Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Love and Joy

A lot has happened since my last post. It was a challenging last six weeks of the semester, but at the same time it was a time of learning and growing and being blessed by God. I am so very grateful for those weeks. So here’s an explanation of what I mean. Hopefully in the next couple weeks I will be able to back up and blog about what God taught me earlier in the semester too.

The first couple weeks after Spring Break were filled with the usual ups and downs of life. Then, on April 18 as I was working in the library an old friend started chatting with me on Facebook. She told me that our mutual friend’s boyfriend had died in a private plane crash that evening. My attitude took a nose dive with that information. It was the third time this semester that a young man I know has suddenly died. As that realization sunk in, I felt weighed down, depressed, and fearful. Never before had I been so aware of death’s blow, and I worried where it might strike next.

On Wednesday the 20th it was still weighing heavily on my mind, combined with other things too. I posted on my Facebook: “I'm tired. Tired in body, mind, spirit, the whole deal. I am so ready for this week, this semester to be over. And yet there's two more days. There's 2.5 more weeks. And even then, life won't necessarily get any easier. Lord God, please show me how to live in Your strength. Teach me to trust and rest in You. 2 Cor. 4:16-18.” I felt overwhelmed and just wanted to be done with everything.

Due to a variety of factors, I felt what I really needed was a good cry. I went out to the prayer room in the Walker student center. Sitting in the dark on the floor by a small cross, I sobbed for a while, trying to pray—trying to make sense of how I was feeling and why this was happening. As I sat there I asked God to send His peace because otherwise I knew I couldn’t make it through the day. Almost immediately, my sobbing stopped. My prayer was answered. I continued sitting there for a few moments reflecting & worshipping.

After I went back to my room, I updated my status: “His grace is sufficient. His strength is made perfect in my weakness. Praise be to His name.” I also included a quote from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: ‎"Trials never end, of course. Unhappiness and misfortune are bound to occur as long as people live, but there is a feeling now, that was not here before, and is not just on the surface of things, but penetrates all the way through: We've won it. It's going to get better now. You can sort of tell these things."

The next day was Maundy Thursday, so in chapel we had a Tenebrae service. Afterward, I went back to my room and did some journaling. “There’s so very much I take for granted,” I wrote. “Sometimes the curtain is pulled aside and I get a glimpse of the bigger picture, putting things into perspective. But it’s so easy to turn from that window and focus on the snow globe of my life, with all the minor details and the flurry of my life—typically created by me.”

I then felt a call to surrender my hopes/dreams/expectations of life to God—to submit myself more fully to His plan for my life. After spending some time praying through that, I was flooded with a feeling of joy, more than I ever had been before. I hadn’t realized I was missing out on joy in my life until it came pouring in. Thus, my Easter weekend was a good time of relaxation and peace, unlike last year when I had been super stressed and very tempted not to even go to church.

The next Saturday, the 30th, God gave me another time of wonderful communion with Him. I felt called to go out to the hundred stairs at 9:30 or so. It was dark, but the weather was nice. I was able to just spend time worshipping and resting in Him. I felt wrapped in the arms of His love, and I felt beautiful in His sight. Again, I was flooded with God’s joy. Walking back to my room I wanted to sing and dance and shout and skip. I had a huge grin on my face – so big I felt a little silly.

Sunday the 1st was the last Gathering. I went since the speaker was my Passion Group leader. The time of worship beforehand was particularly meaningful to me. We sang one of the songs I really appreciate – “Yahweh.” Later that evening as I again journaled, I could see how much God has done for me recently. Contentment. Faithfulness. Trust. Those are some of the lessons He has been teaching me. And then also giving me greater experiences of His love and joy than I have had before.

My God is amazing. I am so thankful to Him for this past semester. It’s been so tough at times—but I have learned so much. Through His strength, may I continue to apply it and live by His power and for Him alone.

As I wrote this post, a couple songs that played on my mp3 player really seemed to sum up this post: “Come People of the Risen King” by the Gettys and “Come Let Us Worship and Bow Down."