Was walking through Target today and noticed lots of fun fall colors and patterns in the Dollar Spot- which can only mean one thing! Summer is starting to wrap up, and I can confidently say that this summer went by faster than any summer I've yet to experience! For the past two-ish months, I have been living in Franklin, TN completing a summer marketing internship with Bragg Management, loving on kiddos and staffers at Deer Run Camps, watching lots movies and having lots pool days with Uncle Andrew, Aunt Susan, and Bea, and searching for what the Lord might have for me post-grad! While my senior year of college sits waiting for me after a longgg drive back to Texas, I just wanted to take some time before then to reflect on what the Lord has taught me this summer- because Y'ALL! He has absolutely shaken up the Pharisee-foundation of faith that I have been unknowingly building over time and replacing it with the solid ROCK of his TRUE Gospel!
Before packing up the ol' Kia and making my way to Tennessee, I had about a week to sit and reflect on my junior year of college and, of course, about a week to get those nervous jitters about starting a new adventure. I found myself sitting in a place of doubt- doubting what the Lord might have for me, doubting my ability, and even doubting the Gospel. I KNOW, pretty wild right? I developed some serious imposter syndrome in that week- wondering if I even knew what the Lord's voice sounded like and questioning whether I was being obedient to what He was calling me to this summer.
I was reminded during this transition week that doubt and faith are often intermingled, with their coexistence not only being "okay" for me to feel, but NORMAL. I remembered words of a sweet and wise friend telling me "faith without doubt is fullness of knowledge," and oh man, I was sure lacking knowledge! So of course I would be feeling some doubt, and that was the perfect opportunity to choose faith. The Lord kept putting that one word on my mind to pray for...FAITH. Truly any question I was asking Him, I felt myself coming back to the word 'faith' on repeat.
How will I know which paths in Tennessee will lead me toward post-grad clarity? Faith.
How will I make friends in this new state? Faith.
How will I find a church home and make sure I'm growing spiritually? Faith.
How will I be sure that I am hearing His voice? Faith.
How will I know that His promises for me are true? Faith.
So you can imagine how I might have been feeling when on my first Sunday at my Tennessee church home, the pastor kicked off a summer-long series on faith. In case you can't imagine, i'll describe it to ya- chills that went straight into my soul, tears in my eyes, and a feeling that I was exactly where I belonged. (PS- I feel like I could write a book worth about what I learned in this series, plz ask me about it!) This began a summer-long journey of the Lord rebuilding my faith muscles into something that moved out of just head knowledge, into my tangible body.
If you only read one thing from this little story of mine, let it be this- Before knowing Christ, every breath I breathed was sinful. After knowing Christ, every breath I breath is redeemed. It's time let go of the fear of inadequacy and put faith into our physical bodies.
That is my thesis statement for this post and the mantra I have come to live by this summer. If you have time to stick around, I'd love for you to keep reading and hear more of how I arrived here and what those words mean to me. If not, no worries! I pray that you would step into the freedom of redemption, stop trying to be perfect, and enjoy an intimate faith with God that moves in your physical body in a way that only His Holy Spirit could :)
I began to see how the Lord was rebuilding my foundation when I felt called to revisit the Gospels. At first, I was pretty disappointed that I felt like I needed to "back track" to Matthew, feeling as if I had "graduated" from the basics and was enjoying studying "more intricate" books like Isaiah and the minor prophets. Y'all see the problem there, right?? A couple weeks in to reading through this book, I was absolutely shell-shocked.
I was a pharisee. And that, my friends, was a severe problem.
Oh goodness, I read about the Parable of the Sower and realize how much I longed for fast-fruit that could be beautifully displayed instead of deep, invisible roots. I came to realize how deeply I cared that others knew I was doing a great job living life! I was absolutely obsessed with making sure I was following right paths of morality. I would read the pharisees ask Jesus all these CRAZY and specific questions and think 'geez, why are they so obsessed with all these minor technicalities of the law when JESUS is standing right in front of them?' and quickly realized THAT WAS ME! I was terrified of making a mistake, of sinning, or of getting off the path that Jesus had for my life.
THAT IS NOT WALKING IN FREEDOM! THAT IS WALKING IN WORKS! Praise the Lord for His unwavering patience with me!
My sophomore year, I felt called to study James 1 in depth and walked through it literally word by word with a mentor. Up until this summer, I wasn't exactly sure why the Lord had called me to that passage in that season, but I found myself back in those verses these past months and the Holy Spirit started to connect some dots.
Man, faith without works is dead. But works without faith is no faith at all. More than intellect and knowing things about God, I started to feel pulled to get off the sidelines and start living for Him. I was so afraid of "messing up" that I was frozen in my fear, not making any moves for the kingdom. Putting faith into your physical body means trusting that His grace carries you enough to do things that are outside your comfort zone.
Before the Lord saved me, I was His enemy, a child of wrath. Every single moment was sinful- I couldn't get it right, and yet He still wanted my heart. After knowing God, I have become His child. Dearly loved. Carried by grace.
Does that mean every breath I breath is not still full of self-righteousness and sin? NO. The only difference now is that the Lord doesn't see that anymore- the debt has been paid. I am free.
I remember last semester getting so frustrated with myself because it just felt like I could not stop sinning. I was noticing people-pleasing in so many of my actions and apathy in the others. What the Lord has brought me to realize is that I am POWERLESS on my own to stop sinning. I simply have to lean into the freedom of His grace- I am not going to get it right all of the time. Does that mean I should just keep on sinning? By no means! But by finding my freedom, I am able to put faith into my body without fear.
I was reading in Proverbs this week and could not get passed all the verses packed in there with instructions. I started to feel myself begin making mental to-do lists so I could make sure I did everything Proverbs told me to do. Then, I stopped. Noticed a couple chapters back. Proverbs 1 says REVERENCE of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom (that's my word of the year yall!). It's literally not on me to keep track of my own sanctification! What freedom! This doesn't mean I shouldn't be accountable for my actions, instill disciplines in my life, or apologize when wrong, but it does mean that I can truly just let the spirit take control of my fruit. None of me, all of Him
So, do I know what I am doing post-grad? Absolutely. I am going to choose God and love Him. I am going to ask Him for wisdom. I am going to ask Him to tend the soil. I am going to trust that his promises are true. I'm going to put FAITH into my body in the little things, and trust that His spirit will equip me for the big things. Will it be perfect? Do I know the specifics? Nope! And I suppose that is just all part of the adventure of life in the Lord :)