This morning I began to reflect on just how much Jesus’ love has transformed me since I started following Him eight years ago. And as my heart filled with worship, I really couldn’t help but sing and dance in my room this Easter morning, a stark contrast to the days I spent in my bedroom steeped in depression and darkness.
God’s love is so real, and so relentless, and so powerful. More powerful than death.
And He chose me to receive His forgiveness and love. He chose me to receive peace, joy, freedom and love forever. And not because of me, but because God is love, and true love has no conditions. We only need to accept it.
And when I accepted it, I had no idea that eight years later, I would feel like a brand new person, that I could feel whole inside, healed, and emotionally stable and satisfied.
I actually remembering being afraid of change, not really knowing whether or not I’d like the person I would become. But it was just fear lying to me again.
Admittedly, however, my recent update letter triggered a bit of shame as it communicated my lack of upcoming plans. How can I be thirty without any plans? What do I have to show for my life?
And then God reminded me of this verse:
And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.
Looking back, I know that I have followed Jesus from a pure heart. I do not regret spending most of my twenties following Jesus and going across the world to be blessed and be a blessing, despite the criticism and opinions from others.
All major, life-changing decisions I have made have been out of faith that I was hearing God correctly and that He was guiding me – to leave my career, my family, my home, my comfort-zone, sell my car and spend all my savings. And I’m hanging on to the truth that following God’s voice, in faith, no matter what, is the right thing to do, even if it doesn’t look wise to others, and even if at times I hear him wrong. I’ve come to realize that it’s not up to me to hear perfectly, but up to Jesus being my good Shepherd, who is in control and far greater than my mistakes.
But you know, I really miss my car. I also miss my comfort zone. I miss many things, but I have also learned that I can’t really hang on to anything in this world. And this realization really has been a gift from God, since I’m often tempted to put my hope in these nice circumstances. But He has shown me that everything is passing away until His kingdom is eternally established. So what is the point of trying to hold on to what I find so lovely, like summer nights out in the city with friends, or sweet times with family at home? Instead, I will thank God for these times, and treasure them, but hold them with an open hand, putting all of my hope in Jesus instead.
And as I turn 30, I’m far from the picture of a woman who is totally secure with herself. I do not have it all together and I’m not perfectly self-controlled, but I am finally realizing that it’s okay.
I can laugh and learn, rather than condemn myself, when I accidentally buy a more expensive all-day train ticket instead of a one-way because I was in an unnecessary hurry, or when I take three wrong shuttles at the Frankfort airport because I read “Ukraine Airlines” as “United Airlines” because, again, I was in an unnecessary hurry, or when I left my backpack wide open on my back and my hand-luggage behind at the security line because one of the security workers was flirting with me and making me nervous, or when I spilled red wine on myself for NO APPARENT REASON as the flight attendant handed it to me (yes, this all happened on my previous journey home).
I have discovered a real friendship with Jesus, who accepts me and loves me despite my weaknesses because He chose to forgive me. The knowledge of His constant friendship helps in the process of growing smarter and enjoying life without needing to perform.
This is really a great treasure, to have a living friendship with the Creator. Otherwise, I really can find no meaning to life. But I find meaning each day when I wake up, reminding my heart that God is with me and that He is alive and in control of all things.
And I believe that none of us can be truly satisfied until we find meaning in Him, which I discovered more and more of over the past couple months when I led an outreach to Israel and Egypt.
On outreach, I really lacked comfort. I mean, I had a roof over my head, a shower, a bed, and food, but other than these accommodation comforts, there was nothing else in terms of familiarity for me to hang on to. Basically, God made it just hard enough for me to receive the blessing He so desired me to have.
No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
God could have given me more comfort, but He didn’t, and I believe it was because He wanted me to learn to trust that He alone was enough, and to not rely so much on having good feelings all the time.
Finally, after two and half months, I received the comfort of God that I really wanted yet admittedly lost hope for, the kind of comfort that brings so many good feelings that go deep and stay there. He has sent this comfort in small yet amazing and unexpected ways.
And I realized He wanted me to wait for His comfort because it took a certain amount of time for me to die to old ways of finding comfort – for example through familiar people and circumstances. He was making me ready to receive greater meaning and identity in Him, the one thing in this life that stays the same, the constant that will be with me no matter what age I turn and where I find myself.
So as I write this today, about a week into a new decade of life, I am filled with God’s love, comfort, and joy. I am very confident that whatever path God has me on next, that it will reveal to me a new side of God and free me into greater depths of love and joy never yet experienced. Therefore I am not afraid of getting older, especially knowing that wrinkles and worn down bodies will give way to something more glorious one day 🙂
But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.