Lesson 1: You can’t see what’s going on deep in someone’s life when you’re only looking at the surface. One of my dear, dear friends approached me with tears in her eyes and asked me for a hug; this was the beginning of a time of release for both of us. I offered to listen if she needed to talk, and she took me up on it, filling the next ten minutes with her secrets and confessions that almost no one else knew and that I had never expected. I’ve known her for most of my life, but I didn’t know that things like these were happening in her life. It made me wonder where I’d been. I consider us good friends, so how did I not see this? What could I have done to help if I had been paying more attention? I know now that no matter how well I think I know someone, there will be something I can’t see. That doesn’t mean I should try to find everything out or that I can’t trust anybody; I think it just means that I need to pray for the people I encounter. The people we think are well put-together could be falling apart. In middle school, before I was very close to Jesus, my classmates called me Smiley because they thought I was happy all the time; little did they know the battle going on inside me at that time! Pray for everyone you know, because you never know what they are facing right now.
Lesson 2: Obedience is not about what makes sense; it’s about love. I read “Perelandra” by C.S. Lewis this month, a very cool book! I love that Mr. Lewis disguised his philosophy books as fantasy! A line from it really spoke to me and what was going on in my heart at that time, so I’ll let it tell the story:
“In all these other matters what you call obeying Him is but doing what seems good in your own eyes also. Is love content with that? You do them, indeed, because they are His will, but not only because they are His will. Where can you taste the joy of obeying unless He bids you do something for which His bidding is the only reason?” -Dr. Ransom
Lesson 3: Giving in to temptation is so easy, but NOT worth it. I fell into an old sin that I thought was long gone, and it tore me apart inside. It’s the kind of sin that only hurts me and Jesus, but it hurt us greatly. I knew it would, but it was so easy! I wondered why, but I soon heard Jason Gray on the radio talking about his song “Remind Me Who I Am”; he said that in the times when he falls into sin, he realizes that he needs to be reminded who he is– remade, holy, God’s child. I saw that in myself. Feeling down on myself and not as passionate about loving God as I had been, it was easy for the enemy to get to me. But not anymore! I will attack him right back with my Bible and my faith in it!
Lesson 4: “He who is in me is greater than I will ever be, and I will rise.” I was having a stressful week, and one day in particular I let it all pile up inside so that I just had to cry. I didn’t know what to do. After I finished crying, I turned on the radio and sat down at the dining room table to study for a history quiz. I cried again, but this time, it was because I was being filled with joy. God played “Rise” by Shawn McDonald for me, right when I needed it to describe my feelings and give me hope! God knows what you’re going through. He sees you and understands, and is reaching out to you. Hold on to Him!
Lesson 5: When God calls you, it’s exciting, not scary, because HE is the one who makes it happen. I went to Acquire the Fire (a youth conference) with my beloved Bible study group! My favorite part was sharing it with them and seeing The Afters in concert. I’m not sure how to explain this lesson, but I’ll try! During worship I felt a BIG tug on my heart that told me, “You are meant to do this, too.” I knew that He meant performing music on stage, and that utterly terrified me! Don’t ask me how I understood all these things; I just did. I heard them in my spirit. Now, I absolutely love music! I’ve always known I was meant for it and it was meant for me, but I never considered actually performing it. At the most, I wanted to be a songwriter and recording artist, but I did NOT want to perform. That was the pipe dream I never thought would happen. I get so nervous to do anything in front of people, and singing is the biggie, because I don’t even know if I’m good! God had to work through all these doubts and assure me, “Tessa, I’m not going to ask you to do something too big for us to handle together.” He gives me the peace that, if He’s called me to do it, it will work! Now it’s not scary; it’s good news, because I know this dream can come true! It will be all Him, because I know I can’t do it myself. If you can accomplish your dream on your own, it’s too small. Dream BIG, because our God is big!
Lesson 6: God can’t fill what isn’t empty. I’ll admit: the above was the only thing I felt at Acquire the Fire. Everyone around me was so into it, and I tried to be, but I wasn’t. It just didn’t work that way. This is something I’ve struggled with before, and I always tried to figure out what I was doing wrong. Why didn’t I get filled like everyone else? It took the eyes of a youth leader to see the truth! A mom from my youth group named Judy, knowing I’d gone to Acquire the Fire, asked me how I liked it, and I had to reply honestly and say I was icy and didn’t feel anything (which I think is weird; I kept telling myself that, but as you just read, that wasn’t the case! Hm…). She said right away, “I don’t think you’re icy, you’re just good at getting fed on your own! You probably have your own conference in your bedroom everyday!” I had never thought of this! I’m just used to God’s presence and communicating with Him, so I don’t react the same? I think this calls for some action: if I’m full, then there are plenty of things in me that need to be taken out so there’s more room for Him! Thank you for the encouragement, Judy!