Monday, February 12, 2007

trust and obey and the sacrifice that brings

So I feel that I need to clear up any misconceptions that I may have given. As I read back through my blogs and the image of joy and discernment that come from their words I realize that I am not being completely honest with myself or those of you that are faithfully reading my simple words. I have always found it hard to express my struggles or my short comings. AND I always choose to pretend like I am fine rather than burden someone else with my problems. However, that means the image I am sharing with people isn't the true image of me. I am human I mess up...I struggle....and at times I fall on my face. I am just like all of you. We are not different at all. I don't have some crazy direct line to God where I simple have to push speed dial one and find His voice on the other end of the line. I battle to find His will and I struggle to hear His voice. We have our moments when I feel that I couldn't be wrapped more tightly in His arms but frankly there are also moments when I feel angry with Him. I get confused and frustrated...and I tell Him about it.
I had one of those moments shortly after arriving here. That fact may surprise some of you but I really do NOT have it all figured out. When I left home I knew God had a lot in store for me and that things were about to change in my life in drastic ways. However, I wasn't prepared for the contentment I found here. I was ready for changes and ready for challenges but the only changes I found were in the changes of my heart. I felt at peace here and a love for the people that should have taken months to form not the mere days I had been here. So I sat one morning praying and talking with my God. However, it wasn't a peace filled talk where I praised Him for every part of this place. Don't get me wrong I spend plenty of time doing that...this day though was different. I was struggling and I was hurting and I wanted to tell HIM about it. I wanted answers. I wanted to know why He would bring me to a place that was thousands of miles from those I loved. I wanted to know why if this was His plan for my life that He would bless me with so many AMAZING friends and such an INCREDIBLE family. Why couldn't I have just had a few close friends and family whom I could stay connected with and still invest in from where I am. Instead HE made me a people person. HE made me love every person that was brought into my life and HE "blessed" me with some great heart people. It didn't seem fair that HE would allow me to have so many people that I was close to heart was screaming-"don't you see that this isn't just hurting me but You are forcing me to hurt the heart of so many others!" Then as He always does He whispered to my heart to be silent and gave back some of that peace that I was losing my grip on.
I have continued to question since that day and my struggles have not left me but I am learning to come to grips with those struggles. God didn't tell us it would be easy to follow Him. He promised to go before me and promised that the reward would be great but NEVER did He say the path to that reward would be smooth. In fact He warned that the His way would not be simple or easy. Our lives are full of sacrifices. We are constantly forced to choose which things in life are worth the sacrifice and which ones are worth sacrificing. The moment I realized that I also realized that my God was NOT one of those things worth sacrificing but instead is one of those things worth sacrificing for not. So this morning as I sat reading my bible and spending some time searching I began to look up every verse in the bible that dealt with sacrifice. I wasn't so sure I truly knew what the word meant. So how could I properly sacrifice without knowing what it meant to truly sacrifice. My search overturned a lot of verses that I haven't read for awhile. 1 Chronicles 21: 22-24 -- Matthew 8: 18-22 -- and many others. They spoke of how following Jesus in fact is not always easy or comfortable. Often it comes at great cost. However, they explain that the sacrifice must be great because while the cost of the sacrifice is so high the value of being Christ's disciple is even higher and yield such great reward. Not earthly reward but eternal reward.
However, the verses that hit me the most would be all of Matthew 10. It left me sitting in tears, bowing my head, and letting the words wash over me. I won't write it all out but I encourage you to grab a bible and read through it for yourself. It is pretty powerful. When I began this crazy journey ...back before I even set foot on the plane...I struggled with leaving home and those I loved. It was in this moment of weakness and struggle that I cried out to a few of those I was closest with. One of my friends said these 3 words to me - trust and obey. As we continued to talk of my questions and struggles he simply continued to repeat those and obey and and obey. Needless to say at the time that wasn't what I wanted to hear. I was searching for big answers and he simply gave me 3 words. However, I look back now and see that those 3 words are all I needed. They reminded me of a song then and still remind me of that same song. It gives such promise and brings such joy to my struggling heart. So for now and hopefully for always I will live my life by those 3 small words and the promise that the song that goes with those words brings to me.

When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.
Refrain:Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.
Not a shadow can rise, not a cloud in the skies,
But His smile quickly drives it away;
Not a doubt or a fear, not a sigh or a tear,
Can abide while we trust and obey.
Not a burden we bear, not a sorrow we share,
But our toil He doth richly repay;
Not a grief or a loss, not a frown or a cross,
But is blessed if we trust and obey.
But we never can prove the delights of His love
Until all on the altar we lay;
For the favor He shows, for the joy He bestows,
Are for them who will trust and obey.
Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at His feet,
Or we’ll walk by His side in the way;
What He says we will do, where He sends we will go;
Never fear, only trust and obey.

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