One of the most significant things I have been learning is about pursuing God. In class we recently studied through The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer. He wrote the book in the 1940’s, but it’s still as relevant to our daily lives as if it had been written yesterday.
One theme that ties the whole book together is this: God is pursuing us first. He is seeking to reveal Himself to us! All that I do is simply to respond to that – yet we call it the pursuit of God! It is incredible how much God really loves me. It blows my mind every time I think about it. God wants me to seek Him, and He wants to reveal Himself to me!
“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” – Jeremiah 29:13
Okay, this is cool: I am getting to learn a lot about communication and design this year in my ministry placement, and it’s awesome. So in learning about design, I made this picture with these lyrics from Movements by Rend Collective. But seeking after God – that’s what it’s about.
To get down to what I’m trying to say,
“The desire of my heart is to pursue God.”
My entire life I’ve been searching for love and have done some pretty extreme things on this journey to find it, such as: immorality, people pleasing, and using almost every drug under the sun.
My parents dedicated me to God when I was born but my home life didn’t come close to comparing to the Christian standard. My mother was over anxious, suffered from O.C.D. and my father abandoned me at a young age. This may be the reason for my thinking that God was distant and meticulously legalistic. No one taught me the significance of the elements or the reason why I recited the Lord’s Prayer and Psalms 23 every night which caused them to become nothing more than an empty ritual. I didn’t understand or have anyone to explain the concepts of religion or life and how one should live as a child so I grew up. I also didn’t receive the teachings necessary for growth spiritually nor an aid on my journey into adulthood. I couldn’t find help at home or at school. I’ve felt very alone for the majority of my life.
I’ve looked for love, or what I thought love was, in all the wrong places. I’ve changed who I was in order to fit into my social surroundings. I’ve been a punk, prep and everything in between. This has caused me to struggle with my identity in Christ quite a bit. (Am I doing what I do because I love Jesus or because this has become a way of life?) I’ve also looked for love in both intimate and platonic relationships, unavoidably leading to separation. I was introduced to the bliss of drugs near the beginning of high school, which led me to believe that I stopped caring what people and the world thought, only to be subject to a whole new level of trying to keep up with them.
In and out of detention centers, psych wards, rehab and later jail, I became callused and numb. I started cutting in my first rehab, starting as scratches eventually needing stitches. I met a girl at this place who made me feel incredible. She was everything I could’ve asked for. Despite this, it wasn’t her that I loved; it was the way she made me feel. I ended up sabotaging the relationship in various ways. Feeling ashamed of whom I’d become, I attempted suicide. Her parents knew a place where I could get some real help: Teen Challenge. I did a little research and quickly dismissed the idea of doing a 12 month faith based residential program.
After being kicked out of my apartment, living on the streets, coming close to death while being affiliated with gang members and a few more attempts at suicide I hit bottom and started the process to become a ‘student‘ at Teen Challenge. My first program started Aug 28/09. Early October I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior with full understanding at a service held at the farm. However, my flesh wasn’t going to give up so easily. Starting my 11th month in the program I was put back to month 1 because I lacked significant heart change, mostly obedience.
Soon after, I headed back into the world thinking I was equipped with the tools to handle certain situations that later led me back into the darkness. Forgetting that my identity and acceptance was found in Christ I went back to what I knew best, trying to find it in mankind. This led me to start thinking like a Buddhist, trying to separate myself from my feelings and desires. I became very philosophical, theoretical and idealistic trying to piece life together without God, doing nothing but running around in circles. I needed someone I could count on, to guide me and teach me; someone that would always be there for me and never steer me wrong.
Jesus is that person. I never fully understood how I could get to know someone that died 2000 years ago. That’s because you can’t. Thing is though, He isn’t dead, He’s very much alive. He’s giveen me the Holy Spirit who teaches me how I can serve and be more like my Master. I used to doubt His promises and have the uncanny ability to forget what wonderful things He has done but He has proven himself to me over and over. I should be dead, quite literally a few times over, but by His grace I’m able to tell you that He is epically awesome and that his love is incredibly amazing. I’m completely baffled as to why I ever question Him or how I can forget His awesomeness even more so how I doubt His love for me. The devil is a really good liar I guess…the scriptures that talk about spiritual warfare have been made for relevant to me in the recent past it’s almost overwhelming, but His grace is sufficient.
Because of the grace, mercy and love He has so willingly given me, and because I have chosen to be a slave to righteous living, not to mention the lessons I’ve learned in obedience, I have answered the call to attend Gospel for Asia’s School of Discipleship. I never thought God could forgive me of so much let alone use me to help save millions or use me to further His kingdom in any way for that matter. I’ve been here for a couple months and I’ve witnessed so much faith, servant-hood, love and grace. To say the very least it is simply epic. The examples that are given to us by the staff are challenging yet encouraging and hold us to a higher standard. I’m eternally grateful to my Father for choosing me to serve in this way. I’ve been exposed to an entirely different world of which I’ve grown to love very much. I am so stoked to see what he has in store for me and my classmates this year and even more so to see the character he will develop in each of us.
In January, I got to visit the mission field. It had been five years since I’d been there. During that time, I met up with an old friend, Gabriel, and this time I got to meet his wife and daughter. His wife is energetic and kind and makes amazing ginger tea. Their daughter, Faith, is two years old. When Faith was born she had a band around her kidney that restricted all blood flow; this meant she had to have that kidney removed. Having a kidney removed as an adult is a major thing, even more so for a baby that’s just a few months old. The prayer request reached us here in the States. Since she was my friend’s daughter, it hit especially close to home for me. The Lord’s hand was so evident throughout Faith’s surgery and she did fine. Her other kidney picked up all the work it needed to do. Praise the Lord! She is now healthy and incredibly smart, and she loves to sing. When I visited she knew about 30 songs in several languages. I know the Lord has a special plan for her life.
Spending time with people like Gabriel and his family made the trip really special for me. Getting to see how the Lord had grown and used friends during the five years since I’d seen them was encouraging. It’s just a simple thing, the reunion of friends, but it was a wonderful snapshot of all God can do in a life and how faithful He will be to complete the work He has begun in each of us. None of our journeys are complete; they’re just five years further along so it gave me a lot of hope, too, hope in all God will do in the future. It has nothing to do with us and everything to do with who He is.
I sometimes liken the part I get to play in building God’s Kingdom to the part a two year old plays when they help wash dishes. They might throw some suds around on the dish, but the adult takes care of the real work. This isn’t to say the Lord only gives us petty jobs; rather, He’s the one accomplishing the work, no matter how big or small. It’s His power and strength working through me, and doing it with Him is the greatest treasure. Just like time spent with your two year old is the real treasure, not the twice cleaned bowl.
It’s Him enabling us to serve. It’s Him walking with us every step of the way. “He who called you is faithful; He will surely do it.” 1 Thessalonians 5:24
Wow, it has already been 6 months as a student here at Gospel for Asia School of Discipleship! The Lord is teaching me so many things and He is also encouraging me! I think the biggest thing the Lord is encouraging me to do is to keep following, pursuing and seeking Him no matter how I feel. I think this is the absolute hardest thing for me to do because when I am emotional and don’t know why (and even when I do know why) I just want to hide and get away from everyone. Now if I chose to rely and act on what my emotions said, I would probably be back home. Making the decision to rely in faith on the Lord’s promises, is so hard for me, but once I do it I feel better because when I read His Word I truly trust what He says. There have been times however, when I read God’s Word and didn’t feel any different afterwards — this is where faith comes in.
Hebrews 11:1 says “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see” (NLT). This verse explains it perfectly. When my emotions decide to take over; immediately faith needs to step in. I have to have confidence that what I hope to happen (which would be that the feelings go away and ultimately that His perfect, good, pleasing will would be done so He may be glorified) and by hoping this will actually happen I can be so assured that it will happen. I know the Lord and He promises to answer the cries of His righteous ones, to deliver, and give them such perfect peace for those who choose to trust Him and keep their thoughts fixed on Him (Isa. 26:3). He also promises us that when we seek Him with all our hearts, we will find Him (Deut. 4:29) He is not going to hide Himself from us. He doesn’t desire us to stay on an emotional roller coaster for the rest of our lives! He came to give life and to give it more abundantly! (John. 10:10).
I find this so encouraging that the Lord showed me this because it really is so important to this Christian life. I mean think of one who is in the position of leadership. Don’t you think there are days when they just feel like giving up and not leading anymore? I mean those in leadership have so many different tasks to do, decisions to make and there not always easy decisions, and they most importantly have to shepherd their flock like Jesus calls them too. If they decided to just give up and stop leading because that’s what their feelings were telling them, I don’t think we would have any leaders in the world, and I know Gospel for Asia would not still be in existence.
The Lord has shown me I have to train my emotions. Whenever I feel them coming up and taking over I have to immediately go to the Lord and ask for faith. And all I need is faith as small as a mustard seed to move mountains. (Matthew 17:20) God has used so many people in my life, especially here at Gospel for Asia to remind me that my emotions and heart are very deceitful above all else (Jer. 17:9) and I need to put my faith in the Lord’s promises. The president of Gospel for Asia, K.P. Yohannan reminds us all of this very often. We need to be reminded because emotions are nothing we can hope in and make decisions based upon.
I think back in my life before School of Discipleship when I used to make so many decisions based on my emotions and every single time, it turned into a huge mess. I remember receiving a text, e-mail, or phone call from someone who made me so angry and instead of taking it to the Lord I decided to react and I ended up really hurting that person and caused them to view God not as a loving God but as an angry God because I called myself a Christian. I praise God that He has been so gracious to me and grown me very much in this area of my life! I also praise God for even bringing me here to School of Discipleship so that these areas in my life can be revealed.
I desire to live by faith and I am encouraged to do so by all the wonderful people here at Gospel for Asia. Each day they encourage me even when I fail to not give up and to keep running the race for Christ. Praise God 🙂