It has been 365 days since my very first vlog/blog post! Wow, has God been faithful or what? I’d like to share in this post how the Lord has worked in my heart, mind, and life the past two months! I hope this challenges and encourages you.
Do you like to plan out your life? Do you seek to control each step of your day/week/year/life? Are you prone to bring your plans to the Lord and ask Him to bless them instead of asking for His plans? If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, then you and I are in the same boat. I could not tell you how many times I have begged the Lord for this, that, or the other and not given up until He responded with a “yes” to my request. And whenever He didn’t, I would be frustrated and bitter towards Him, doubting His perfect provision and care for me. Unfortunately friends, this is not a situation of a long ago KariAnne, this is the battle I face today.
A.W. Tozer once famously said, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” I would piggyback off this quote in saying that how we think about God also determines how we live our lives. The scenario I explained above is a thought process I have seen time and time again in my own life and one that I have recently recognized as sinful and dishonoring to God. While we are encouraged in Scripture to not just aimlessly wander through life, there is a great caution that comes with planning out our steps. Proverbs 16:9 says, “The heart of a man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” This verse reminds me that I can take all the time and energy to plot out my life pursuits and goals, but ultimately, the Lord is the one who directs my every move. Realizing this truth causes me to stop and ask, “Well, who is God that I should let Him plan out my life? Wouldn’t I do a much better job since I’m, ya know, me?” This questioning and prideful response is one that stems from a heart that has a misunderstanding of God and, honestly, a certain amount of unbelief in His power and love.
Unbelief is likely the most common and certainly the most dangerous sin. All throughout Scripture, God warns His people against unbelief and makes it clear that those remaining in unbelief when the Lord returns will be eternally punished for their unbelief. Lack of trust in God, a desire to take control, or even discontentment stem from a heart that does not truly believe God is who He says He is (case and point – unbelief). That’s a scary thought. Adam and Eve’s original sin boils down to unbelief and from that first failure to believe God’s words over the lies of Satan, all humankind is plunged into the continual stream of temptation to doubt God. One small seedling of doubt, if not chopped up immediately, can grow into a mess of second-guessing God. When the time came for me to move from Hutchinson, KS to Raleigh, NC I was frustrated and quite angry with God because He was taking me away from what I loved and what was good, to something new and hard. I saw God’s perfect provision of a place to live, a job I know how to do, a team I work well with, and FULL monthly support; but because I didn’t really believe the Lord was moving me at the right time in the right way, I remained in a cloud of unbelief that kept me from seeing my God for who He really is. If I didn’t have the Holy Spirit’s conviction to 1. cling to God’s Word and 2. think rightly about my circumstances, then I would still be wallowing in self-pity and denial of God’s abundant blessings.
- Clinging to God’s Word
Y’all, I am the poster child for “you can spend your whole life growing up learning facts about God and not truly believe Him.” I have no doubt in my mind that God used the truth proclaimed in my early years to penetrate my heart and bring me to repentance and salvific belief midway through high school. Because of God’s predetermined plan, Christ’s work in His life/death/resurrection, and the power of the Holy Spirit within me, I believe my soul is sealed for eternity through the blood of Jesus (amen!). However, I also have no doubt that my sinful flesh and spiritual struggle have tempted me to believe subtle lies that have often taken my focus off truth and on to how I feel. My Biblical Counseling training has opened my eyes in a whole new way to the complete and total sufficiency of Scripture. God’s Word is the only source of absolute truth since God Himself is the author and He is perfect in wisdom. Since His perfection infiltrates every aspect of His being perfectly, He is unable to lie and therefore can only speak what is true. In the Bible, we have the very words of God written down for us to read, understand, love, and live out! We can trust God’s Word amidst all the lies of this world because it is perfect. And, we can know that all we need to live a life that is honoring to Him is found in His Word because He says so in passages like 2 Timothy 3:16 and 2 Peter 1:20-21.
All this being said, I have been learning the past few months that the only way to fight unbelief is to know the truth and choose to believe it. You can be sitting on an airplane with a parachute under your seat and KNOW it can save your life. But, if the plane goes south and you just say “I know all about the parachute” but you don’t actually put it on, trust it, and jump out of the plane, then you don’t really BELIEVE it can save you. Rubber has to meet the road at some point. It’s the same way in my pursuit of loving and living like Christ: if I simply know a lot about Christ and His Word but don’t actively cling to and trust it as my sole source of truth, then I don’t really believe it – I don’t really believe God. I’ve committed myself to studying God’s Word, praying through it, memorizing it, and meditating on it, because the only way that I can believe God is to know how He has revealed Himself and trust it.
- Thinking rightly about my circumstances
Okay, so this one seems easy and maybe I’m the only one who deals with this…but thinking the truth in a world full of lies is hard stuff. I didn’t really think I struggled with this until about a month ago. There’s something living alone, with only your thoughts, that really makes you see how quickly our minds can wander away from truth. I could sit in my empty apartment for hours on end and think absolutely whatever I want. Sometimes, I do this. Some days I get so discontent with my my surroundings, frustrated with people, or tired from emotional baggage that I just want to tune out the world and go into KariAnne-land. This is not a magical place and definitely not the happiest place on earth. Living in my own flesh-indulging, sin-stained mind is a dreadful existence. Not only was my soul corrupted by the Fall, but my mind was also diluted by self-worship and prideful lust. My heart without God is at best a dark hole of destruction. Before Christ transferred me into the Kingdom of His Beloved Son, He has to literally rescue me from the Domain of Darkness. Praise our great and merciful and gracious God for not leaving me in the depths of despair, but granting me new life in Christ. “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).
What does this new life mean? I have a transformed heart and MIND! Now, by the power of the Spirit working within me, I can think like God thinks and live like Christ lived. My mind is now given the choice to dwell on what is good and godly instead of gross and grimey. Philippians 4:8-9 tells believers to think on what is true and right. This means to do away with lies like, “If God truly loved me He would give me what I want” or “I know what’s best, so He should do what I ask!” Thoughts like this lead to a heart of deep seeded unbelief and actions that treat God like a cosmic vending machine that will crank out whatever we want if we find the right combination of prayers and penance. NO WAY JOSÈ. In her book, “Loving God with All Your Mind”, Elizabeth George describes our Christian lives as a bucket that God wants to fill so we can enjoy Him and enjoy life. She explains this by saying “[God] wants to fill your life with Himself so He can use it to glorify Him, to bless you, and to enrich the lives of others…But you must also realize that every wrong thought you think – thoughts that are not true and real – is like a hole in your spiritual bucket.” Those holes cause God’s goodness and blessing to drain out of us and make us less fruitful and joyful in this life He has given to us. What a powerful analogy! The chapter in this book on thinking the truth about the future really hit me the most though…She explains that worrying about the future and thinking I must have it all figured out today is a waste of energy. She encourages her readers to “use your energy to draw close to God in the present and to train your thoughts to think about and deal with things that are true and real…right now!” I need to take every thought captive and trust the truth of God’s Word to fight the lies of my sinful heart.
I realize this is quite a lengthy post and I apologize for the wordiness…but I’m not really sorry because it was important for me to help you see how God has been revealing my sin and Himself to me in these first few months of missionary work with TWR MOTION. It hasn’t been easy, but it has been good. It is not what I expected, but it is better. I’m not sure I would choose these trials again, but I would not change them. God is always faithful and always good to His own because His character won’t let Him be anything less!
***For more updates on my first few months as a full-time missionary with TWR MOTION, life here in North Carolina, and how you can be praying in the coming weeks, please watch my vlog that can be found at this link: VLOG SEVEN
always for the Master,