in relationship there is freedom for BOTH sides to move, live, interact, think, believe, exist, and be. I’m not a robot, and He isn’t a magic genie. We both exist and come alive in relationship. True freedom is found there.
I pray you find yourself here at some point and that you keep pressing in to the relationship with the One who sets us free and blesses us in abundance.