Today is a big day. Sadly, I must confess that when my feet hit the floor this morning, I failed to recognize the greatness of today.
Last night, I rode the shuttle bus back from where I had parked my car after a late night dinner following a busy night of officiating basketball games. I was sore, tired, and already dreading Monday morning. This semester, each Monday seemingly has its own sting on my week. While my sweet girlfriend was listening to my complaining, the bus driver cut in. Humorously, he asked, "You know how Wednesday has camels?" Not having any clue where this was going, I simply kept on listening. He continued, "Well, Mondays are big. That's why I call them big Mondays." I, then, sunk back into my own little world of complaints and groans only to be confronted with the truth. He replied to my complaints with wisdom in saying, "No, brother. You gotta make Mondays big!"
I got off the bus, told him I appreciated what he said, and wished him a happy Monday, even though neither of us truly were entitled to see it. Then, I crawled into bed again with the looming thought of the pending confrontation that Monday brings me, rather than the thought of the conversation that had just occurred.
As I write to you now, I am getting my first meal and break of the day. I sat in class from 9am until 3pm only to meet the battering blow of rejection and failure leaving me beaten and weary. When I think about my life, it is easy to feel downcast about having three speech topic proposals rejected because of my Christian beliefs. Likewise, it is similarly easy to become distressed after utterly failing a very important Microsoft Excel exam that affects my classes for next semester.
These are the moments I am learning to cherish; for on our own, we are helpless creatures, bound for destruction. These moments leave me wearily searching for a better solution than my own knowledge and work ethic. It is in these moments that I am reminded of Jesus' worth.
As I walked to Smoothie King down University, I heard the voice of the Lord tell me to stop. "Stop, right now; just give up", said the Spirit. This voice commanding me to surrender was not of evil. I know this was of God for two reasons:
1. My mind was not focused on him, but he was clearly focused on me.
2. The voice I heard was not one of condemnation, but rather of grace.
I had sunk right back into my own little world, and Jesus sought me out. I hate to speak for the whole Christian race, but as a believer in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I can attest to the great struggle with pride. This morning, I felt more of a failure than I had since I stepped foot on this campus. Here's the problem with pride: while it boosts your ego when you "do good" (by your own standards), it also buries your ego when you fail to meet your standards. It is when we put down our pride at the foot of the cross that we can say with humble hearts, "Jesus, I am not enough." It is in that moment when the Spirit of the Living God sought me out and showed me how, yes, I fall humiliatingly short of God's glory, but God is more than enough. In the eyes of the Lord, I am more than a GPA. I am more than a test grade. I am more than an opinion. Better yet, it is his opinion of me that causes me to be worth more than all of these things. I am a child of the one true King.
God did not condemn me to my rejection and failure, but rather he called me out of my cave and into the light of sacrifice. When I heard the words, "Just give up", it was freeing. Another reason I know I experienced God intimately today involves this idea of feeling free in the midst of sacrifice. Love is sacrificial; it costs you something you value. Yet, love is the most freeing gift of all gifts.
While my desire is to share my heart with each of you, I desire even greater to share the love and truth of God with you. Take his Word over mine, every time.
2 Corinthians 3:17, "Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom."
John 8:31-32,"To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
I firmly believe I encountered grace this afternoon. Grace that of the Holy Spirit, who mercifully stopped me in my wandering. Oh, how the words of this beautiful hymn ring true in my life, today. This is amazing grace...
"Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing"
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood;
How His kindness yet pursues me
Mortal tongue can never tell,
Clothed in flesh, till death shall lose me
I cannot proclaim it well.
Today's failures and shortcomings caused me to refocus on Jesus, the sole author and perfecter of my faith. These failures and shortcomings taught me three things:
1. God is sincerely after my heart. It is he who cares and loves deeply, so deep to transfix my eyes solely to the cross in the midst of my suffering. That is not a God who torments me, but a God who sets me free. A God after my heart is a God worthy of my worship, my every being.
2. Jesus claims his pursuit of sinners and those who struggle to believe. For some, it is difficult to claim life in Jesus when he physically is not here. However, he has been here and he is coming again in an entirely new body. I believe in the cross. I believe in the resurrection. I believe in the coming King. The mark of the living Savior, the redeemer himself, was left here amongst us and will last for eternity. This legacy empowers the Holy Spirit to seek out even the most wayward of all of us. Even when we feel misplaced and furthest from God, he is there.
3. The Spirit of the Living God is wide awake, even when I am not. Do not mistake this for a cop-out to live a lazy life. God calls us to be actively seeking him in our faith. Yet, God lovingly pursues me by his Spirit even when I am running away from him. His love is constant and it is relentless. Praise our God and Father from whom all blessings flow.
Today was a big day solely because God was there. In fact, it was his day to begin with. Nevertheless, today was a big day because it was made possible and present by a big God. Our God is not a god of circumstance but the God of circumference. He is not controlled or changed by the events that occur within the day but rather he controls the days in their entirety. He makes the earth spin round. He causes the sun to rise and to set. He destined the stars and the moon to bring light to the darkness of the night sky. It is he who deserves the glory of the day, every day.
God was on that bus last night. God was with me as I rested. God was with me as I got out of bed. God was with me as I was rejected in class this morning. God was with me as I failed that test afterwards. God was with me even as I was not with him.
Then, a voice stopped me; there was God.
O, what a glorious moment it was when I looked up and saw God standing before me. He had been there all along, waiting for me to look up. Though my pride held me back, I am growing in understanding of my identity in Christ as more than a conqueror because of his power alone manifested in my weakness. He called my name and I heard him. Praise the Lord!
For those who believe that a God who allows us to suffer is a God not worthy of our worship, I say to you this: Who am I that the Lord of all the earth shall call upon my name? What makes me worthy of his goodness? There is nothing good in me but God alone. He will allow my limits to be tested only because waiting at my limits there is God himself. Yet, he is still too good to me. He showed up in the hearts of the sweet girls serving free PB&J sandwiches on the way to class. He showed up in the smile of the guy at Smoothie King. He showed up in revealing his wisdom behind this blog to me. And you better believe he will show up at my meeting for work this afternoon. Likewise, he will be at dinner with me. He will follow me to FCA and Ignite, and, by his will alone, he will lead me back to lay my head on my pillow in order to rest before my awakening in the morning with the purpose of glorifying his name and his name alone.
And if I were to return home at this very moment and miss these earthly times of this generation, not only can I trust that God would be there but I would be home, forever free in the presence of God. This gives me peace to face both the highs and lows of the day.
It is time to make every day a big day, for God is the author of all our days.
My prayer is that as you seek Jesus and as he pursues your heart, you would choose to allow the remainder of this hymn to be your song of praise and worship. Sing in the midst of suffering and adversity, for we have a King and a Lord who also serves as our worship leader. He calls us to praise him in the midst of our struggles. He calls us to worship him in the midst of our shortcomings. For he redeemed us from sin and, now, holds us in his hands.
O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.
2 Corinthians 4:8-12, "We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you."
Make today a BIG Monday. Grace and peace be with you, today and forevermore.