Back in January, I went to Manhattan with a friend of mine. We went with the intention of exploring with out deadlines and discovering art as it came to us. We was a chance to be truly present in our lives. We popped into many different coffee shops and book stores as we wandered through the streets. I took pictures of MANY books that I wanted to read (I didn’t want to forget about them!). The dozens of pictures I took ranged from fiction, biographies, self help, business how-tos, you name it. I definitely reignited my desire to read. There was one book that stood out to me and I never realized would help me through a pivotal moment in my life.
9 months later I am deployed in Africa and I opened up that book. It is called, “The Burden Is Light : Liberating Your Life from the Tyranny of Performance and Success” by Jon Tyson. Before I left America for this deployment, I believe God brought me out here to know Him, not just know of Him. I believe He is preparing me for something greater in my life, but that means I have to change.
At first when I arrived in Africa I still tried to hid under the military achievement lifestyle by piling my schedule full of association meetings, volunteer hours, and extra duties. I kept myself busy and my mind off my burdens I carried. I think most of us do this where we hid and numb reality with addictions, entertainment, or achievements like me.
The book is amazing and I highly recommend that you read it if you are like me who struggles with finding their self worth through achievements. The one part I want to specifically bring up in this book is the chapter of Complacency/Passion. I dont consider myself a complacent person. To that means you are lazy, and I know I am not a lazy person. I thought I would breeze through this chapter like it doesn’t apply to me. Was I wrong…Jon references Manning, Furious Longing pg 75
“The wild, unrestricted love of God is not simply an inspiring idea. When it imposes itself on mind and heart with the stark reality of ontological truth, it determines why and at what time you get up in the morning, how you pass your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, and who you hang out with; it affects what breaks your heart, what amazes you , and what makes your heart happy.“
Jon challenges you by asking how can you recklessly abandon what you have for God. How are you using your finances, your time, resources, etc. I took a hard look at my actions and took inventory of what my daily habits and tendencies were. I knew that I wasn’t living a life of reckless abandonment, but what if I changed that?
So I decided to test it out.
This past week I wanted to see what kind of changes happened when I abandoned my own selfish ambitious and focused on God. We only tend to think of feeding ourselves the physical sense, but I approached it from a mental perspective. Here is what I did differently:
- Facebook/Pinterest for the Bible (What I lacked what I already have)
- Podcasts/Audio Books for Sermons (Learning about others to Learning about God)
- My music for Worship Music (redirected my attitude)
- Counsel of Friends for prayer (Counsel of God)
- Fiction books for Christian Books (testimonies)
“But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night.”
Psalms 1:2 NLT
I have been brought down to my knees in this deployment and I began a desperate search for the grace of God. Here is what happened when I ran to him instead of run away:
I Experience Clarity In Who God Is vs. Isn’t
God is a God of justice, however he is also full of grace. He is also merciful, kind, patient, tolerant, He keeps his promises, and does not change. My idea of God was a dictator. The relationship I saw was “if you scratch my back, I will scratch yours.” I saw Him as someone who wanted to take things away from me. The more I read the Bible, the more I learned all He wants to do is be close to us. He wants an intimate relationship with us.
“Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?”
Romans 8:32 NLT
That is how badly He wants to be with us. He didnt even spare His own son for us. Most people wont die even for a good person, but he gave up his most precious relationship (his Son) to have a relationship with us.
I remember when I was a very little girl, probably 6 years old. My 4 year old sister fell and slit open her chin. She needed to have stitches to close up the wound. I remember sitting in the lobby in the clinic hearing her screams pierce my ears. Right into my heart. It was the blood curling kinda wails of pain and terror. I got up and went outside of the clinic and cried because I was so upset over how much pain she was in. You know when someone you love is hurting it hurts you too? I am sure God went through something one billion times worse than that experience that I had. He gave up Jesus knowing that would happen.
That is love.
Discovered My Identity In Christ
In Jon’s book he gives you a list of affirmations of who your identity is Christ is. What Jon lists out is vastly different then the words I speak to myself on a daily basis:
“I am alone, I don’t belong, I am not liked, I am not good enough, I am a worthless, I will live a meaningless life, I wont prosper, I wont be successful.”
That’s hard to carry with you…You realize that your negative thoughts are not aligned with what the Word says about you. It says:
“I am called, I am chosen. I am a friend of God’s, I am His adopted son/daughter, nothing can separate us from the love of God”
“For we[a] are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.”
Ephesians 6:12 NLT
Pastor Miles of The Rock Church in San Diego California conducted a series based on Your Kingdom Identity. There are two realms in this world, the realm of God and the realm of the devil. You are fighting for one kingdom or the other. If you are on God’s side, you automatically become a target to the Devil.
“For as he thinks in his heart, so is he…” PROVERBS 23:7 AMP
“…He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies”
John 8:44 NLT
Be conscious of which voice you listen to.
I Experienced Peace
My pastor’s wife Jade brought up an excellent point from this verse in Psalms:
“Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and my God!”
Psalms 43:5 NLT
David does not deny his feelings, but he redirects his attention towards God. Just because you are Christian, does not mean that your life will become easy. In fact, you will suffer. However, God’s grace gives us the opportunity to redirect our attention towards Him and who He is.
During this week, I was suffering the consequences to a terrible mistake I made. I felt so much sorrow, grief, and regret. However because of God’s peace, I slept through the night. I cried and didnt know what was going to happen, but I didn’t have anxiety about what the future was going to be. I knew no matter what I would be okay. My mistakes wouldn’t change the plans that God has for my life. That is the power of God’s peace.
It is the same for you. It doesn’t matter what you have done, it is not too late or too much for God to handle. God’s grace is never ending.
I Became A More Positive Person
During this emotional roller coaster of a week, lets just say I did not want to be the happy/chippery person I usually am. Everyday I had to ask God to give me the strength just to get out of bed. God is our supplier. That includes the strength I but in a positive mood, he followed through. I was in a better mood, I interacted with strangers and said hello even when I didn’t feel like it.
My Passion Has A Purpose
People have always told me that I am a passionate person, but without purpose is useless. It is wasted energy. God has called us to love people. I had a lot of ideas of what my life should look like and what I wanted to do with my life. Now it had morphed into how can this fulfill God’s calling and bring glory to His Kingdom.
Now I am not saying that everything was fixed in one sitting. It was not like taking a magic pill, like SHABAM!
However, this week gave me a taste of the goodness of God. This has left me with a hunger within me for more of God. I know healing takes longer than just one week, but I never thought one week could affect me like it did.
My friends stop running away from Him and start running towards him. God loves you and has called you by your name.
“Grace to you and peace inner calm and spiritual well-being from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
1 CORINTHIANS 1:3 AMP