I have really been trying to take time to write in my journal everyday this year. I will do well for a span of time and then I forget for a month or two or more. I haven’t been very consistent with it, but looking through it I have snapshots of my journey back to faith this year. As I am sitting here at 7:00 p.m. on a Tuesday night trying to decide what to write for my 8:00 a.m. Wednesday post, I caught a glance of my journal. I flipped through a few pages and reread something I wrote on earlier this year. There was a message there that I needed to hear again. So, why not make it this week’s post as well?
July 28, 2016
Today’s devotional had me reread 2 Corinthians 4:16-18.
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
I want to let everything go and just believe, but I am constantly looking for a sign. I just watched a documentary about God’s love and seeing how it truly is visible outside of the traditional church, the western world church. I’m watching video proof of God’s love moving, but all I can do is think, “if only I could experience that.” If only God would blatantly pour His love over me in a way that was truly undeniable, then I would finally have the proof I need to just believe.
Then I read the passage, “what is unseen is eternal.” Even now I struggle with admitting that was God speaking to me. That was Him telling me to stop looking for proof and just believe. Stop looking for physical or visible signs and just let God guide me in the way He wants.
Earlier this week I prayed about my finances. I was worried that even with some extra money coming in this month I would be short on cash. I knew my electric bill would be crazy expensive because it is so hot outside. My bill ended up being $200, but somehow I only owe $24. I had somehow gotten ahead on payments and had a balance of $176. There is no way this was just a coincidence. I asked God for help and He took care of it. For some reason though, there is still doubt. Why can’t I accept this is one of the signs I have been asking Him for?
Beyond the signs and proof, one of the biggest things I still struggle with believing and accepting is Jesus. It is hard to wrap my brain around the fact that God sent His son to live on Earth, perform miracles, teach, and ultimately be viciously murdered on a cross for our sins. My sins. It’s a brutal story that has actually been simplified and cleaned up over the years. I almost think, when you grow up in the church, hearing over and over how this man died for your sins, it can become just another story. Another verse to memorize and spit back out.
No one wants to truly think about how disgustingly violent it was for Him to be beaten over and over again. His flesh ripped from His body. Treated worse than an animal. Nearly killed by just the beating, but then forced to carry what must have been an incredibly heavy cross up a hill. The very cross He knew He would die on. Then they drove what must have been giant nails into Him. I imagine that took awhile to get in. He then hung in the blistering sun for hours while people stared until He finally gave in to death.
I honestly can’t think of a more horrific way to die. And He did it for me. For all those who had sinned and those who would sin in the future. He was beaten and murdered to cleanse away our wrong doing, even though He did absolutely nothing wrong. He died because I cuss too much. He died because of that stupid bad sin I committed. Like I said, it’s a concept that is hard to wrap my brain around when I really break it down and think about it.
It’s my fault that He died, as much as it was the people who were actually there and asked for Barabbas instead. As much as it was the people who physically drove the nails into His hands. And yet He loves me anyway. I caused His death, but all He wants is to love me and for me to share His love with others. He wants me to embrace Him fully and live the life He has planned for me. He knew about me even back when He hung on the cross. I was a part of the plan all along.
It’s time to truly accept that there was a man named Jesus who really was the son of God. He came to Earth to remind us of God and give us a way to be forgiven. He provided the way for us to have a direct relationship with God.
“Open the eyes of my heart, Lord. Open the eyes of my heart. I want to see you.”
December 20, 2016
There are so many things about that journal entry that speak to me again today. I had forgotten that devotional lesson about what is unseen is eternal. I had forgotten about that electric bill. Most importantly, I had forgotten about the thoughts I wrote down about Jesus.
As we head into the upcoming Christmas holiday, I find it extremely fitting that I landed on that page to be reminded of the other part of Jesus’ story. This time of year it’s easy to focus on the sweet little angelic baby laying in a manger. The foretold child who came to save the world. Yet, we also have to remember that baby grew into a man. A man who endured terrible suffering because He loves us. He loves us so much that He paid the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. That is a part of the Christmas story too. It is so much more than just what happened on that oh so holy night.