Encouraged

3 11 2011

Today I woke up with such a thankfulness in my heart. Thankful that God is working in ways I cannot see, but are beginning to blossom, so I can see glimpses here and there…

Ever since I listened to that one sermon, on Christ’s agony our joy, my heart has been so desperately hungry for more of the Word. Now that things have clicked, and make sense after being calloused the last 24 years to the gospel, because it was “just what I knew”, there is this new hunger and drive to learn more about Christ, and what He did and to share that.

The last year and a half, when I was at that little church in San Antonio, all I did was fight against what I was being taught. I was so angry and fed up with ‘the Christian people’ and church and different experiences I had had, that I just wanted to be angry and go against all that I knew because I had been hurt. Now that my perspective has shifted, and my eyes and heart have been opened to the gospel, I am going through and finding sermons on everything I was against these last few years. I am finding sermons left and right about things I would argue.

One of my biggest arguments was “I don’t need the church to be a Christian. I can do it on my own.” I had built up this ‘one-man army’ mentality that I didn’t need anyone or any church or Christian organization to have a relationship with Christ. In some ways, yes that is very true. Your relationship with Christ is based upon you and Him. Nothing and no one else can make that relationship work. It is a very personal, intimate relationship between you and Christ. But I had taken that thought and gone way too far with it. I didn’t think I needed anyone because I knew I was deep in sin, and I didn’t want to have to commit to anything because commitment requires discipline from the church, accountability from people who want to pour into your life, and commitment requires work and people calling you out. But what the church also does, is love you through it. Or they should. All that stuff sounds bad, unless you do it in a Biblical and loving way.

I listened to a sermon once again, by Erik Raymond, called Why You Should Love the Church. This was such a rich and convicting sermon for me! The last 2 or 3 years I have done nothing but fight against committing and going to church and finding a place to put my membership in. I listened to this sermon and was so so excited about it!

Now that I am in a new city, with new people… it is hard to find that ‘like-minded’ group. Christianity falls along many different perspectives. And sometimes it’s just hard to find people who think closer to how you do. Especially since my perspective is changing quite drastically.

I had a phone conversation with a good friend the other day, and I was struggling a lot. This struggle was different than any other struggle I’ve had. I used to feel all my struggles were these big… physical destructive kind of struggles. But this one was rooted directly to my heart. And I haven’t felt like I’ve struggled like this very much before.

I was struggling with the fact that I don’t have a church, and for once in my life, I am truly and deeply craving it. I’m craving fellowship. I’m craving to listen to something that someone else is, and to discuss and see how it is applicable to my life. I crave to encourage others in their walk, and be encouraged in mine in our day in and day out lives. I crave to worship the Lord with the body and to break bread with like-minded people. I’m craving to pray for others and to watch the Lord work through that. I’m craving to hear how God is working in the lives of the people around me.

I. am. just. craving. the. Church.

The ‘one-man army’ mentality is gone. I cannot do this on my own. I cannot hold myself accountable to sin and struggle. I cannot push myself when I am alone when I’m being super lazy. I cannot hold myself well to discipline without the encouragement of others. I cannot learn what I need to know if I have no one teaching me.

Yes, I can seek and pray and ask  God and continue to grow, but we also need to be surrounded by like-minded who can also push and challenge you.

I tried hard to swallow my tears, and not show my discouragement as I talked with my friend, as I struggled with the fact that I do not have a church here. I do not have a Bible study or anything set in stone that I can be connected with and live life together.

This morning, I am thankful for the job that I have. It is a perfect place to witness even though it’s so incredibly hard. I tend to find many of my guests are Christians, and I love having conversations with them and meeting them. Last night a girl and guy came in, and I recognized her from a Bible study that I had tried when I first moved here but haven’t been able to go back since I started working. I went and took them from their table and asked if they wanted to come sit in my section, and she was so excited! We started talking, and she just started telling me how she is looking for a small group and just really wants to get involved with a smaller group and her heart just needs it. I told her that’s crazy because the night before another mutual friend of ours and I were talking about the exact same thing. There are now five of us looking for a small group. I’m having coffee with Naomi tonight, she’s a sophomore in college and just so precious! I cannot wait to hang with her and encourage her in her college time.

The Lord is stirring our hearts and answering the prayers and needs/desires of our hearts. I am excited and so encouraged about this time! Time to step it up, and start leading and stop doing all the following and waiting for people to serve me. My heart is beginning to hunger to use my gifts whatever they may be…

“…that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge….” Colossians 2:2-3

Praying that we can get a small group together, and that I can love and encourage the girls of Canton and that Christ will remain the center of my life. That I may boast in no one but Him…praying for my time with Naomi tonight, the Christ will be the center of our conversation and that it will be glorifying to Him!

And, if you get a chance to read this post, by one of my absolute favorite bloggers, please do! It is also on prayer. I read this after I wrote my post, and my heart was once again, so grateful and it seriously brought tears to my eyes, having the faith of a child, and the amazing ways God works in our lives day in and day out…

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