Monday, May 31, 2010

devastating hopelessness

Never before have I come face-to-face with the hopelessness of a life without Christ. No matter what happens, no matter what comes my way, I have always known that I could turn to my Savior, cast my worries at His feet, and live with confidence in His grace. We become so complacent there, losing the awe having of a personal relationship with God among the daily trappings of life, not realizing the treasure we have in Christ. If we truly saw the gospel of grace as a treasure, wouldn't we be more quick to share it?

A student at the school who I led at orientation and helped throughout the semester committed suicide last week. When I heard the news and let it sink it, I slowly became sick as the emotion overwhelmed me. When the tears started, I immediately opened my mouth to pray and then realized, what could I pray for? Ricky took his life, and is gone. I could pray for comfort for his father. I could pray that his brother doesn’t make the same choice. I could pray that somehow lives could be saved out of the tragic situation. But helplessness and hopelessness soon enveloped me when I realized – I couldn’t pray for Ricky. He made his choice, and his destiny is now set in stone. Never before have I found myself in a situation where I couldn’t turn the situation to God, because Ricky had already made a choice and sealed his fate.

The hopelessness that I felt when I realized there was nothing anyone could do for Ricky is what nonbelievers live with every day. What incredible emptiness it must be to face life’s trials and not be able to rest in the grace and mercy of a Savior! I can only imagine how this hopelessness surrounded Ricky as he gave up on his life.

Hearing of his choice, I became overwhelmed with guilt for not sharing the gospel with Ricky in the time that I had with him. Our purpose as Christians is to glorify God with our lives, sharing the hope of the gospel with those around us. How tragic to get caught up in the daily trappings of this life to the point that we forget by whose grace we are here!

When they say that death haunts you with questions of “what if”, that is an understatement. What if I had slowed down enough to see beyond the sadness in Ricky’s eyes to minister to him, and share the treasure of the gospel that I have been given?

I pray that we all learn to value the grace found in the blood of Jesus, not as a ticket out of Hell, but as a treasure to be passed on to those who are hurting around us.

Lord, let me never ignore an opportunity to share Your love.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Sanctuary Lives... is He enough?

I recently had 10 hours to kill in a car and listened to an old sermon I found in my center console (it was one of the few CDs which didn't suffer from an explosive ranch packet... thank you South Carolina heat). The sermon was from Josh Harris and reminded me of the hope that we have through Christ.

Living surrounded by non-Christians, or those who claim to be Christian and yet do not live out their faith can become discouraging. So many times I've looked at the lives of those who do not even seem to care to follow the will of God for their lives, and they appear happy, even blessed with many things that I can easily become jealous of. How is that I spend time each week pursuing God, often giving up opportunities because I know that it isn't what He wants for me, and yet they seem to live stress-free, easily going after and getting whatever their hearts desire?

Asaph expresses some of these feelings in the 73 Psalm:

"For I was envious of the arrogant
As I saw the prosperity of the wicked
Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure,
And washed my hands in innocence" (v. 3, 13)

Particularly recently I've found myself in Asaph's shoes, struggling to accept the fact that by choosing to keep myself pure I have come face to face with not only ridicule from others, but envy within my own heart.

Asaph quickly reminds us, however, that these struggles shouldn't matter if Christ is truly enough for us.

"Nevertheless I am continually with Thee;
Thou hast taken hold of my right hand.
With Thy counsel Thou wilt guide me,
And afterward receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but Thee?
And besides Thee, I desire nothing on earth.
My flesh and heart may fail,
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."

Asaph tells us that he "came into the sanctuary of God" and was there reminded of the fact that the wicked will receive their judgment in the end. Until then, why does it matter if they exalt themselves with pride? If God is truly all that we desire on earth, we should rejoice in the fact that He is reminding us daily of our need for Him.

Something to take away from the sermon is that we need to lay aside our envy of others and stop living in our own imagined future. Discontentment would not have such a strong reign in our hearts if we didn't create our own future in our minds. We become disappointed when life does not turn out the way that we want, but if we laid those desires aside for Christ, we would find our hope fulfilled in Him. If we fix our gaze on Him, we are able to step into His sanctuary. But we need to choose to draw near to God.

I desire to live a "sanctuary life", daily in the presence of God so that I am reminded and encouraged of the fact that He is all that we ought to desire on earth. No matter what happens within our physical surroundings, may He be the strength of our hearts... our portion forever!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

leaving the student behind

It's been one week since my graduation, and I've struggled every day to sit down and write something stirring to sum up the past four years of my life. Every time I try, nothing comes to mind that will do it justice. I've thought to make a list of all the things I was involved in, write out all the opportunities that came my way, or sufficiently describe how my life has changed, but nothing captures the feelings that are overwhelming me as I leave the title of "student" behind.

Last week, I stepped onto the makeshift stage outside the Hargray building of USC Beaufort, and accepted congratulations from the President of USC in the conferring of my degree. Four years of hard work, little sleep, memorization, and all-out commitment culminating in an hour long ceremony, two minutes on stage, and a few scattered pictures. Summa cum laude, and various other honors in tow, I stepped on the stage and stepped out of the role of a student once and for all.

So here I am, USC Beaufort's Student of the Year, winner of the Business Program Award, and the equivalent of valedictorian. Was it worth it?

The experience has been unbelievable. I have seen and done so many things that I could not have dreamed of when I graduated high school. And yet, my greatest hope is that I was able to touch others through the positions that I was given.

As I move forward, I pray that God takes the talents, knowledge, and abilities that He has stirred within me these past four years and that He molds them to His purpose. After the incredible experiences of college, I refuse to settle for a mundane existence, and look forward to the place He has prepared for me!

"...that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects..." - Colossians 1:9b-10a

We made it! Soli deo gloria.