I am thankful that we had a rainy day, because I actually got some work done inside my house. When spring weather hits, I am outside constantly, and the house suffers. But, today I got to the bottom of a massive mountain of laundry and did a few other chores. If it rains all week, this house should be in tip top shape by Friday.
The weather cleared up in time for me to take an evening walk after dinner. I walked through the fields and spent some time praying. I’ve had some things weighing heavily on my mind. It was good to walk and talk with my heavenly father.
The other day I was thinking about how my relationship with the Lord has changed over the years. There was a time when making time to read the Bible and pray every day was difficult. As a single woman, the excuse I used was that I was too busy with work and other responsibilities. As a young wife and mom, it seemed like every moment of my day was filled with something, and at night, I collapsed in my bed, exhausted. I knew that it was an important part of my relationship with Jesus, but I couldn’t always seem to “fit it in” to my busy life.
I can’t pinpoint exactly when the change happened, but over the past three to five years, the Lord has been doing a deep work in my heart. A couple of years ago, the Lord and I had it out, big time! The same things kept coming up in my life over and over, and I knew that there was some stuff in me that needed to change. But, instead of being humble and letting the change happen, I fought. I fought with God, I fought with my husband, my friends and even my pastor. After a particularly big fight with all of them at once, I went home and decided that I was going to get to the bottom of this once and for all.
I decided that I was going to be like Jacob, who wrestled with God all night long and said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” (Genesis 32:26) I begged the Lord to reveal whatever it was in my heart that was keeping me from becoming the woman that he had called me to be. It took a while, but finally I was able to see the things in my life that the people who loved me had been trying to show me. I saw areas where i had been selfish and tried to make the world cater to me. I realized that just about everything I did had a selfish motivation behind it. That broke my heart, and I begged the Lord to change me.
It’s been a gradual process, and I have to choose daily to love the Lord and to love others more than myself. It’s been in this work that I have come to this place of truly needing the Lord. I have been a Christian for a long time, and I really believed that I couldn’t possibly love him more. It seemed natural that as the newness of my faith wore off, so would my zeal and passion for him.
But the truth is, over the past two years I have come to love the Lord more than ever before. I pray and read the Bible daily, not because I should, but because I long to know him more, and I love to spend time with him. My daily walks though the fields around my farm are my favorite times.
When I am trying to figure things out, I run to the fields to ask for wisdom. When I am happy or excited, I run to the fields to thank him. I will often sit and ask the Lord specific questions about his ways, as I am very aware that his ways are different than mine. He has been very faithful to show me his ways as I study the Bible, through teachings at church and conversations with friends. I have had a lot of ideas about things, and I have come to realize that those ideas were based more on my ideas and the culture around me, then on the Word of God.
This is a silly analogy, but a few months ago I found out that my husband despises sloppy Joes. I was so confused! I love them. I have made them for him many times and I honestly assumed that he loved them as much as I did. When the force with which he hates them came forward, I had to laugh. I have been married to this man for almost 19 years, and didn’t know.
That’s kind of how it’s been in my relationship with God. There were a lot of areas where I thought I understood him and his ways, but as I read the Bible and pray, I realize that I really had no idea how he feels about certain things. I want to know God! I want to know what he loves, what he hates and all of his ways. I can listen to a sermon and learn about him, but to really get to know him, I need to spend time with him.
Our church has spent almost two years reading through the book of Matthew together. We finally finished it this past Sunday, and our pastor pointed out that through the book of Matthew there were a lot of believers, but only a few disciples. He posed the question, “Are you a believer or a disciple?” The believers recognized that Jesus was the son of God. The disciples dedicated themselves to learning his ways and following after him. A disciples life will look radically different than someone who simply believes. I want to be a disciple! I want to know God, not about him. I want to spend time learning his ways and not let the world around me define his ways for me. That is truly the cry of my heart these days. I will end with a passage of scripture that I memorized twenty-three years ago when I did a twelve week Christian Training School at my church. The pastor read it on Sunday and it brought tears to my eyes. In my life, it’s truer now than ever before.
But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.