Strengthened

But for so long, I didn’t know who I was or that I was of value.

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It’s October in Germany and I’ve been thinking a lot about the pending winter. If you have been thinking about sending me a care package (which I know all of you have), then hand warmers, wool things, etc., are appreciated 🙂

Staff taking a day of rest at the beach
Staff taking a day of rest at the beach

For the past few months I have been keeping very busy staffing the Discipleship Training School (DTS) here in Hainichen with Youth With a Mission. I am extremely happy to be serving here. I really love Germany, mostly for their different perspective on life and the world. It makes me sharper (although I’m sure there’s a lesson or two Germans can take from my book =D )

And Germany is also so beautiful! I love taking pictures of all the different skies I see behind our base.

I am thankful for this opportunity to staff the DTS for many reasons. For one, I feel challenged every day, so I rarely get bored. Learning German has big one of the bigger challenges. It isn’t very easy to just pick up. And the problem is that I want to be perfect in it, and I have to get over that. I also have to get used to the fact that it will take me longer to learn since I’m more focused on staffing the school than on learning German at the moment. But, after the DTS, my hope is to go to school for German lessons since I plan on staying for a while.

But it isn’t always just about some task to complete (although there are plenty of those). Often my character is tested. I love this about God, that He disciplines me, because truly my heart’s greatest desire is to grow in righteousness even though sometimes it can be painful.

For example, God is teaching me to live by truth instead of my own thoughts and feelings. A couple weeks ago, I had to repent of the thought that I would never learn German even though truly right now I can hardly get out a couple of grammatically-correct sentences. But God wants me to stand on the truth that I am His child who has a sound mind and that I can do anything in Christ. So whenever it gets really hard and I don’t think I’ll ever get it right, that is when I have to stop myself from falling into a negative attitude and see more clearly. And God has sent me a few people a long the way to keep encouraging me in the process 🙂

It is usually so easy for me to allow a flood of negative emotions and thoughts defeat me. In the past when that has happened, I have experienced God’s comfort in my prayer time. But now, God is no longer accepting that I allow myself to slip into a downward spiral every time I feel sad or afraid or worried or unloved. He is showing me how to calm myself down. So when I get into one of those fearful moods and go running to God, He doesn’t usually comfort me but instead reminds me that I know the truth and to exercise my faith by declaring something like the following: that He is with me, that His favor is over me because of my submission to Christ, and that He does love me and that He will guide me.

This has made me a stronger person because I believe who God is more than I trust my feelings, though it does take a lot of effort at times to fight against the onslaught of negative thoughts and emotions and instead listen to Him. But it is the only way that I break free of it, to set my will to fight against it.

Here is another everyday practical example that might not seem quite holy but I know it a major issue for most woman: physical appearance. Though I struggle to really see myself the way Jesus does, God has shown me the truth not just in my head but also in my heart, that I am made in His image and am therefore beautiful, despite my own perception shaped by society’s general idea of beauty. He has

DTS in Hainichen
DTS in Hainichen

shown me many other things regarding beauty besides this, and it’s my choice to believe and receive God’s truth or not. Maybe that issue seems trite, but I don’t think it is trite to God. I think it is a part of our identities that God wants us to believe about ourselves.

These lessons have helped me know another aspect of fear of the Lord – I am choosing to submit all of my own thinking to Him.

I’ve always wanted to live in fear of the Lord, knowing that it is what the Bible says leads to many good things, including wisdom and life:

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

Proverbs 9:10

The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, that one may avoid the snares of death.

Proverbs 14:27

The fear of the Lord leads to life, so that one may sleep satisfied, untouched by evil.

Proverbs 19:23

And if I want to fear the Lord, I cannot fear man.

I believe that the fear of man exists whenever a person gives greater weight to what man can or does think, say or do, rather than the thoughts, words and abilities of God:

Listen to Me, you who know righteousness,
A people in whose heart is My law;
Do not fear the reproach of man,
Nor be dismayed at their revilings.
For the moth will eat them like a garment,
And the grub will eat them like wool.
But My righteousness will be forever,
And My salvation to all generations.

Isaiah 51:6-8

I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him!

Luke 12:4,5

A big temptation for me is to fear man, and want their admiration, approval, and acceptance. I am the type of person who easily finds identity in others, too much to the point where I can lose myself. This is because from a young age I didn’t know my value and worth, and it was my conscience decision to find it in people. And this really has led to death, though of course physically I’m alive. But for so long, I didn’t know who I was or that I was of value.

Over the past seven years since following Christ, He has been helping me discover exactly who I am, and with this new lesson in fear of the Lord, in laying down my own perspective and choosing His, my sense of value and identity has only sharpened and has found more of a home in Jesus (the Truth).

So I have been learning to listen to Him first in regards to what His word says about me, about my eternal righteousness and good standing with Him because of Christ. I am not righteous later, I am righteous now in Christ by faith.

Righteousness seems like a “holy” word that doesn’t seem relevant to us today, but the effect of righteousness in Christ is eternal acceptance, starting here on earth and lasting forever, and the only true acceptance that can be found.

This truth of my eternal righteousness frees me from putting too much weight in the opinion (good or bad) of others (although of course there is still some value from what others say). This is because only Jesus has the wholly correct perception of me.

I think it is easy for followers to forget and/or miss the actual worth of what God says in His word. Perhaps because deep down we don’t believe it is enough or don’t think that it really applies to our current situation. But I am finding that truly, the Word does answer the questions I need answers to. Of course it doesn’t tell me specific instructions. But it does tell me I can trust God to guide me in the specific instructions that I need, and this is an answer to a heart issue (trusting God), which is what I believe God cares about the most.

So over the past couple of months here, that is just ONE of the things God has been teaching me – that His Word and who He is is truly enough for me and for finding identity. And now when I read this truth, in the light of truly believing in eternal acceptance through Jesus, it brings so much life and joy like never before!

Hainichen, Germany
Hainichen, Germany

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christs, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us.

Ephesians 1:1-8

So now, unless the Holy Spirit convicts me of something that He wants to renew, then my intention is to hold on to this truth about God’s amazing love, forgiveness, grace, and acceptance for myself and for everyone. I do not want to allow the accuser of this world have any influence over my thoughts about myself or about others.

I am thankful that God has brought me to a place where I am strong enough to do this more and more, to choose to receive His truth rather my own. I am not sure that before, when I was still very weak in my faith and when my heart was even more broken, that I could have done this. Fear which led to pride kept me from really believing what God had to say and instead I relied much more on my own false understanding. So I’ve had to first obey His calling over my life and then experience His faithfulness over time in different situations to really see that God is good and trustworthy!

…those who keep waiting for the LORD will renew their strength. Then they’ll soar on wings like eagles; they’ll run and not grow weary; they’ll walk and not grow tired.

Isaiah 40:31

Taste and see that the Lord is good.
How happy is the man who takes refuge in Him!

Psalm 34:8

2 thoughts on “Strengthened”

  1. It is so good to read what you are experiencing, Melanie, and knowing that God is taking care of you and teaching you all at the same time. You are a very articulate writer, dear girl, and maybe that will be your calling someday. Love you to pieces! Grandmother

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