So originally I was going to write about ‘How to style a denim vest’ but that’s easy – throw it over a dress or a simple tee and you’re good to go. 🙂
Today, I’m changing it up. I’ll be honest, I haven’t been to church in 4 weeks <insert hand over forehead emoji>. And you could argue, ‘Well I talk to God everyday, even throughout the day, and maintain that relationship’ so I’m “good”- but there is something about fellowship and community that you feel deeply at church, that you don’t get anywhere else – not on Instagram, not on Facebook, not at work or anywhere, really. On top of community, you hear the word of God with the intent to go act on His word throughout the week. I look at Church as building my relationship with the Lord through a variety of messages that marinate on and pursue throughout the following week. In this post, I’m going to share the message from yesterday and the learning and insights I took from it that will hopefully encourage you.
Yesterday, our pastor titled the message, ‘Many Aspire, Few Attain’. Many aspire for a God driven life, but few attain it. So this is how it began: As we start on our spiritual journey, we are motivated and hyped up for the Lord, but as we continue on our journey, there can be distractions, struggles and challenges that can deter us from our path. Personally, I have felt that there are times where I feel very close to the Lord and then other times where I drift. Not for any apparent reason but it happens. Does anyone else ever have those moments?
What I firmly believe the Lord wants us to do is not just start our journey well and on the right foot, but He wants us to finish it well. Just like Paul says in the Bible, His desire is to finish his journey with joy. Don’t we all want that? It’s so easy to get hung up about what’s happening in the moment but let’s think about the end of our journey – how do we want to succeed – with joy or failure – and how do we get there? To tackle any and all situations in life with God’s grace, mercy and love – and when we’re struggling to do that, learn from those specific situations He’s has called us to. I firmly believe God doesn’t call the qualified – He qualifies the called. So when you are called to partake in a situation in life (good, bad, ugly), the Lord has already given you all the resources you need to be successful in that situation- you just have to focus on Him and use those useful resources.
One (of many) things that fell on my heart yesterday morning was that this spiritual journey is voluntary. I mean honestly it seems pretty obvious but my instant reaction to this statement was, ‘why would we NOT want to partake in this journey?). God isn’t coercing any of us to partake in it – it is completely our choice. But it is a choice that we must give our whole life to (not half our life, not a quarter of it – our entire life). A choice that will suffer persecution and ridicule from those who do not agree with this journey you decided to be on and for what you stand for. Like, whoa!
Have you thought about it this way? The bible also says that this is a life choice that is not for the faint hearted or fearful. In Deuteronomy 20:8, it says, ‘What man is there that is fearful and faint hearted? Let him go and return to his house. Don’t enter the race (this journey) if you’re fearful and fainthearted because you’ll infect others around you.’ When we enter this spiritual journey centered around Christ, we enter it because we plan to win it. Not to just ‘see how it goes’, but stay committed and strong to the Holy Spirit to constantly build a stronger relationship with the Lord.
A large component of this journey is faith. You might think – ‘well duh, Lauren, isn’t that what believing in God is all about?’ Well yes, but let’s take an example like this, you have kidney stones (something that doesn’t happen often) but obviously when it does, it’s super painful. You go to the hospital and you see a doctor you’ve never met before. You don’t know him any better than you know a bar of soap. But do you trust him to surgically remove those kidney stones? I’d bet that you answered ‘yes’ within 2 seconds of reading this paragraph. Am I right? I mean, I’m the same way – I don’t typically question doctors. It just shows how we so easily put faith and trust into man but can so easily forget or lose faith in God – and for me, it’s because He sometimes falls from the forefront of my life, for whatever reason.
The second thing that the Lord put on my heart was all about the ‘storms’ we go through in life. We all have them. Whether it’s with family, work, friends, finances, fertility, you name it – we’ve all been through them. When you are called to a storm, how fast does your mind and heart instantly go to worry, stress, and anxiety? Fast huh? Ya’ll, I’m absolutely guilty of it. No matter how many times I tell myself, ‘give it to God’, I have moments where my anxiety trumps my faith in God. I relate storms in our lives to the spiritual journey that my pastor spoke about yesterday. In these battles, we can choose to be sad and worried, or we can give those worries to the Lord because He’s already handled them for us. Each battle has already been fought for each of us. We just have to use the resources that the Lord provides us to fight through those battles. And know that we will get through that storm with joy at the end. 2 Timothy 4:7 says, I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race and I have kept faith.’ That’s all I personally want to try and do in life – fight with the faith, love, grace, mercy and kindness the Lord provides us every single day, and finish with pure joy.
The third thing that stuck with me was your mindset. My pastor said it so eloquently, ‘The first truth that will enable us to avoid failure on our journey is single-mindedness.’ I associate this to a dream you may have – whether it’s starting your own business, going back to school, starting a new career, buying that dream car you’ve wanted (I could go on) – we all have dreams. In order to successfully meet that dream face-to-face, you must have that single-mindedness to get you there – the focus to beat obstacles so you get closer and closer to achieving that dream. Right? For example, say you want that dream car you’ve been eyeing your whole life – in order to get that car, you’re going to focus on how financially you can make it happen, you’ll research the heck out of it to see what options you want to get, and you’ll find the right dealership to make it happen in partnership with you. This is an example of single-mindedness – focusing on every aspect that will get you your dream car. That’s what we have to have on this spiritual journey with Christ – the single-mindedness to focus on Him and the resources and tools He’s providing us to get through life on His path successfully.
To close: At the end of the day, we can all live our lives the way ‘we’ want to live our lives. Or we can seek the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind and strength to overcome every battle He’s called us to. This is not easy ya’ll – it’s a struggle for me at times, but when I put it so black and white, my instant reaction is ‘I want to seek Him’ cause let’s be real – He can do everything to make my life, my mind and my heart the best it can be – I can’t.
If you’re going through a struggle or battle or just figuring out what path you want to go on in life, I hope this message has encouraged you as it’s helped me. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment.
I wish you all the best, most productive Monday!