Lesson 1: God has given me creativity to help me understand. On a day that I felt bizarre but didn’t know exactly what I was feeling or why, I impulsively grabbed a notebook, a pencil, and my pastels. No idea what I was going to do. Just started scribbling. This is what came out:Why did I end up making a bride watching the sunset? That was how I felt, but I didn’t realize it until I stepped back to look at my piece! Jesus used that. He knows my heart even when I don’t, and He took the time to show that to me by helping me draw. Feeling… feelings? Draw. Paint. Write. Make music. Do something creative, and God will show you what’s there.
Lesson 2: When God asks me to be somewhere, He’ll show up, too. I’ve mentioned quite a few times that God has called me to be at a certain place I don’t want to be. I show up, I do what I have to, and I leave; that’s almost always the extent of what happens. But one day, as I was doing my devotions before I left, what I read felt like it was about where I was going. It was almost like a prayer I frequently pray about that situation, so I read it with a prayerful heart. When I got there, I didn’t expect anything– but a little more than I usually expect. The entire time I was there, something different was in the air. Everyone was in better spirits than usual, the room was filled with God’s presence that whispered hope and love to all the lost people there! I was so grateful. Every time I get deeply discouraged, He shows Himself in a very obvious way, and how amazing is it that He goes with us in the places He asks us to be?!
Lesson 3: Standing by while my people are being attacked is NOT an option! I know this lesson needs to be shared. I will let the song Jesus played in my head during this experience tell the story, because things might be dangerous for those involved if I did it myself.
Lesson 4: God is a heart-changer, because He knows exactly how to do it. My brother (also known as my best friend!) has been against going to church camp ever since he shared a cabin with some awful boys the year he was entering middle school. Those boys don’t attend our church anymore, and he’s now entering high school, but my brother still had no interest in camp or youth events, which worried me. I knew he was solid, but I just worried about him; I’m his big sister and I love him! A few days before our middle school group left for camp, we came home to a message on our answering machine explaining that someone had paid my brother’s way to camp if he wanted to go. He was torn but blown away. Money wasn’t the reason he didn’t want to go, but now that someone else had paid for him to go, he didn’t feel like he could say no! He went to camp, he had a blast, he grew! Is there someone you have a hope for, but it seems like they’ll never be moved? God knows how to move them! Pray for them, wait, and see. Nothing is impossible.
Lesson 5: Forgiveness doesn’t need apology. It just needs honesty. Remember when I talked about forgiveness and my struggle with it last month? The lesson has grown! Me and the person I’ve forgiven planned a day together, to hang out and talk. She knew I needed to talk to her, but not what it was about. When I arrived, I intended to tell her immediately, but somehow it just didn’t work that way. We spent hours together, laughing and doing crazy things, and only a few times did I remember what I needed to do. Night fell before Jesus presented the right time. I told her the truth. She had no idea she’d hurt me, didn’t even remember doing what she did, and asked me to forgive her. I already had. We hugged, and she began telling me all these things that went against the way she hurt me in the past. Our time together was a gift and something only Jesus could be behind! If you’re battling unforgiveness right now, I hope this story encourages you. I found forgiveness in my heart when I sincerely asked Jesus to heal me of my unforgiveness, and if you truly want to let this go, He will take it from you. Me and my friend now have a more open relationship, and you see how I called her “my friend”? Forgiveness is not about waiting for the other person to apologize; it’s about being lovingly honest and letting Jesus work in you, because you cannot do this on your own.
Lesson 6: God will always show me love, even if it’s in a different way than I want. I’ll let my journal entry of July 23 take over from here:
Today, Jesus saved my life. I’ve been in a dangerous place lately, a place of rebellion and demanding that He love me the way I think He should. I questioned everything. The enemy tried to steal my faith; this morning he ran away screaming, because Jesus told me, “Not all have faith. But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one. And we have confidence in the Lord about you, that you are doing and will do the things that we command. May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.” (2 Thessalonians 3:3-5.) Every word was what I needed. I want His passionate displays of love; right now, He wants to show me love differently, but that love has not changed. I don’t need to FEEL loved. I just need Him.
He has taught me even more about that since then. To hear more, look for my upcoming post about church camp this year!