This past weekend was our annual Grace Group retreat. I went up the mountain with a bad attitude. I didn’t know if I even really wanted to go. A couple of days before we left I was angry that God was calling me to take a step of faith. I thought I wanted to move forward but when it came down to it I didn’t want to budge. It was easier to stay angry, hurt, doubtful than it was to choose to find joy and trust Him. We got up the mountain and as soon as I stepped out of the car my walls came up. I tried for 2 1/2 days to find a place to be alone and read a book. I just wanted to stay inside my walls because that’s where it’s comfortable. I regret that. I missed out on 2 1/2 days of fellowship with my GG Family and it was my choices that brought those consequences.
There were three devotional times that stuck out to me this weekend, two of which I had been through before in women’s Bible study. The first was from the book of Joshua. That has been my favorite book of the Bible since we studied it in Bible study. How quickly I forgot all the lessons I took away from Joshua. The specific lessons from Joshua had to do with Israel being defeated by Ai and Israel crossing the Jordan river.
The Israelites were promised defeat of Ai as long as ALL spoil was destroyed. They were defeated. Joshua was crying out to God asking why they had been defeated when they were supposed to have won. God told Joshua to get up and stop crying, there was sin in the camp. Turns out one of the Israelites took some spoil instead of destroying it, that was a sin. In my case the sin was sitting there and focusing on myself instead of looking to God for help and actively seeking Him. As long as I sit there I will be defeated.
In Joshua it also tells how the Israelites crossed the raging, flooded Jordan River in faith. God said the water would part once the SOLES of their feet touched down in the water first. They had to literally take a step of faith and trust that what God told them was true. God could have parted the river before they arrived at the banks but he wanted them to learn to depend on Him and trust Him. That’s what He’s asking of me.
The second lesson that stuck out to me was a lesson on being faithful to obey. We can’t just talk the talk but we have to walk it. We can’t say we want to work on something, not be active about doing it and then expect results. Doesn’t work like that. I knew that but part of me still had a hard time saying no if it meant not being able to go to the movies with friends or attend a movie night. We were taught that guarding our heart is more important than “missing out” on time with friends. What am I really missing out on if going to that movie causes me to stumble. I had my first chance to try it out Sunday night. I sat there and wanted to watch the movie with the rest of the group but finally decided to get up because I knew that the results of watching the movie outweighed the desire to be included. After I first stepped out I was upset that I had to exclude myself and I found myself again sitting in that place of self pity. Thankfully I didn’t stay there long and I chose to find an alternative and started running through the alphabet and naming attributes of God to each letter. In the end was it better to obey the Lord than watching the movie with the group and battle the consequences later? HECK YES!
The third lesson was this morning and it revolved around the story of Lazarus. We studied the “I AM” statements of God in Bible study earlier this year and the “I AM” statement in this story is, “I AM the resurrection and the life.” I was thankful once again that devotional times brought me back to lessons from Women’s Bible study that stuck out to me. The first lesson that I was reminded of is that Jesus said it was good that He was not there when Lazarus died. SAY WHAT?! How can that be good to purposefully stay away when someone has died? It makes sense though because the Jews believed that the soul was not dead until 3 days after a person had died therefore they could still wake up. If Jesus had been there when Lazarus had died, then Mary, Martha and all those watching would not see the glory of God at work and they would not learn what they did from this circumstance. By showing up 4 days after Lazarus had died and raising him from the dead showed His incredible power and glory. Second thing I was reminded of is that Jesus hurts with us. He was deeply sorrowed by Lazarus’ death and the pain that He saw Mary and Martha going through. His purpose was to glorify God and He knew that showing them this required them walking through a valley, but He hurt with them in that valley. He was not callous or unfeeling. He wept with them! The third lesson is shown in the different ways Jesus related to Mary and Martha. Both women believed that Jesus was who He said He was but each woman was different. Mary was more practical and intellectual. Martha was more emotional. Jesus related to each one differently and each one had faith. He relates to all of us in different ways.
Through the teachings of my brothers and sisters in Christ this weekend and a long talk with my mentor, my heart began to soften. It came down to whether or not I believe that God is the only answer, the only hope. Will I choose to trust that or will I continue to live with my walls up where I’m guaranteed to be miserable? I came to the conclusion that He is the only answer because I’ve seen it lived out through the testimonies of men and women in my GG. I will choose to trust in the Lord. I will choose to be actively involved in my sanctification and step out into the Jordan as God has called me to do. There will be days when tears still come but I will make the choice to not sit there. I will not let the emotions rule my decisions.
Lord help me to be actively involved in the process of my sanctification.