Feb 26, 2010

...One Month Later

Hey everyone!! I just realized once again how long it has been since I've updated my blog. I have a good excuse though, I promise! It has been an amazing semester so far, but it has also been crazy busy. Over the last month God has taught me so much. I can't wait until I have time to share it all with you! But for now, I'll just catch you up on the past week or so.

Last week was insane! I had so much homework due between Thursday & Friday that I was only sleeping about 4-5 hours at night if I was lucky. On Friday I had a huge test in World History, so I stayed up until about 2:30 am studying with one of my roomies. We had a lot of fun & the test went well, but for the past month I've had to drive home on the weekends, so its kind of hard to drive that far alone when I'm tired. It's about a 4 1/2 hour drive, so last Friday night I definitely spent more time driving than I did sleeping the night before. I was sooooo tired I almost pulled off at a truck stop to sleep for a few minutes, but my fear of creepers made me decide that probably wasn't the best idea. By the time I made it home I was almost  delirious. So if you talked to me at all last weekend & I didn't make very much sense, now you know why. Lol! But I made it, & I had a great weekend =)

Sunday afternoon my mom & I went to a friend's house to have dinner with a missionary family from Cambodia. It was a huge blessing just to talk to the Fruin family & hear about their ministry. Cambodia is still suffering from the effects of a genocide that took place about 30 years ago. They shared the story of a man in their church named Tirah that had come to know the Lord; his family had to travel 200 miles on foot to escape from the horrors that were taking place near their home during the time of the genocide. Although Tirah & his mother made it to safety, his eleven year old brother was brutally murdered. It was such a challenge to me to see the boldness that Tirah now has in sharing the gospel. As a new believer, he has such a passion for the gospel  that was incredible to see.
I had the opportunity to talk with Mrs. Fruin for a while & that was really encouraging. Her love for the Lord & for the Cambodian people was so evident.
They also have a son who is planning on majoring in music in college, but he is taking a year off to teach piano lessons back in Cambodia. He's a cool guy & it's always fun to talk with a fellow music geek. Lol.

Ok, so this past week was all kind of a blur, but I'll do my best to try & make at least a little bit of sense out of it.

I'll just start with Tuesday night since I don't even remember what happened on Monday. My roommate Liz is really great with cosmetology, so she cut & dyed my hair. It was so much fun & I was very ready for a change. Here's a before & after picture...even though I hate pictures of just me!! Lol. I think it's so awkward to be all alone in a picture...anyways, here it is:
It's really different, but I like it a lot =)

Wednesday in chapel we got to see our school's chancellor, Doc O (Aka, Dr. Olila), for the first time in a while. He had surgery last week, so it was great to see him up & around. He is an amazing guy; he is so wise, but he also has a hilarious sense of humor. Anyways, he & our president, Dr. Olson, announced that they were going to give the student body a gift. They had noticed how many students were just extremely exhausted & many people were sick as well, so they decided to cancel Friday's classes to give us all a day of rest! Oh my word, I can't tell you what a relief that was. It was definitely of the Lord because I had no idea how I was going to get everything done this week. So I was able to drive home a day early, which was such a blessing!

Wednesday night was not quite as happy. Emilee, one of my best friends, had a severe allergic reaction to something & she had to be rushed to the hospital in an ambulance. It was pretty scary & she was really shaken up. They are doing tests to find out what she is allergic to, but as of right now they still don't know. So please be praying for her if you think of it.

Last night Northland put on a dinner theater production of Prince Caspian from the Chronicles of Narnia series. Although I really wanted to see it, I wasn't sure if I was going to stick around since I still had a four hour drive ahead of me. But a very nice guy asked me to go with him, so I decided to stay =) Don't worry, I haven't started dating or anything without filling all of you in. For right now, we are just friends...& not even FWAP. Lol! What? You don't know what a FWAP is? We have a teacher here that has nicknamed the "just friends" stage as "Friends With A Purpose." =) So anyways, that was my week. I drove home last night after the play & I got in at around 2:30 am, but it was a fun drive since this time I had a friend with me.

So yeah, that was my week! I hope that I didn't bore you guys to tears. If I did, I am sorry & I suggest that you go reward yourself with chocolate or something. Haha! I'll have to try to be more faithful in posting so that I don't have to write a novel size post just to recap. Lol! Thanks for stopping in. I hope that you have a wonderful & restful weekend.

Psalm 57:9-11 "I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations. For your steadfast love is great to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth!"

Feb 2, 2010

Lessons from the Cross

Recently I have been praying about something I've been struggling with. Maybe it seems like a little bit of an oxymoron unless you've been there yourself, but I was praying about prayer. I've had some difficult situations take place in the lives of myself, some of my friends, & also my family members lately. I know that in Matthew 5:45 it says that "rain falls on both the just & the unjust" & also in James 1:2 it says that we are to count it all joy when we fall into trials because the testing of our faith produces patience & perseverance. So I know that God has a purpose in every hardship that He allows, but I was kind of struggling because it almost seemed like God was just refusing to answer prayer. I hate seeing the people that I love in the midst of situations where they are hurting & crying out to God & it appears as if God has forsaken them. I know that it is not wise to question God, but I was honestly just struggling with this & I was to the point where I was pretty much challenging God to show Himself clearly in my life & in the lives of my loved ones who were hurting.

How foolish I am. God always answers prayers. Of course He has already shown Himself in my life time & time again, & I realized this. I just wanted to feel Him now. But thankfully we serve a God who is eternally gracious, loving, & Who shows unmerited favor for His children time & time again. 
 It is amazing how God speaks so clearly through scripture. In my devotions over the past week, it seems as if certain passages were written just for me. So when I was really questioning God about why He was doing something a certain way, I "just happened" to come across these passages. I'll let you in on a little bit of what was taking place in my head:

Me: "Lord, I don't understand! Why are you letting this situation take place in my life right now? This is not a good way to help me grow. Don't you know that my life is crazy enough? This is not what is best for me!!"

Isaiah 45:9 “Woe to you who strives with Him who formed him, a pot among earthen pots! Does the clay sato him who forms it, ‘Whaare you making?’ or ‘Your work has no handles’?"

Me: "Well Father, I wouldn't put it that way exactly. I mean, I wasn't really asking you what you're going to make out of this situation. I guess I was just...well, isn't there a better way? Less painful perhaps? Couldn't you do it, um, my way?"

Isaiah 55:8  "My thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord."

Me: "I know that, Lord. I understand that Your ways are above my understanding, but would You be willing to hear me out if I made a few suggestions on Your course of action?"

Job 38:4-6 "“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements—surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?"

Me: "Ok, I wasn't there when You created the world. In fact, I haven't even been on earth for 20 years. I know that You know best, I just....Lord I need to understand why I can't see Your hand at work in the situations that my friends & family are going through."

God wasn't silent at this point, but I don't think I was truly listening for His voice. I was trying to walk by sight, not by faith. And as Hebrews 11:6 states "without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that He rewards those who diligently seek Him."

But again, God is faithful. As I did my devotions in Matthew the other day, God used the story of Christ's persecution in a way that I have never experienced before.  As I read through Matthew's account of the crucifixion, I took note of Jesus's prayers to His heavenly Father. In the last hours before His capture, we see Jesus crying out to His Father in the garden of Gethsemane.

 In chapter 26, verse 39, Christ is aware of the pain & humiliation He is about to face. "And going a little farther He fell on his face and prayed, saying, 'My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.'"
If it was possible, but it wasn't. There was no other way that we could be redeemed & that God's will be done other than this Perfect Man to die in our place. Jesus Christ, the Son of God was crying out asking God if there was some other way for His will to be fulfilled. Just as I had been praying for a different way for God's will to be accomplished in my life. But there is a major difference between my prayer & Christ's prayer; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.

Christ was willing to do whatever it took to fulfill the will of God, even though it meant He would surrender His life. He didn't take the easy way out.
I was hoping that God would provide an easy way out of a difficult time, both in my life & the lives of my loved ones. But when has "easy" ever taught us anything? How much do we depend on God for strength when we feel like we've got everything under control?

But my learning wasn't done yet. As I continued reading the rest of the story through my tears, I noticed some other people who questioned God's ways. 

In chapter 27:42-43, as Christ lay on the cross, drawing shallow breaths, the Roman soldiers & angry crowd taunted Him: “He saved others; He cannot save Himself. He is the King of Israel; let Him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in Him. He trusts in God; let God deliver Him now, if He desires Him. For He said, ‘I am the Son of God.’”
I suddenly realized my actions in demanding that God prove Himself in my life were very similar to those of the soldiers who crucified Jesus Christ. What if God did follow human's silly whims? What would have happened if God would have accepted their challenge"prove" Himself on that day? The consequences are unimaginable!

 If God had indeed delivered His Son from the cross, we would be without a Savior. Think about it. It must have seemed insane & incomprehensible to the bystanders on that day that God was allowing His Son to be pierced & bruised by the hands of men. It didn't make sense that an all powerful God would allow His Son to die. What good, & what purpose could possibly be found in that? 

But thankfully God's ways are not our ways. He is so far above us in every way, & He used a seemingly tragic & hopeless situation to bring hope, life, & salvation into a desperate & dying world. All because He chose not to answer some prayers & challenges in the way that most of us would have expected. He had a purpose that could not be seen in the midst of the pain, but is clearly displayed now in the beauty of His love. If you are struggling with God's purpose in allowing pain into your life, have patience, keep the faith. God's hand is always at work even when we cannot see it, & He never wastes our tears. Persevere; God will reward you. Love you all!!