Lesson 1: God just wants some willingness. Every three months, my karate school has a test/recital to show the parents what everyone has been learning as well as to present students with their new belts. The infamous black belt test, in which the hardworking brown belts see if they are ready to be black belts, is the most exciting part of the weekend, full of hugs and tears and… well, sweat. I go every time to grade as well as encourage when I can. This June, however, God asked me to do something totally different and out of my comfort zone: to pray with the students before they took their black belt test. I kept asking for confirmation, and He kept giving it to me! There was no way out; He really did want me to do this! The day of the test, I was so afraid, but I knew that this was what He wanted me to do, so I was ready to use whatever opportunity He gave me. What were the first words I heard when I entered the building? “Tessa! We’re gonna pray before the test, do you want to come?” BOOM! Mind blown! We prayed together about the test (and the boy who refused to pray with us), and the whole time I was just rejoicing. All God wanted was my willingness! I didn’t have to do anything but be open to the plans He had. He showed me that He is the one who makes everything happen; I am simply His little girl whom He lets help a little and who gets to be wide-eyed with the results.
Lesson 2: Big moments don’t always happen where God calls you; sometimes you just need to be there. There is a place God has asked me to be that I really don’t want to be. I’ve listened, I’ve stayed, I’m there faithfully, but sometimes I come close to tears when I’m there. Sometimes I just want to leave despite God’s clarity. I continue to ask Him when I can leave, and He continually says, “Not yet.” I can’t see anything that I’ve done by being there, but Jesus has brought to my attention that maybe that’s okay. Maybe my job is simply to be there, to be faithful in doing what He’s asked me to. In moments when I’m almost ready to leave no matter what, He calms me down and sends me encouragement. An example? One day I showed up to show up, ready to do my time and go home as fast as I could. However, before I left I saw a girl who looked like she’d been crying and was on the verge of crying again. She began talking to one of her friends, and for some reason my feet were as good as glued to the floor; I couldn’t leave this alone. I didn’t know what to do, so I just hugged her. She gasped and started laughing, that laugh many of us release when we’ve finished crying. I’d prayed the night before that He would show me something I could do there, and He did! Please take this as my encouragement to stay where God asks you to be, even if you hate it. He always has a good reason.
Lesson 3: Passion is wonderful, but sometimes it’s just not your job. This might be a little confusing to you, but I’ll try to explain it the best I can! Have you ever prayed so hard and so frequently for someone that God has given you a glimpse of His love for them? No matter what they do, you only see them with love? He has done that for me with three people so far, and it is a hard but incredible blessing– hard because these people give me reasons NOT to love them, incredible because I still do! One of these three people I have been confused about for years because he is a boy my age. I have a deep desire to see him grow closer to Jesus and become genuine instead of masked, and I’ve always wanted to have a hand in helping him get there, but God recently showed me a little glimpse of how He views this. He told me that it’s good of me to want to help him, but that it’s not the call He’s placed on me. I will not be the one. He loves that I want to help this boy, but it’s simply a job for someone else. He did the same thing to King David in 1 Kings 8: David had this passion to build a temple for the Lord, but God told him that it wasn’t his job. Instead King Solomon, David’s son, would be the one to build this temple. It wasn’t wrong for David to want this; it was a good thing to have a passion for, God told him You did well that it was in your heart! But Solomon was the one meant to do it, the one who could. David didn’t do anything wrong to get this as a result; His call was simply different.
Lesson 4: Love is not necessarily romantic. This piggybacks off of Lesson 3, about the boy I mentioned. Every time I see him, I feel fluttery, and I used to wonder if we would marry someday. This month Jesus showed me the truth through a conversation with a few friends: he is not the one I’ll marry. We are different spiritually, and if we married he wouldn’t be the leader of our family in that way. I refuse to let that be my future! No matter how well we know each other, no matter how he makes me feel, no matter how many times I dream about him at night, we will not be for each other. Like I said before, God has given me love for him and my job is to fearlessly love him, so I was kind of amazed how well these two realities go together: I will not marry him, and I love him. This works! I understand it now! As long as I realize that my feelings are simply feelings (he IS cute and sweet!) and pray for God’s eyes, I can look at this boy and see nothing but a friend and someone God is trying to reach. I can love him, and I don’t have to be in love with him to do so!
Lesson 5: Unforgiveness is like adding to a sack of rocks on my back with each memory. This lesson is not quite over yet, but I wanted to share what I know of it so far. Have you noticed that a lot of the new songs on Christian radio have been about forgiveness? Well, that’s God’s doing. He started poking me, revealing to me that I’ve been carrying a bitter grudge for a few years now. I’ve been stuck in anger and hurt, and the person who caused it doesn’t even know. When I brought it up as a prayer request at my beloved Bible study, our leader (we call her Grandma Edie) asked me, “Does she[the person who hurt me] love you?” I answered yes. She then said, “Maybe you should tell her, then. If she loves you, she will care about this.” I wondered if I should take her advice. A few days later, I asked a leader in my youth group for her thoughts, and she agreed that talking to my friend would help, even save our relationship. I still wasn’t sure, but when I impulsively read a devotional from “My Utmost for His Highest” by Oswald Chambers, it spoke as if it knew my situation! It gave me a Biblical view of this, and encouraged me: talk to this person NOW! God has healed me of my anger and feeling like a victim, and as soon as I get to see this person, I am talking to them– NOT to vent my rage and pain, but to ask for forgiveness for hanging onto this silently for so long, and to make our relationship honest again. So scared, but so excited, and most of all: relieved of the burden! Grandma Edie told me that my grudge was like adding to a heavy bag of rocks on my back every time I remembered what was done to me, and she couldn’t have described it better. Jesus took this burden from me, and showed me that if HE has forgiven this person, I have no right to hold a grudge!