Last week I attended the New Wilmington Mission Conference. It’s the one week I look forward to all year. It's the only place on earth I know where this particular introvert feels completely at ease to walk up to anyone around and start a conversation and where life-long friendships are made in an hour over a simple meal consisting of something called tater-tot casserole. The freedom and joy I feel there from my usual insecurities, I believe, are just a glimpse of God's Kingdom to come here on earth. I received great encouragement from the speakers whom God used to remind me of a few things I forgot like:
- If you cannot see very far ahead, go ahead as far as you can see.
- Let the day's trouble be sufficient. Let the day's blessings be sufficient. Let the day's calling be sufficient.
- God calls us to the place where our deep gladness and the world's deep need.
- You need to release the season you are in so you can embrace what comes next.
- A person cannot continue to exist in a manner inconsistent with how they see themselves.
They reminded me that God’s ways are very different than my human ways and I’ve been spending too much time lately trying to approach my faith from the human understanding of goal-oriented, ever-increasing action. God created me specifically to do in his kingdom exactly what I love to do and am doing. I love to help those who do the big things. If I never do a “big thing” for God, I’m okay with that. We can’t all be Paul. Someone was created to be that nameless, faceless person in the crowd who attended to Paul’s needs as he addressed the crowds and wrote the letters we now know to be God’s Word and that someone in my world is me.
I've been feeling lost and joyless in my walk with God for a long time. I thought it was because I wasn't planning a bigger, bolder move in my discipleship—I wasn't working towards some future goal. I stopped reading my bible because I was depressed and the words seemed so empty. Eventually, I stopped praying because I felt like I had nothing to say. By the time conference came around this year, all I was doing was working, eating, watching TV, and sleeping. I needed an attitude adjustment.
I attended a workshop in which a missionary was explaining a Bible study he does with seekers in the foreign country he lives in. One of the study questions he shared cut me deep—If we believe this passage is from God, then what do we have to change this week to be obedient? I really do believe that the Bible is from God. So when I don't read my bible it's like I am refusing to listen to God when he's trying to speak to me. That's when I heard God's voice in my spirit: "You're not listening to me." It wasn't the angry accusation I expected, but rather a sad exhortation. After the workshop, I confessed to my brother in Christ that I haven't opened my bible since I can't remember when and his heavy-hearted response took me by surprise: "You must be emaciated." For a moment, I couldn't breathe. He nailed it. God's Word feeds me, nourishes me, and I've been starving myself. Why? I don’t know. Why did Adam and Eve disobey God? Why does anyone do unhealthy actions repeatedly? We’re human and that’s the nature of sin.
I’d like to say that I ran to my room and spent time reading my bible, but I didn’t. And I’d like to say that I came home this weekend and opened up my bible and couldn’t put it down, but I can’t. The change that needs to be made in my life isn’t one I can make happen on my own—only God can change a heart and that’s what I need right now. If all we needed was to change our attitudes and habits, we wouldn’t need God or his grace. I can’t pull myself out of this, but my God is powerful and his love for me is stronger than any hold this world may have on me. So that’s my prayer. God help. Change my heart and draw me to yourself. And I pray this with hope and with the assurance that he is just waiting for me to ask. I can rejoice now because my empty days are numbered. For God has promised that as I seek him with all my heart, he will be found.