My Hawaii adventure is halfway over! Holy moly, what!!?! Today's blog post is a little different. I want to be super open and share some of the harder wrestlings in my relationship with God first and foremost. Walking with the Lord is not only happy feelings of waterfalls, sunsets, and shave ice on the beach. A true relationship with him is also full of questions, pruning, and refining. With all that said, here are a couple of ways the Lord is using Hawaii to stretch my faith... but no worries, my weekly updates and fun beach photos are all at the end of this post! :)
REMOVAL OF FEAR
I am scared of the ocean.
It feels just as silly to type it as it does to feel it. From the shore, I rationalize with myself, reminding my heart that I have nothing to fear by venturing into its depths. However, as soon as my feet are released from the comforting feeling of sand from underneath them, my heart starts to panic a bit. I look in the distance at the approaching waves and allow my mind to imagine all the creatures that could be lurking underneath me. I lack control in the ocean's depths- and that can be a little too much for me. So really, I am afraid of not being in control, which is a much bigger issue.
In processing this, the Lord brought to my mind the familiar story of Peter walking on water in Matthew 14. As Jesus walked on the water and approached his disciples, their first response was fear. Peter, in a bold act of radical faith, believed in his friend Jesus enough to take a radical step of trust onto the ocean to greet Him.
In my mind, I guess I always just pictured Peter walking onto a still body of water, with clear skies and birds chirping in the distance. When he began to sink, my gut reaction was to think, "Geez, Peter! Jesus was right there! Why didn't you just focus on Him? How hard is it to just take another step?"
The Lord graciously reminded me of verse 30, where we are told that Peter examined the strength of the wind and experienced a moment of fear. The waves didn't stop just because Jesus was there. After my own experiences with waves, I began to empathize with Peter a little more. I relate to his fear of the unknown and lack of control.
What Peter did well, however, was immediately cry out to Jesus when he felt the devil's tactic of fear start to spring up in his heart. And Jesus, as He always does, immediately grabbed hold of Peter with the tight grip of His love. Verse 32 even says that, as soon as they were back on the boat, the wind ceased. I've missed that before!
We have a real enemy who is plotting against us, throwing all the scary waves at us that he can in order to take our eyes off of our steady savior. Earthly comfort is not promised- in fact, Jesus said that in this world we WILL have trouble. If I am expecting my relationship with God to bring me earthly comfort, then I am buying into the prosperity gospel.
Time with Olivia on the island has been incredibly refreshing to my soul, and I enjoy our deep convos more than anything! One night, we had been talking for almost three hours about life, God, and what has shaped us to be who we have become. Out of the blue, we both simulatiounsly had a realization that we were two, 20-year-old girls alone in a huge house, and felt a deep sense of anxiety for our safety. It came out of nowhere, but it was a real and present fear for both of us. The Lord, who is currently teaching me to recognize the devil's schemes, was quick to show me that those feelings were not from Him- it was the ENEMY, trying to take us both away from a life-giving moment! I called it for what it was, an enemy's arrow, and almost immediately I felt my peace restored.
I am daily sitting at the Lord's throne, begging him to help me recognize the attacks of the enemy and have peace in giving him all control. There is no fear in His love!
WONDER AND PURPOSE
Starting this trip, I had the unspoken expectation with Jesus that He would reveal what He wanted me to do for the rest of my life while here. The Lord, however, is not on my timeline... but we knew that :)
I found myself discouraged, however, as I visited beautiful beaches, drove through tall mountains, swam with one-of-a-kind wildlife, and tasted amazing new foods because I was not experiencing a feeling of WONDER. This lead me to realize that I do not have a true sense of WONDER about the gospel either. That concerned me more than anything.
Praying on my bedroom floor, I asked God to increase my view of Him. I wanted a grand, tear-filled realization about the depth of His love for me, but this is not what I found. I am finding that I love Him more today than I did yesterday. I loved Him more yesterday than I did the day before. I am waiting patiently and expectantly for an overtaking wonder at who He is. He is worth waiting for.
And as I explore future careers, I am realizing that if God told me exactly what he wanted me to do, I would probably be too afraid to say yes. I think it's going to be something scary. I am practicing giving God my "yes" in the small areas so that I will be ready to say yes when I hear his voice about the future.
I stay up at night thinking about the things I would be willing to give up for Him, and it's heavy and hard. Would I choose God, even if he wanted me to be single for the rest of my life? Would I choose God, even if it meant a job I wouldn't choose for myself? Would I choose God, even if it didn't end in a book deal? I want my answers to be yes.
I am daily sitting at the Lord's throne, begging him to increase my sense of wonder, which will in turn inspire my obedience. His plans are worth saying yes to!
I've said this before in previous posts, but teaching children is refreshing my soul and reminding me of the simple gospel. While I have known lots of things ABOUT Jesus for a while, I am suddenly feeling myself at a crossroads, with a choice to believe them when it really counts or to rely on my own strength.
There are moments when being obedient feels scary, and I have to CHOOSE to believe that my God has my best interest at heart, even if it doesn't feel like it.
When I feel anxiety creep in, I have to CHOOSE to believe that the Lord will fight my battles if I will only be still, even if I want to try to handle it on my own.
Sometimes thinking about the longevity and ultimate struggles of life will feel overwhelming to me, and I have to CHOOSE to believe that the Lord has a purpose for me.
Daily I am having to choose to believe that Jesus is real, He died for me, He rose again, and that He has given me hope for eternity. The Lord gives me the strength to choose it again and again. This is different from knowing ABOUT Jesus. It's betting my life on Him.
I am daily sitting at the Lord's feet, begging him to help me choose and believe truths that I was taught in Sunday School.
WHAT IVE BEEN UP TO
Deep breath. That was a lot! But it's real, and it's my heart! I never want to only post the glamorous parts about following Jesus. But even in the hard moments of choosing to trust Him with everything, He gives me the joy to love and experience life! Here are a couple of the adventures I went on this week!
MY PARENTS ON THE ISLAND!
My parents celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary this week! I am so inspired by these two and the way they were able to prioritize time with each other after a really hard year. No one will ever know all the heavy things these two carry. They inspired me in the way they trust the Lord through their ministry! They are in this thing for the long haul!
It was also so fun to have them sitting next to me during Sunday's church service! Yay for Father's Day! I am so thankful for all the things my dad has taught me about ministry, simply by leading by example. I love sharing the Kingdom with two of my biggest inspirations!
Watching them leave made me incredibly sad for a quick moment, but I know I am exactly where the Lord wants me to be! That brought so much peace!
CHURCH EVENTS and ADVENTURES
This week, we got to spend some one-on-one time with a couple of girls from the youth group! One family even took us on a beautiful boat ride, where we hung out on a natural sandbar for the afternoon! We also had our weekly events, where we got to continue loving on kids and build relationships with them. One of the most impactful things about this week was KID LEAD WORSHIP! A group of kids came together to sing, dance the hula, and pray over the congregation Sunday morning! So proud of them and their obedience to be faithful with their gifts!
Continuing to feel so loved by this church family and the way they pour out all they have for the body! I am so so attached to this place and these kids. Feeling thankful that I still have three weeks, but am already dreading saying goodbye to this summer!
Until next week! You are so loved by JESUS! :)