I am in awe of God’s amazing grace, mercy, and compassion now more than ever. For years, I have lived my own life not giving much thought to Him or others. When I accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior in my life, I still looked at my own life dwelling on failures rather than learning from them. I have backslidden several times through downward spirals of sin, especially of lust and pride. Christianity is not about being fixed, it is about God being present in the mess of our life so that He can work in and through us. In spite of everything that I have said and done, God has always been there and will always be there to lift me not only back up, but higher up in faith so that I may do works that I would not have done otherwise. I have learned that the only way up is to fall on my knees. The feeling of happiness will always come and go, but eternal joy comes from its acronym: Jesus, Others, You. Clearly, this goes against what we have learned in this world. It is natural to think of our own needs and wants first, after that Jesus and others usually alternate between 2nd and 3rd. Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” He does not change to fit our life or our needs. We have a tendency to make Jesus out to be what we want of Him so our faith is easy. It is time to know and follow the Jesus of the Gospels, to live on the narrow path, to repent of our own ways and to allow Him to work through us. When God is in our plans, the ordinary tasks of the day become extraordinary.

I will be doing missionary work for the first time and will be leaving the country for the first time. I will be sharing the privilege of walking a 12 foot wooden Cross through the towns and villages of Ireland for roughly two weeks. Matthew 16:24, Mark 8:34, Luke 9:23 all stress the importance of carrying one’s cross. Especially in Luke 14:27 where Jesus says, “Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” I know that this was figurative not meant to be taken in a literal sense, however, when I came across the mission opportunity, I felt that God led me to do that specific activity to be the very beginning of annual missionary works.

During the time of Jesus’ ministry, the cross was viewed as the most painful and humiliating death a person can receive. Today, the cross is viewed as a symbol of love, forgiveness, and grace. The problem is that we have a preference of leaving death out of the picture and that is where trouble begins. We must die to our self so that we may live for Jesus. All of our natural desires in this world mean nothing if it does not synchronize with the character of Christ. Being a Christian means to live outside of our comfort zones on a daily basis walking by faith, not by sight, trusting Jesus Christ with all that we are and all that we have. Even though the thought of this causes anxiety, Jesus provides us assurance in John 14:27 “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give isn’t like the peace the world gives. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” Any time we become apprehensive about our walk in faith, we should remember to put our trust in God acknowledging His power and love for us. We read in Psalm 46:1 “God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.” This is why we are encouraged in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to pray without ceasing.

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