When all else fades…

Born and raised in the shadow of the Nashville skyline, I grew up in a life of comfort.  With a nice car, a nice house, and a nice family, I was never in need of anything.  Even within a fifteen mile radius of my house, it would’ve been possible to eat at a different restaurant for both lunch and dinner every single day for a month or two.  On my way to school every morning, I drove past many big houses, including the one below.

Now though, I’ll ask you a question.  What life would be like if we lost our possessions, our loved ones, and even our health?

You probably have your own past experiences with those types of loss, but I’ll share mine, too.  My life has changed dramatically since experiencing the loss of a loved one.  The reason why I told you about the town where I grew up, though, is this: I never felt the need to fully rely on God for my survival.  All of my troubles seemed solvable by wearing the right clothes, building the perfect resume, fitting in with the right crowd of people, and maintaining the appearance that everything was okay.  In the past few years, I have learned just how wrong I was in relying on those to, hopefully, fix some of my problems.

But in the past two months, I experienced an even greater loss; my whole family did.  I lost the lovely lady that I always knew I could talk with and just be myself.  She was “my safe place.”  She would actually encourage me to eat more, not less! (Go figure, since she was my grandmother! 😉 )  But she loved me so much, not for who I could be or would be, but for just the way that I was.  I was always most at home when sitting by her or cooking with her in the kitchen.  Never did she pressure me about having an exact plan for the future; she always seemed so much more concerned with where I was in that moment that I was with her.  This Christmas already isn’t the same without my beloved Mammaw here with us…

Life on earth is fragile at best.  Economic hardship can rob us of our wealth.  The aging process will mar the physical appearance of our younger days.  The thief named Death will steal from us our loved ones.  Dreaded dementia or a brain injury would rob us of our educated minds, and illness could strike us and take away our health.

I don’t know about you, but there’s one realization that I have in lieu of all of this… No man–even a devout follower of Christ–is exempt from the state of this fallen world.  Stripped away from the earthly things that bring us comfort: only in this state can we see that, truly, we still exist by the mercy and grace of God alone. Only when all else fades, do we see the light of Christ…

And this is the first step towards grasping the joy of salvation.

White as snow and a time for restoration

Do you ever feel spiritually dry?

“For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.

Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight…

Cleanse me…and I will be whiter than snow.

Let me hear joy and gladness;

let the bones you have crushed rejoice

Create in me a pure heart, O God,

and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation

and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”

Psalm 51:3-4, 7-12

Tears come to my eyes now as I read that passage over again.  How awesome is the message that these verses speak?  I have felt this exact way: I have seen my lack of desire and have felt as though I was a well about to run dry.  With the feeling that I didn’t have much left to give from the tired and broken heart–run down by my own sins and the brokenness of this world–I felt less motivated to pursue the Lord.  Just as the members of Casting Crowns sing, “It’s a slow fade when you give yourself away.”  As a result, I began to drift.

I know that I’m only 20 years old, but even from what I’ve experienced so far, I do know this: following Christ is not about what we can do for Him.  It’s not even about what we will bring to the body of Christ.  Following Christ is all about falling head over heels in love with our Savior and living from the overflow of His love within us.  If we rely on our abilities or on the love we receive from others, we will run dry and the confidence of our faith will falter.  Instead, we must rely on God alone to restore us.  At that time, we will realize the truth that restoration will come again through experiencing the joy of salvation!  (I write about this joy later 😉  )

As we near closer and closer to Christmas, I hope that we will all examine our hearts.  Have you felt spiritually dry and in need of restoration?  Maybe in this Christmas season, the focus should not be on gifts and parties, etc, but rather, it should be on celebrating the life of our Savior–the Lover of our souls.  This Christmas season and beyond,  I hope we will all bear witness to the glory of God, the love He displayed through the death of His Son, and how He cleanses us as white as snow.  Only He can create in us a pure heart and sustain us through the gift of His Holy Spirit.  Only He can restore us us the joy of salvation…

Praying your day is filled with Sonshine,

Sarah 🙂

You are More- Hillsong

 

As a writer, this whole song touches me, especially how it says, “You are more than my words could ever say.”  Wow, how true and amazing is that?  Even John admits this truth in the last verse of his account of the Gospel.

“Now there are also many other things that Jesus did.

Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.” John 21:25

He certainly is more than our words could or ever can say.  He is more!

Psalm 118:28-29

“You are my God, and I will give thanks to you;

you are my God; I will extol you.

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;

for his steadfast love endures forever!”

Psalm 118:28-29

Thanks be to God for all of His wonderful and many blessings!  My best friend got into dental school on Thursday which has been something that we’ve been faithfully praying about for the past year.  Another friend that I’ve made told me on Tuesday that her mom doesn’t have breast cancer anymore.  God is good, so good.  Today, I even praise God for the beautiful African Violets that seem to smile at me as I study for finals and write the 5 papers that I have left (22 pages left to write…. God help me! haha)

What will you thank God for today?

Praying your day is filled with Sonshine,

Sarah 🙂