Hello everybody! My semester is finally over and I don’t have to get up at 1 am to do homework before my 6 o’clock 12 hour work shift anymore! Exciting right? As much of a time crunch as it is, I really enjoy college. This semester I took C++ programming language and a system security class that focused on managing security for an intranet using a server operating system. Very cool stuff. It was very demanding, very time consuming, and I didn’t sleep much during this semester. Alas, it’s over with, and I can let my brain cool for a few months.
I’ve seen this Bible challenge going around on Facebook, and I’ve been tagged to participate. Usually, I don’t give much thought to chain style statuses and all that, but I figured a Bible challenge thing I can handle. However, I can write on for days about what verses I revisit, what verses are particularly special to me and why, so I thought, hey! Now is a good time to get back to blogging since the semester is over, and here’s a good subject to start off on.
Of course all of the bible is great and can help people deal with life in one way or another, but there are particular books and verses that I return to for specific purposes. I’ve started one of those “read the bible in a year” plans not very long ago. The one I’m reading is on the bible app You version which is an awesome application. It is a canonical reading plan, which means from beginning to end. So it starts in Genesis, and ends in Revelation. I also use the resources at blueletterbible.org to help me understand what I’m reading. BLB is another awesome resource for absolutely EVERYTHING bible related that a friend suggested to me, and I highly recommend that you check it out. It has loads of resources. Anyway, enough advertising. Onward you say! Get to the point!
I love to read the bible when I’m feeling great and happy, and I just feel like reading something I haven’t read much or maybe never before at all. But I’d like to share where I go when things aren’t going so well for me. I have three particular struggles that the bible helps me with. I have more struggles than that, but these are the ones I’m willing to tell you about for free.
First, I often feel that I’m not doing something that I should be doing. It took me a long time to grow up. If I’m not careful, I get into these ruts where I feel like I need to rush to catch up to where I believe I should be at in this stage of my life. I compare myself to other people, I feel that I am behind them, and I get mad at myself. I feel like I’ve failed at something. When I actually stop and think about it, and think about God’s plan, I know that I’m wrong for feeling this way. I know that I’m right where I’m suppose to be as long as I try my best to keep doing what the bible is telling me to do, and I just pray for assistance in staying on the right path.
During these low periods of my life though, I find myself reading the book of Joshua a lot. What I get from Joshua is courage. It empowers me and reminds me not to pay attention to the negative influences around me that I come in contact with daily. It is usually listening to those influences that put me in this rut after all. I get strength and determination to keep doing what I know is right. Joshua’s determination to press on, his courage to face enemies and struggles when he was vastly outnumbered and out gunned, his unwavering faith that God had his back and there was nothing he couldn’t do if it were for the Lord– these are all things about Joshua that give me confidence and encouragement. The book of Joshua really helps me out when I’m feeling low and like I’ve failed.
There is one prayer from the bible that I have repeated far more times, often multiple times a day, than any other prayer, or verse. It comes form Psalm 19:14. It is scribbled all over notepads, school notes, my planner, and several journals, and many other places. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your eyes, Lord, my rock, my redeemer. This one comes in handy while in traffic. If I ever just lose it and snap, it will probably be because someone left their high beams on too long while driving towards me at night. This prayer has kept my head cool, and has kept me from screaming out the window what I REALLY feel like saying, on multiple occasions.
The 19:14 prayer helps me keep my mind and my mouth in the right places. Speaking is a struggle for me regardless. I’ve gotten better I think, but I don’t really have a middle level. I’ve either got diarrhea of the mouth and I spit out words before I give them much thought, or I’m timid and shy, and avoid conversation with people because I don’t know what to say. There’s a happy medium in there somewhere that I’m hoping to find someday. The bible teaches that out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks. I get frustrated easily with other people, particularly in the workplace. That is where I need this prayer the most. This prayer works like a vitamin for me. I have to use it everyday for it to work. Once I stop using it, all the great help it provides me with withers away. That’s just the way it has been for me. It takes constant daily effort to keep my mouth and heart clean. Thats why its a struggle.
The last struggle I’ll describe takes the biggest toll on me. It would only make sense that I save the biggest one for last right? The subject seems to be an ever prevalent theme in my writing, in my everyday life. I didn’t always hold the bible or Jesus for that matter in such high regard. I wasn’t always a believer, a Christian. I don’t like saying that “I wasn’t always and Christian.” I don’t like how vague the word “Christian” has become (or maybe always has been for that matter) I don’t like using a word that anyone can plug their own definition into. I don’t like how saying “I wasn’t always a Christian, but now I am” almost implies that I’m saying “once I was bad, but now I’m good.” That’s not what I’m saying at all, and I know I’m not “good”. “Good” is relative to whose standards our behavior is be measured by. What being a follower of Jesus means to me, is throwing the other standards of behavior out the window, and looking to the bible to see what God wants from us. I won’t recite the whole bible to you, but trust me, the answers are in there. Believe me… I’m not “good” but I’m trying.
Okay, I’m getting to the point. The biggest thing I struggle with is my past. I know what the bible says about being forgiven, and being made new, but as a human being, it’s still hard for me to turn around and see where I’ve been, and not feel a little shame. I know I shouldn’t feel that way. Thats why its a struggle. When I first became what I’m calling a follower of Jesus I was so excited about the fact that I could start putting distance between myself and the guy I once was. In fact, I thought that If I tried hard enough, I could rub that guy out of existence. All I had to do was forget about him, don’t talk about him, pretend he never happened, and he’d go away. It’d be great! Give it a good decade or so and no one would ever have to know that I wasn’t always just a perfect happy church goer, and I wouldn’t have to remember how bad things were before. That plan didn’t last long.
One reason that plan failed is because there are some people who love to remind me of who I once was. Another reason it failed is because as I forget what I was saved from, I could forget how grateful I am for salvation. You can’t out run the past. I’m sure that line is in some old cheesy movie somewhere but wow it’s true. Also, reading the bible helps me realize that forgetting the past isn’t the right thing to do anyway.
There really isn’t one single verse or book of the bible that helps me in this area. This struggle goes deeper than having to convince myself that I’m living a different life now. It’s more just reading the bible regularly that keeps me focused on moving forward instead of falling backward toward where I once was. It’s similar to warriors training for battle. If warriors don’t practice, and work on skills and train, mentally and physically, then they will be defeated easily by formidable enemies. Regularly reading God’s word sharpens our minds and strengthens our spirit against our enemy, and our enemy is stronger than us alone.
To deal with this struggle, I’m trying to find a way to use my life for good. One of my favorite things about God is his awesome ability to take terrible things and use them to show great things. I think that’s what I’m trying to do. I just want God to take the things that bring me shame and use them to show how awesome he is.
I’ve been taken steps lately to take this from an idea and putting it into action. I don’t have all the kinks worked out but I am feeling like I’m being led to do some things. This is going to be my focus in days to come. Being “the light on a hill” is not all that easy. I see other people do it so effortlessly. I want to do it too. So thats the direction I’m trying to head in. I’m not moving quickly, these are not steps taken lightly or easily. In fact they are kind of a big deal to me, they require facing some fears that I have happily avoided for quite sometime. But what can I say? I’ve been enjoying the light shared by other people for a while now, and I think it’s time that I turn on my own light as well, maybe I can be light that points someone else to God like so many other people have done for me.
Thanks for reading.