“He has told you, o man, what is good: and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God.”
What comes to mind when you hear the word “humility”?
For me, I always thought of embarrassment and shame. I had a picture in my mind of elementary school. I was getting ready to run my very first “track meet.” I was only in like kindergarten or first grade, so it wasn’t like I was on a team or anything. I checked in once we got to the high school track and got my bib with my number on it–I was set to go.
Considering my brothers already ran track, I was a pretty confident six-year-old. They called my age group out to the track where a bunch of little five and six-year-olds lined up at the starting mark.
*BOOM* We all took off running. I heard my brothers’ words echoing in my head: “Don’t run super fast in the beginning! Everyone else will burn out towards the end, but you will have more energy–that’s when you run super fast!” Psh I’ve got this, no problem. I’m running along, letting other kids pass me.
But all of a sudden, something happened that I had not prepared for…Never in a million years did I expect my SHOE TO FALL OFF! I felt my bare sock on the rubbery track. I looked behind me to see my pink running shoe about five feet behind me. I didn’t know what to do, but I did know that I was mortified. I could hear my brothers cheering me on in the background, telling me to keep going. I was frozen from embarrassment, which only made things worse in my mind.
I felt my face getting hot and next thing I know tears were streaming down my flushed cheeks. I just stood there staring at my shoe, crying. It felt like en eternity but the next thing I felt was someone holding my hand. I look up and see my brother, laughing and telling me to keep going and sort of pulling me forward. I eventually finished the race but you can bet I never ran again after that. I was humiliated at just six years old!
So when I felt the Lord telling me I needed to pray for humility, I panicked, thinking something as scarring as that memory was going to happen. In a moment of feeling very spiritual, I asked Him to give me humility. Then I realized what I had done and said, “Never mind–I take it back!”
It took me 12 and a half years to realize there was such a thing as godly humility. In fact, it wasn’t until just a few days ago that my eyes were opened to this fact.
Our GFA School of Discipleship
class was reading Crazy Love
by Francis Chan in the beginning of February. There were so many great things in this book, but a few things stuck out to me in particular–one of which is just realizing how precious time is and how fragile our lives are. We aren’t promised next year, or tomorrow or even the next hour. So what are you doing in your life to benefit the kingdom of God? Do you want to die while watching some movie filled with cursing? Do you want Jesus to come back in the middle of a gossiping conversation? I don’t know about you, but I want to be doing something that the Lord would be proud of to call me His own.
2018-2019 School of Discipleship Class
Something else that had an impact on me wasn’t actually in the book, but in our homework questions. You see, in Crazy Love, Francis Chan goes through a whole list of characteristics that can be found in a Christian “obsessed” with Jesus. From the 13 listed, one of the homework questions asked what three were the hardest ones for us. The three I picked out were ‘friends of all’, ‘humble’, and ‘dedicated.’
Dedicated: A person who is obsessed with Jesus is more concerned with his/her character than comfort. Obsessed people know that true joy doesn’t depend on circumstances or environment; it is a gift that must be chosen and cultivated, a gift that ultimately comes from God. (James 1:2-4)
The very next question said, ” For each of these three areas, think of one person who is an example to you of being obsessed in this way.” As I began to brainstorm, I realized all three of those that I struggled with just happened to be three very prominent characteristics in one of my brothers. I felt the bitterness rising and I had an “of course” kind of attitude. All my life it’s felt like I lived in the shadows of my brothers, but mostly this one. Our relationship has always been sort of weird. We’re close, but also, low-key, always in competition with each other.
Our teacher that day told us to look up to the people that we listed and follow them as an example so that we can begin to achieve or get better at those things. I thought, “nah.” But as the day went on, I really felt the Lord telling me I needed to call him and apologize for constantly being bitter and jealous. I thought, “nah.”
A few weeks went by with that on my mind and heart pretty regularly, but after a while I started to feel that conviction slip away. Agh. I knew this was something I needed to do and I wanted to obey the Lord especially because our time is limited. So before I could overthink it, I called my brother–actually, before I could think about it at all. I had no idea what I was going to say!
He answered and I told him I was sorry for everything, and I haven’t been the best sister and I asked him to forgive me. He forgave me and apologized as well, for not making it easy for me. There was a whole lot more that went into that conversation but that’s personal for me to hold onto and treasure. It was a really super great conversation and I hung up feeling not only closer to him but closer to God, too! I felt so much joy and relief and tried to block out what else the Lord was telling me to do during that phone call.
A few weeks went by and I could still feel Him telling me to do something else. I knew what it was but I pretended I didn’t hear it. Again, after a while, that conviction started to fade. This time I didn’t care. Heh, oh well.
As I realized that, I started feeling pretty thankful that it was leaving to be honest, but in the midst of that, I heard the Holy Spirit say to me loud and clear, “Karis, how many opportunities and growth are you going to miss out on because you won’t do this simple thing for Me?” Agh. Fine.
I stepped into an empty meeting room in the GFA
office and called up my sister-in-law.
We’ve always had a weird/not the greatest relationship, as well. We don’t have the greatest past, and there was a lot of unresolved hurt. I told her that I felt like we haven’t officially closed the doors to our past and I really believed it was because I never asked for her forgiveness. There was a lot more to this conversation too, but it’s for me.
She forgave me and expressed how much it meant to her. Afterwards, I felt even closer to God than before and was feeling super refreshed, so I wanted to go tell one of our School of Discipleship leaders about it because I was just so excited. I sat in my chair deciding if I wanted to tell her at that moment or at the end of the day. Once I decided I wanted to do it right then, I kid you not: HE ASKED ME TO HAVE ANOTHER CONVERSATION WITH SOMEONE. No–That’s all I said.
But I eventually told myself I would do it since I’m already feeling good and when else would I do it? This one however, was a little more difficult for me. This conversation had to be done face-to-face with someone over me at GFA. On my way to the School of Discipleship leader’s office, I made up my mind that if this person wasn’t at their desk then it just wasn’t meant to happen. And what do you know…they weren’t! Relief blew over me. And on my way back from the leader’s office, that person still wasn’t there! As soon as I got done saying “thank goodness” in my mind, they walked around the corner. Bah! But I did it and I had that conversation–apologizing and asking for forgiveness.
Growth Through Godly Humility
Even though I had to have three really hard conversations in the span of about three weeks, I can honestly say that my relationship with the Lord feels like something completely different. It is totally different than it was a week ago. He revealed what godly humility looked like and felt like. It was scary; I definitely won’t lie or sugarcoat that. And I one hundred percent did not want to have any of those conversations. But I don’t regret any of them. In fact, I wish I had them sooner because of how much growth happened afterwards. I wish I could explain to you all the joy that fills my spirit now. I was humbled in a way that didn’t cause embarrassment or shame. It was just choosing to get off my high horse. I treasure this entire experience!
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So lately I’ve been feeling pretty overwhelmed and stressed. I haven’t had much alone time (I’m very much of an introvert) and the book we’re going over in class is pretty heavy.
This morning in chapel however, the Lord gave me a vision (I promise I’m not weird). Before taking Holy Communion, Bishop Danny asked us to close our eyes and quiet our hearts to prepare ourselves. So knowing that is definitely something I need to do and take advantage of in the midst of this busy schedule, I started imagining myself in an empty white room… Sort of. You know in movies when characters are dreaming and they’re in that white abyss? Exactly like that. There was no up and down, or left and right. There was only white. Bright white everywhere. Did I make that clear enough? So as I’m standing there in the nothingness, Jesus appears in His white robe and wounds in His hand and feet. Jesus Christ, my Lord and King was just standing there in front of me in all of His glory and beauty.
Well, you know how people always ask the question of “What would you do when you see Jesus?” A lot of the times you get an answer like, “The first thing I’d do is ask Him…”
My first instinct was to fall down. I was not worthy. I fell to my knees with my head bowed but it wasn’t low enough. I couldn’t get low enough. I got on my face and started kissing His feet and His wounds that He endured through for ME. All I wanted to do was show Him how much I loved Him. He lifted me up and I fell into His chest, hugging Him and crying… but I felt no shame or embarrassment. There was only love there. Just being in His presence, I had no doubts or fears. I knew this Man loved every part of me with everything in Him. And all I could do was cry because for the first time ever, I knew He would keep me safe and never let me go or give up on me. I could literally feel Jesus’ love radiating from His warm embrace. It felt so tangible, like I could touch it and take it with me everywhere I went. And He just sat there with me, holding and comforting me. No words, nothing needed to be said. But I wasn’t crying because of everything on my mind. No, I was crying because of who Jesus is. In fact, none of those negative feelings or sadness came to mind once. The focus was 100% on Him and who He is.
And so in the midst of feeling discouraged and depressed because I’m not where I want to be spiritually, my Lord showed me the real focus. He also showed me that my first instinct was to fall down before the King and kiss His wounds. So despite my feelings, I’m not failing at all. It’s just a tough season, but on this day, I got a little more perspective, and that is what’s getting me through it.
Read about what another School of Discipleship student learned in the midst of discouragement.
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Lately it’s been on my heart to share how I ended up on this path at Gospel for Asia. Looking back a year ago, I can see 100% how the Lord was preparing my heart and allowing things to happen in my life that would eventually lead me here.
Exactly one year ago, I was on a flight to Oregon for one week. Just a month prior, I thought I would be moving back to the west coast after staying in Virginia for a little bit, after being in South Korea for three months. I’m getting ahead of myself, though.
A lot of things were different a month before this flight. I felt good. I had a boyfriend, I was moving back to a beautiful state that I had fallen in love with, I was working out regularly, I knew what I was going to do with my life, and I had everything figured out. I had just gotten back from a missions internship; I was doing so good.
Then something happened that I never saw coming in a million years. I started doubting everything. All my plans… I started wondering if, maybe my boyfriend wasn’t perfect for me and if there was someone out there a little more similar to me; that maybe for the last two years of knowing and dating my boyfriend on and off, I was wrong. It was like I woke up one day and everything was literally right in front of me – my whole life. I’d move to Oregon, I’d marry this guy and we’d work at the camp or church that we met at, and that was my life. So of course, Oregon became a question too. Is this all there is for me? Am I ready to settle down?
Now, please don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t like I thought there was anything wrong with that, but that is so not who I am. I want to travel, and do missions. I want to do things for the Lord on the field! Anyone who knows me, knows I can’t sit still in one place for too long. I get antsy. In the past two years, I’ve been to Virginia, South Carolina, Oregon, South Korea, Vietnam, China and Texas. It’s great – I love it.
Anyway, so after crying and seeking out the Lord and having my whole world come crashing down in front of me, I broke up with my boyfriend of two years. We kept it on the down low, because I wasn’t sure if I just needed to really spend all my time with the Lord and I was just having a mid-life-crisis, or if this was real. So, for the first time since I was 17, we didn’t talk once for a whole month. I was still freaking out because I always thought Oregon was the place I was going to end up, and now all of a sudden my heart was changing. It was hard. I talked to different people, and tried looking for an answer I liked. Whether they said to go to Oregon or stay here, none of them set well. I felt the Lord telling me to go talk to the worship leader at our church, and, after putting it off for weeks, I finally did. I didn’t know why I was going to him, it’s not like we talk all that much, and he only knew me through my brother who had been on the worship team for years. But God really used him. He said to me, “Neither of the places are right or wrong. It’s just a matter of where you will grow in the Lord the most.”
I left feeling a sadness in my heart. God had very clearly shown me in that conversation that if I went out to Oregon, that would be my life. Have a job, get married, have kids, grow old. The American dream. But if I stayed in Virginia, I would be pursuing missions. I could so clearly see how my life would end up in Oregon, but I couldn’t see anything from Virginia. I don’t even like Virginia. Why would I want to stay?
I knew, though, where I would grow the most. So with a monstrous leap of faith, I called my employer in Oregon and told him I would not be taking the job I had been offered. I cried a lot. But I had peace – a weight had been lifted. A few days later, I was telling my roommate-to-be in Oregon that it wasn’t going to work out and she convinced me to come visit. So I bought my plane ticket.
One year ago, I was on a flight to Oregon for a week. I decided to surprise my guy (who I technically wasn’t dating anymore), and not tell him I was coming. If I’m being honest, it was a really great week. We both felt like we were starting fresh in our relationship. I got to see old friends, my brother and sister-in-law, and my nephew. But my time was coming to an end. I got offered a position at the camp again and I was seriously considering it. My boyfriend and I had been together for a pretty long time, but there was just some things that were getting in the way of us being together. So before accepting that position, we had a talk and I basically told him that I couldn’t move out there if there wasn’t a future. I left it at that and gave him time to think about it.
When I got back home, I had an interview I had set up a few weeks before flying out to Oregon. I prayed a lot about that job and the job in Oregon. I decided that if I got this job, then that would be it. I would stay for sure. And of course, I got the job as soon as I walked in, pretty much. I felt so much peace about it all.
A few days passed since I had been back, so after there not being any mention from him about our conversation in Oregon, I finally brought it up and that was it. It felt like the end of an era. I had been crazy about him since I was 16. And now it was all gone. He told me he wasn’t ready for the commitment. I was devastated.
For months, I felt like I couldn’t breathe at night. I wasn’t prepared for the sacrifices I had to make in following the Lord. After my brother went overseas, I went straight to one of the pastors at our church and told him to send me overseas too. Instead, he then gave me the link to GFA School of Discipleship. So, with a joyful and excited attitude, I applied. Just kidding – I was so grumbly and annoyed and…ugh. But a few weeks later, I got accepted and here I am!
I have no doubt in the world that my King and Savior allowed me to go through the things I did so that I would end up here at School of Discipleship. There has been so much healing and love and grace in my life these past three months. I am finding who I am in Christ and His unfailing love for me. The love I so deeply desired and was searching for in my boyfriend was in front of me the whole time. My Jesus is so real and He pours that love on me more and more every single day.
There’s a lot more that goes into this past year, but a blog post wouldn’t be the place to share. Taking that terrifying and painful leap of faith essentially led me on a journey of self-discovery through Christ. So whatever you may be going through or struggling with, take the leap of faith. The Lord will always follow though in His promises. Chances are it’ll be painful and hard, but abundant blessings will follow.
I hope I could be an encouragement to at least one person today!
Read a GFA World Magazine article written by Anna, a GFA School of Discipleship Alumna from Canada.
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