Be bold

Throughout my life, I’ve been surrounded by Christian friends, coworkers and family. Insulation makes being a a Christian easy. There’s no one to make you think or to challenge your beliefs. I got comfortable–too comfortable.

Confession: the last time I shared my faith was in high school (and it didn’t end well).

I find sharing my faith uncomfortable. My excuses are numerous: I don’t really know any non-Christians. I’m a people pleaser–I don’t want to offend anyone. I don’t know Scripture well enough to present the Gospel. What if I can’t answer their questions? I’m more of a “share my faith by my actions” kind of person.

On Sunday, J.D. Greear preached about sharing the Gospel and being bold about our faith (listen to his sermon on Acts 4:23-37 here).

I was convicted to say the least, but even so, I really couldn’t think of any opportunities to share my faith. So, I began praying for opportunities and for boldness when those opportunities arose.

This afternoon, I opted to hang out at the mall for a while after work and write some cover letters (for some reason, I work best when I’m tuning out the world).

While I was there, a mall employee that I’ve chatted with a few times came over and sat with me while he ate his dinner.

Conversation flowed freely as we talked about our families, backgrounds and future plans. We talked about D.C. for a little bit, which oddly enough (or not so oddly if you know about my experiences in D.C.), the conversation turned to church.

Talking about church led to a conversation about faith and Christianity.

I’ll be honest. It was rocky. I fumbled at the beginning. I didn’t present the Romans Road or the Four Spiritual Laws.

I mainly asked him a lot of questions about what he believes. I tried to make sense of what he believes and place it side by side with what the Bible says.

He believes there is a G/god, that sin exists and that your soul continues to exist after you die. He doesn’t believe that we need to be reconciled to God or that we need a Savior.

God gave me boldness and he gave me the words to say (sometimes I didn’t even realize what was coming out of my mouth until I had already said it).

I keep thinking of things that I should have said and questions that I should have asked. He still doesn’t believe that Jesus is the Messiah. He’s not coming to church with me on Sunday. He didn’t pray to accept Christ.

BUT

I obeyed. He heard the Truth. We parted as friends. 

God is good.

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Struggle Bus

There’s a phrase circulating popular culture known as the “struggle bus.” It’s used when someone is having a rough day or just can’t get things right.

Struggle Bus [struhg-uhl • buhs] noun – a metaphor for a difficult situation, used when things aren’t going your way

Sentence: Man, I’ve been riding the struggle bus all day long; I haven’t been able to get anything right!

Well, folks, not only am I riding the struggle bus, I am driving it. I have wrecked it (literally) and I have popped it’s tires (literally), yet I just can’t seem to get off.

I don’t know what God’s trying to teach me in this “real job-less, boyfriend-less, kinda lonely, car destroying, soon to no longer be living on my own” phase of life, but I wish He’d just go ahead and teach it to me already.

Tonight, I am just so tired. Of uncertainty. Of waiting. Of unexpected problems. Tonight, I want to know why I can’t get my life together or why I can’t seem to drive a car.

Yes, I know God’s timing and will are best. Yes, I know that He is good and I trust Him. I am far from losing my faith, but I still can’t help being frustrated.

In April, I wrote about how I was broken into pieces. In August, I wrote about how I was rejected. Today, I am struggling.

 

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Rejection

Last week, I found THE internship that would make my dreams come true. It was in the perfect place. It was in the right field. It even came with the possibility of a full-time job at the beginning of the year. (It was even paid!) I didn’t apply for the internship; they approached me. I had nowhere to live, but the perfect place with great amenities came along (and the move in date was even the right date).

I thought that maybe, just maybe, God was finally putting everything in place for me to move from this season of waiting. I thought that maybe He was finally turning this time of “what-ifs” and “I don’t knows” into something new and exciting.

But today, I was rejected.

I am discouraged. It doesn’t seem to matter how many jobs I apply for, how out-of-this world my resume or cover letter is, or how qualified I am for the position: the answer is always “no.” That’s disheartening.

I’m not the only one who’s faced rejection, though. On my way home from work, I was reminded of an article I read a few weeks ago by my favorite author, Robin Jones Gunn.

When Robin was my age, she wanted to be a missionary. In fact, she applied for a full-time missions position as a laundry supervisor in Kenya.

She was rejected.

Instead, she worked with the girls in her church’s youth group. It was there that she met her husband AND was inspired to write a book, which turned into several books, which turned into The Christy Miller series, which turned into several series.

I have personally seen how The Christy Miller series had an impact on my life, my best friend’s life, and even the life of a dear friend who is currently serving as a missionary overseas.

When I was in middle school, I devoured Robin Jones Gunn’s Christy Miller series. I didn’t just read these books once or twice, either; I picked up them up again and again. In fact, this 22-year-old college graduate still picks those books up from time to time. Christy, Katie, Todd, Doug and Tracy were much more than just characters — they were role models and friends.

My friends and I aren’t the only ones whose lives were impacted by Robin’s books. Robin tells this story in the article:

As a result of writing so many books I was invited to teach at an international writer’s conference in England. At lunch the first day I met a young woman named Wambura. She quietly told me that she had read the Christy Miller books when she was in high school.

“You did?” I was intrigued. “Where did you grow up?”

“I’m from Nairobi, Kenya. Your books were very popular with the girls at my school.”

My eyes grew wide. “You’re from Kenya? I have to tell you something. When I was your age, I applied for a position as a Laundry Supervisor in Nairobi.”

“So you have been to Nairobi.”

“No. I was turned down for the position. I was crushed. I thought that was the best way I could serve God.”

Wambura smiled. She spoke a truth over me that day that changed my life.

“Robin, you did not need to come to Africa to wash our clothes. God sent your stories and they have washed our hearts.”

I may never write an award-winning Christian young adult fiction series, but I do know that He has better plans for me, just like he had better plans for Robin.

So even though I am discouraged, I am encouraged.

I know that God has me where I am right now for a purpose. He will use me in HIS way and in HIS timing. His plan is far greater than mine.

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:21

Jeremiah 29:11-13

“For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.”
~Jeremiah 29:11-13

Jeremiah 29:11 is one of those verses that I tend to gloss over. Having gone to private, Christian schools throughout my entire life, I know Jeremiah 29:11 about as well as I know my ABCs. It’s the verse that gets pulled out in every turning point in life, as well as every tribulation.

However, as much time as I have spent pouring over verse 11, the rest of the chapter often gets left out. It’s part of a letter written to the Israelites while they were living in captivity in Babylon.

I particularly like verses 12 and 13. I feel like they complete verse 11.  Verse 11 shows God’s goodness and his provision for His people. However, the next two verses outline our response to Him.

“Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.”

Our response to God’s plan for us is to come to Him and to communicate with Him with “ALL your heart.” Also, it says, “You WILL seek Me and find me.”

Earlier I mentioned that this is a verse I tend to gloss over. If that’s the case, why did I just write five paragraphs about it? Well, sometimes God takes those things that you gloss over and shoves them right in front of your face so you can’t ignore it any more.  Well, that pretty much happened tonight.

You see, I’m kind of at a place where I don’t really know what God’s plans are for me. I kind of do… at least I know the basics of what I feel He’s called me to do. But the details are fuzzy. Let me tell you, I hate fuzzy details. I like knowing where I’m going, when I’m going, what I need to wear and what will be served for dinner a month in advance (okay, maybe that’s a slight exageration), but I love knowing details. Just last week, a friend and I were supposed to go to his family’s lake house for the Fourth of July. The problem was, he didn’t know when they were planning on leaving until he woke up the morning of (only 20 minutes before they decided to leave, might I add). Boy did that ruffle my feathers! And that was just plans for one day.

Sometimes I’m tempted to get frustrated with God and cop an attitude with Him. This is when the last two verses kick in. Rather than being angry, I must choose to pray and to search for Him with all my heart. And then, and only then, will I feel peace. Not necessarily peace that comes from knowing what His plans are, but peace that comes from steady, enduring trust in Him.

His plans aren’t always what I want them to be. Oftentimes, I find that hard to understand. Sometimes so much so that I cling tighter to what I want, making it more painful when God has to pry it from me. But God knows far better than I.  In fact, as Garth Brooks said, “Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.”

“Sometimes I thank God, for unanswered prayers
Remember when you’re talkin’ to the man upstairs
That just because he doesn’t answer doesn’t mean he don’t care
Some of God’s greatest gifts, are unanswered prayers.”
~Garth Brooks, “Unanswered Prayers”