Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Real Adventure of Life: Part 1

Hello Readers! 

I'll start this by saying it has been over two months since I last posted here, and while the reasons were not clear this summer as to why I had writers block, it is becoming more apparent to me every time I write a word here as to why it has been so long. It has been quite the adventure with Jesus this summer and my heart and soul are constantly learning what it is really like to pursue a life after Christ. What he is teaching me right now, in this moment is that sometimes life's biggest adventures don't include traveling the world and doing exotic things. While those may be desires and wants that I have (I very much do) those adventures  and experience do not: define who I am, make me more or less saved or make me a more valued human. 

If you are anything like me, settling is hard and in lots of cases isn't an option. You want the best and hardly give the time of day to anyone or thing that doesn't measure up to what you want. This way of thinking has its positives, but in this summer's case my attitude and spiritual life experienced some major turmoil. For those of you who don't know me personally, I grew up in small town Iowa- and when I mean small that doesn't mean 10,000 people, it means less than 2,000. A classic Midwest small town in the heart of American soil. I moved away to study in Phoenix for college and was introduced to the culture and lifestyle of the city and west coast. Living in Arizona has been such a wonderful opportunity to explore God's glory there and when school came to an end I didn't want to leave.

Plans needed to start being made for this summer during my second semester (this spring) of school. With that said I sought the options of serving at a Christian Camp I had served for four years or finding a job on campus so I could stay in the comfort of my new friends. Living at home didn't seem to be an option, and if I am being honest my pride is what made me hesitant. I see that clearer than ever as I write and reflect and it hurts me to the core that I have acted in such a way. My self righteous attitude led me to believe that I was too good to be stuck in podunk Iowa again. After all, I left to seek adventure and Jesus' purpose for my life, but the problem I see now is that although my intentions were good, I didn't need to prove myself to anyone, because Jesus has already proven himself to the world when he died for our sins. I know that God has placed me at GCU for a reason and I am forever thankful for that. But over the past year I have seen that although my intentions were good, they were probably underlined with ulterior motives to prove "superiority" to the Midwest culture. 

Despite the love I have for my family and a few friends back home I was too proud to consider living back in Iowa for four months, to me it sounded more like a punishment. My roommate and best friend can attest that deciding on plans for the summer was incredibly difficult and frustrating for me. I spent many of my days being consumed with what I was supposed to do. To this day and until eternity I am so thankful that Hayden called me out and was brutally honest with the way I was acting. It was clear to her where I needed to be, but I had no desire to seek God's plans, so I succumbed to my own selfishness. Little did I know that while I was trying to find the best option for myself, I was unintentionally and blindly hurting my family. I had stopped asking God how he wanted to use me and instead made plans that were for my personal benefit and gain. The adventures I hoped and dreamed for were the ones I wanted to do and so naturally I tossed aside the adventures that seemed to "common" or "mediocre". Friends, I was basically disregarding the plans Jesus had already set out for me. I desired (and continue to desire) to live a life that is extraordinary, but Jesus shows me now that in order for his love to be extraordinary and  for him to use me in extraordinary ways I must be content with doing ordinary things. Because only when I commit to living an ordinary life  is his extraordinary love and plan revealed. Woah, the Spirit is moving. 

Phillipians 2:3 says, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility value others above yourself, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interest of others." 

I came across this verse recently, and it crushed my spirit. Its says do nothing for selfishnesss but rather for selflessness yet here I was pursuing my own passions, forgetting that I may be hurting people in the process. Though it is true I am no longer dead to sin, that doesn't mean that I will never make mistakes. I will, we all will. We will continue to mess up until our souls are united in heaven. It is so important, especially in times of trial, why God would sent his son to die for us, its simple: 

because he loves us
because he loves us 
because he loves us. 

Can you imagine that kind of love? 

I know that Philippians 2:3 directly applies to me this summer, and sitting here reflecting on my attitude makes me feel ashamed that I would think so highly of myself that I would think I have a right to plan my life. I gave up that right along time ago when I asked Jesus to be my Lord and Savior. Salvation is giving your life over to Jesus, no longer considering it your own. The fact that I struggle with controlling my own life just shows me yet again how much I really need Jesus. Right now as I write I am beyond thankful that Jesus gives me mercy and grace, despite my disobedience and doubts. Yet, it is in those times of disobedience and doubt that God takes you, breaks you and makes you whole again. It happens to all of us who pursue a life after Christ.

Stayed tuned to find out what happens next. 

In Christ, 

Taler Ray