As with every summer that I don't teach, I am able to do a lot of introspection. During the school year, my thoughts are so scattered, and it's always nice to have a retreat during the summer to figure out at least a few of the many issues that plague me. This summer has thankfully been no different.
The first major theme that I have noticed in myself is how little I truly believe about God. For example, I was reading, "The one who comes to me I will by no means cast out," and "His compassions fail not. They are new every morning." As I read these beautiful words, I catch myself thinking, "How wonderful would that be if it were true..." That sounds quite sacrilegious, and it scares me that people will read it and judge me for even typing it out. But I must be honest. I live most days like the gospel is not true! I often live in so much fear that it cripples me and keeps me from loving and serving others (and worshipping God!) the way I am meant to.
I acknowledge that I believe in my inability to save myself, and the fact that only Jesus can reconcile me to God. Why, then, do I care so much more about how others view me than how my wonderful God has provided a way for me to actually know Him? My actions and entire life would look so different if I truly believed Scripture and applied it to my life daily.
My fears (which flesh themselves out in many facets of my life) would be helped so much if I simply believed that I will not be cast out! God has accepted me, because of Christ, and He will never leave me nor forsake me! His Spirit helps me in my weakness! His steadfast love never ceases! Nothing can separate me from Him! How freeing these truths are! God, help me to believe. Give me faith that cannot be shaken. What a God-honoring and fulfilling life I can lead, if these are the things I choose to dwell on, instead of my fears.
The second theme of the summer for me is that I don't really know how to read my Bible well. I recently realized that until I joined TCC a few years ago, most of the Bible studies I had been a part of in my life were topical, or randomly chosen sections of Scripture. I think this is why I have such a hard time knowing where to start reading, or how to diligently work through a particular book or section of Scripture on my own. I am thankful for understanding my need for this, because all the things I mentioned earlier will be greatly affected by my ability to read and understand God's word. Reading the Bible consistently instead of just randomly will enable me to see overarching themes of God's great plan, which I think will increase my faith.
My favorite hymn, How Firm a Foundation, keeps coming to mind. I put it on my blog a lot, but I think that's ok, because it's just that good :) Here it is again!
How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent word!
What more can He say than to you he hath said -
To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?
Fear not, I am with Thee, oh be not dismayed,
For I am thy God, and will still give thee aid.
I'll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by my gracious omnipotent hand.
When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not overflow.
For I will be with thee thy trouble to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress. ***Side note from me: No life situation is wasted!***
When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace all-sufficient shall be thy supply.
The flame shall not harm thee, I only design
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.
The soul that on Jesus doth lean for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to his foes.
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I'll never, no never, no never forsake.
I'm quite thankful and encouraged right now :) Thank you God.