10 Lessons I’ve learned in 2015….
Well…today is the last day of 2015! It’s gone by so quickly but the richness of my experiences are still marinating and doing their work in me. I’ve learned many things and some things I’ve always known were more solidified and became more real this year. God is all about growing us into His likeness. And every experience has the potential to do that. Here are 10 lessons I’ve learned that make me want to chase God even more:
The same God who orchestrated a census to be taken during the time of Mary’s pregnancy so that Joseph would have to travel over 100 miles with her to get to his hometown, Bethlehem, so he could be accounted for, while all along being in the very place that God had planned for Jesus to be born, (and oh by the way, Bethlehem was also the place where the Passover lambs are known to be prepared) shows me that God is a God of detail. **sorry for the run-on sentence but it was too good to break up lol***
He orders steps. Where you are. Where you are working. Who He has surrounding you—those are details that matter to God. We may not always understand why things happen the way they do, but they matter to the greater story He is writing. And we must recognize it as such; not some forgotten piece. Know that details matter to God. Let Him work it out! “The steps of the godly are directed by the Lord. He delights in every detail of their lives”! (Psalm 37:23 NLT)
God’s Voice is greater than people’s affirmation:
God speaks. The question is have we learned to recognize His voice. And when we have, what He says to us won’t always be affirmed by people around us. Even those we see as our spiritual mentors. No, sometimes, God wants to make sure we are relying on Him and not man. So when He says to do something and we’re looking for affirmation and we don’t get it so we choose not to do it, we’re disobeying. Trust God’s voice and move accordingly. He will confirm it the way He desires. “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them and they follow me” (John 10:27)
Go to God with everything:
Did I say everything? Everything! The Holy Spirit directs and desires to put His touch on everything we aspire to do. I’ve learned to invite Him in my decisions. My conversations. My meetings. My writing…and the list goes on. I promise it makes a difference because you’ve chosen to commit it [whatever it is] to the Lord and what is committed to Him is safe. “In everything you do, put God first, and he will direct you and crown your efforts with success.” (Proverbs 3:6)
It’s OK to draw away:
I’m known to be a social butterfly. Can’t deny I love people. I love being around people. I love being involved and engaged. BUT I’ve also learned that too much of people and not enough alone time does something to me. I had a hard time admitting it because, somehow, I thought I was not being authentic to know people knew of me or that people would think that I was being mean and all the irrational thoughts that could drive you up a wall! Drawing away is mandatory. Spending time by yourself, enjoying your own company is maturity. Engaging yourself is important. Listening to your thoughts and responding accordingly is also important. Allowing that time for God to speak without distractions. Filling you so you can pour back out is a necessity for the Kingdom. And I’m learning that I don’t have to apologize or give reason to why I want to be alone. I don’t have to feel guilty. So know yourself enough to know when you need to draw away from people and go to that secret place. It’s OK! “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” (Luke 5:16)
Think about what you talk about:
What we talk about is reflective of what we think about. Our conversations matter. Idle talk doesn’t please God. I’m not saying that joking and having fun is completely thrown out the window, but I’ve learned to pay attention to what I talk about consistently. Am I talking about things of substance? Things that build rather than destroy? I have to say, I’m grateful for the conversations I’ve had this past year. They challenged me. Edified me. And most importantly, they’ve helped me grow spiritually and mentally. “But avoid irreverent and empty chatter, which will only lead to more ungodliness” (2 Timothy 2:16)
Not everyone will understand you…it’s OK:
The beauty of being created by God is how unique He has made each of us. This uniqueness is also seen in our relationship with Him. Each of us, though experiencing the same salvation through Christ, has a unique and intimate relationship with Him. I’ve learned that not everyone will understand that relationship so they will have a hard time understanding you. It’s OK. Don’t be discouraged. Remain authentic to how He’s created you. How He speaks to you. How you respond to Him. Let the fruit you bear speak for you. “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” (Psalm 139:14).
Sin is real but His grace is power:
No we don’t keep on sinning because grace exists. We receive grace because sin exists. I’ve learned more and more this year that outside the grace of God, I am weak. Very weak. And I’ve found comfort in the vulnerability that Paul displayed when he said that when he wanted to do good, evil was right there with him. I’ve recognized that I am filthy as rags. And I am a fool to think that I am above sin. The conviction of the Holy Spirit should cause us run to the cross, not away from it. Only the enemy runs with us and even cheers us on when we run towards condemnation. But when we choose to run to the cross, he backs away. For it is there he knows he has no power. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1)
DON’T stay in “your lane”:
I’ve committed to live this life emptying myself of everything God has put within me. Because we serve a limitless God, that DNA is within us. The more I dig deep in the Lord, the more He draws out of me the gifts He’s placed in me and it doesn’t have to stay in a “lane” as we often hear. I sing. I dance. I write. I act. I play sports. I teach. I lead. I use what’s been given to me to glorify God ultimately and to serve people because I’m expressing the many facets of His creation. I’m not saying because I do those things, a ministry or an organization has to come out of it. Motives must always be in check! I’m saying that you have the freedom to express it without feeling like you are outside of “your lane” (whatever that means). “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” (1 Peter 4:10)
Surrender your desires to Him:
Desires are not bad. And I learned this year that even the desires He puts in us must be surrendered to Him so that He could show us how and when and why. A great example is the journey of putting on WITHIN Ministry’s first retreat this year and what God taught me through that for which I will forever be grateful. Check out story here.
Don’t be afraid of the word Justice:
The tragedies that we’ve seen throughout this year on racism have truly been disheartening. And speaking up on those injustices doesn’t go against our faith. Justice and God aren’t exclusive of one another. In fact justice is part of our worship to the Lord. They go together. We don’t have to be afraid. God isn’t intimated by this conversation. He actually would love to give us the wisdom and the grace to bring light to this so that His work can be seen in greater measures through us. He wants to make sure our conversations and actions are motivated by His love because our responsibility is to make sure that our righteous indignation doesn’t morph into self-righteousness, which eventually turns into hateful actions.
These are serious times. While the enemy wreaks havoc in this world, we as believers can’t sit back and be OK with it. If there was ever a time that we need God’s presence in our individual lives AND our churches, it’s now. We have to increase our capacity to receive God’s love so that we don’t grow cold and bitter. We have to increase our sensitivity to the Spirit of God so that can fight this battle that isn’t against flesh and blood but against principalities and dark forces. He’s given us the weapons. We just have to know how to use them. “Learn to do right. Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow” (Isaiah 1:17)