I think the theme of this past month has been simply learning how much I desperately need God; to heal, to find purpose, to grow and shape me into what he wants me to be….which I am also finding is a process that never stops. Just like the weather reminds us in the fall that some things must die to be made beautiful again, God often does the same thing in our lives; sometimes I still think about my life before moving here and think, “Man, my life was really good and so easy compared to being here. I had basically everything I wanted; a nice paycheck, great friendships, a car…it would be easy to go back…”. Things may have looked good in our lives before, but sometimes God needs to cut some things out of our lives to remind us what it’s all about and of what it was never supposed to be about.
God is shaping my identity in ways that are deeply uncomfortable yet at the same time comforting; I figure if God is allowing me the opportunity, He must think I’m capable of functioning in this way. When I was young, I used to think it was so fun to wrap my arms around my mom or dad’s leg and make them drag me around while they tried to walk…every now and again it feels like that’s what I’m doing to God; I know he wants to take me somewhere, but I’m slow to get off the ground sometimes, so I just cling on for dear life.
I have also been learning lately to function at a deeper level relationally. God is healing my ability to trust because of the incredible people he has placed in my life here. I have been amazed at the amount of transparency I’ve been able to have with the people around me that I’ve only known for a couple months, but I am finding that you can’t have shallow relationships in this kind of work or you will suffer in loneliness and stunt your capacity. We can go it alone and never accomplish things, or we can function in unity, where God can move in even the messiest of situations.
In the end, following God’s leading is always the right choice…especially when it’s not the easiest. A couple of months ago, I described it to a friend like this; it’s like standing on the edge of a cliff and listening to God say “Walk” as you stare at the end of the ground, seeing nothing below, so you close your eyes tight, and move your foot forward, but something amazing happens; ground appears below your foot…and the more you step, the more ground appears, one step after the other. You can’t see the next step, but God can, and of course you can look back and see the path you’ve walked along and think “Well, that wasn’t so difficult after all!” but every step forward still requires a certain amount of faith and trust. It’s a crazy journey, filled with so many amazing acts of God, and I can’t help but to be in awe of the incredible things God is doing. As He sustains me, my trust grows. As He moves, my hope grows.
In Matthew 7, Jesus tells us we will know people by their fruit. It says that a good tree cannot produce bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot produce good fruit. I used to think this meant you could look at how blessed by God they are, because surely, life is good for those who live righteously according to God. My dad and I used to joke, “You’d think working for God would get you a better paycheck…” but that fruit isn’t a good life. Rather it’s the fruit of the spirit; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Having fruit doesn’t mean your life is great or that you are great, but that these things; the fruit of the spirit are seen and displayed through your life consistently. When you serve God and allow him to work in your life, you will produce the fruit of the spirit, because we realize how much we don’t exist for ourselves; we realize who our lives exist for and to whom we belong.