[social_share / sc_id=”sc1″] As much as growing pains can hurt, I truly believe that these raw seasons make us more holy.
In hopes that my story might help you love Jesus more, as I have come to love Jesus more, I’ll share a bit of what I’ve learned in a very typical Type-A, planner, list-making fashion. Buckle up folks!
What I’ve Learned About Worry.
Friends and family have always told me that I’m a worrier, but I passed it off as more of a comment on my personality. Victoria worries, just like Victoria wears glasses and hates cats. This summer I was strongly convicted that my worry is not merely a personality trait. It is a sin. Yes, a blatant, certain, full-on sin. I worry about the past. About the future. About my schoolwork. About my job. I worry about how others perceive me. I worry about who I am. I worry about what I will be. I worry whether or not I’m good enough. Whether or not I’m doing things right. I worry when I get things wrong. I even worry over things I should completely trust like my relationship with Jesus. Though the Bible doesn’t have explicit directions about many of our day to day activities (Do I wear pants or a skirt? Do I go to this college or that college? Do I take this job or that job?), it does have explicit direction about worrying. Jesus says don’t do it!
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? ” (Matthew 6:25 ESV)
Christians serve a GOD who has magnificently conquered sin and death, as Grace Community Church has been learning through Revelation. We Christians were once sinners, then saved by grace, and now made saints. Ephesians 1:18-19 says we are to have, “the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power towards us who believe. ” (ESV) We are children of God, our future is secure. For those of us who struggle with the sin of over-analyzing, obsessive-compulsive, spirit-draining, emotionally-wrecked worry, seek the comfort you grasp in the arms of Jesus. There is no magic formula to apply or special prayer to pray. Simply run to Jesus, and stop worrying.
What I’ve Learned About Forgiveness and Repentance.
Theologians call Christ’s forgiveness the doctrine of expiation. In the Old Testament, Israelites would symbolically place their sins upon a goat and send it off into the wilderness. When Jesus died on the cross he actually took on our sins upon Himself. Jesus, who committed no sin, accepted all sin that we might be saved. That is expiation.
Why go on about theological jargon? Well, because when Jesus took our sins upon Himself, God imparted forgiveness to His people. We are forgiven. God does not see our sin when we are redeemed, but His precious Son. I suppose I’ve always believed this doctrine, which is why I am a Christian, but it actually hit home this summer. I realized that I’ve been repeatedly asking God’s forgiveness in my prayer life. I’m a Christian, I already have forgiveness! If you’re a Christian, you’ve been forgiven too.
What we need to be practicing is repentance. Repentance is an acknowledgement of sin as well as – most importantly – a turning from sin. Repentance means turning completely away, doing an about face, making a 180. Repentance is a lot more difficult than asking for forgiveness because it requires a commitment to action. Christians, we should cast off the old and put on the new. “Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you” Acts 3:19-20 (ESV)
What I’ve Learned About Grace.
Like that really catchy Donna Summer song from 1983, I’ve been working hard for the money this summer. To my delight, I scored a part-time job at a local coffee-shop. If you’ve been around me for five minutes you’ll learn that I love Jesus, love people, and love coffee. This job was perfect! I worked for a couple of months with no problem. But as temperatures began to rise, so did the frustration of my boss.
For whatever reason, we just didn’t jive. I had hoped to be able to work through our differences, but he didn’t quite see eye to eye. I was fired. I’ve never been fired before! I was frustrated that I had failed and hurt because I take rejection way too personally. One thing God was able to teach me through this situation was grace. I honestly have no hard feelings towards my former boss or the coffee-shop where I worked. There have been plenty of opportunities to bad-mouth him, but thanks to God I haven’t. Ephesians 2:8 reminds Christians, “for by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God. ” (ESV) Grace was given freely to me, so I should freely give it to others.
What I’ve Learned About Humility.
One night my boyfriend and I were hanging out and I asked a very dangerous question. “What has God used me to teach you? ” Seconds before I had answered my own question and, in my estimation, it was very glowing and lovely. I expected the same in return. Much to my surprise, he answered very bluntly. “Patience. Yeah, I think you’ve taught me patience. Like, you’ll ask me the same question a million times and that drives me crazy, but because it’s you I don’t get frustrated so God is teaching me patience. I’m not really a patient person. ” I rudely interrupted, “I don’t want to hear anymore. ”
Patience? God has been using our relationship to teach him patience? I’m the patience object lesson!? My pride definitely got the better of me in this situation. Obviously humility was a lesson needing to be taught this summer. Once I came to grips with the reality that I can try people’s patience, I realized how easily my pride was wounded. Actually, pride should be wounded. It should be mortally wounded. Please Lord, put us in our place! “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. ” (Philippians 2:3 ESV) 5) Focus on Jesus. Needless to say, I was schooled this summer. I have a funny feeling it actually wasn’t the first time and won’t be the last. How do all these lessons connect? Jesus. Focus on Jesus. That is the way to stop worrying, begin repenting, embrace grace, and become humble. Jesus. A lesson I should heed, this and every summer.[/sws_author_bio_ui]