Today was a little bit of an up-and-down sort of day. The first half was pretty regular, and then Biology class hit. Mrs. Houtman just read from the textbook for most of the class, and I was honestly pinching myself to try and stay awake. Partway through the class, my allergy medication started to kick into effect, and then I started getting these weird head rushes. Usually that happens if I’m not active at all. Then, either from the medication as well or just because of a lack of sleep, I started getting really tired. My eyes started to close on their own, but I struggled through and kept myself at least half-awake. I tried to keep my mind as active as possible; I started thinking about whether to just stay on the same bus after school and take the extra ten minute walk instead of possibly falling asleep on the bus and missing my stop.
Anyways, Math class rolled around, and Mr. C took us out to William’s for class. It was awesome. He bought us all drinks, and I got an iced cappuchino – it was amazingly good. That really woke me up a lot. So we sat around there for most of the class and just talked for a while; it was pretty fun, definitely one of the best Math classes I’ve ever had, anyway. We got back and waited around for Mr. G to stop teaching; as usual, he pushed it and went five minutes overboard. That was enough for Melissa and I to miss the bus, so we were standing around waiting for the next bus for half an hour. That wasn’t too bad; she kept complaining about how her arms were burning up, but she told me to feel them, and they really were steaming hot. I literally (well, okay, not literally) had second-degree burns on my hands after touching her arm. Anyways, it wasn’t too bad, and we got to chat for a little while as we were waiting. We caught the next bus, and that was that.
I got home, dropped my stuff on the ground, and went straight upstairs to my Bible. I can’t say that I’m to the point of David, being able to say “Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long” (Psalm 119:97), but I’m definitely starting to feel a huge passion to just dig into God’s Word. It’s strange, because for seventeen years, I’ve never felt anything like that. I’ve definitely felt the urge to want to dig into a big, delicious meal, but now I’m getting that feeling when I’ve spent a long hard day at school. It’s like I want to just sink my teeth into the Bible once I get home – spiritual nourishment, if you will. “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psalm 119:103) David definitely hit it right on the head with that one. Imagine the feeling you get when sinking your teeth into a big, juicy steak, and then translate that into spiritual terms, and you have what I’m beginning to feel. I used to do devotions mostly as a chore; I told myself that I had to do it, because it’d help me or something, and so I’d struggle to pick up the Bible and read a chapter. But now, I just can’t get enough. I’m disappointed when the daily inductive Bible study I’m going through doesn’t have that much for the particular day I’m on. I want to gain some spiritual truth for that day, or it just isn’t worth it.
I know perhaps it sounds strange, but this stuff really sustains me. No matter what you’re going through, the Bible has something to answer life’s questions with. And one of the biggest things I’m learning, basically because I’ve been studying Colossians for the last while, is that Christ is everything I need. I know I’ve already gone into a big long spiel on this before, perhaps like a week ago or so, so I won’t get into it again, but it’s just so amazing that I can’t even stop thinking about it. The more I think about it, the more I realize that Christ is the one person that will never, ever, ever, ever, ever let me down. And the even greater thing is that even if you don’t believe that, you can test it out and find out that it’s true. God is like, “Well it’s a free trial offer, and if you’re not satisfied, you have no obligation at all to stay.” I took Him up on the offer and came out so much better than when I started – and I know it doesn’t end there. God’s not finished with me yet. “In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:4-6) God’s got great plans for me, and I know that. I know that I’m a work in progress, and He’s continually molding me into who He wants me to be.
That may sound boastful of me, but it’s really not at all, because it’s nothing I’ve done. All I did was say to God, “Hey, if You want me, take me. I’ll trust that You’ve got something good for me, since You’ve told me that.” The change in my life has been phenomenal. I mean, I’ve never been a bad kid or anything; I’ve done some things that I’ve certainly regretted, but it’s mostly been the internal sins – nothing like murder or rape or anything like that. It was just my desires that weren’t in line with God’s, and once I surrendered them to Him, He’s given me new and better ones, and I don’t regret my decision one bit. I’d do it again in a second if I were given another chance to redo my life – only I’d do it sooner the second time around. He’s taught me so much, and I know that the changes I’ve noticed in myself are nothing I’ve done. I’ve tried to change myself before. For much of my life, that’s what I was trying to do. I was trying to save myself. For instance, I’d force myself to read the Bible daily to try and make myself a better person. But it was all on my own strength. It truly got me nowhere. It was quite pathetic, actually.
The change came when I just stopped trying. I was at the end of my rope, and I knew that nothing I could do would ever make myself a better person. I would just make progress in one area, and another area would take over and trap me. I just couldn’t get out. It was like getting trapped in thick jungle vines. You try and hack away at them, but other ones just start wrapping around you, and as you try and untangle yourself, you end up getting more tangled. That was me. At my youth retreat this year, I finally just said, “God, I give up. I’ve tried everything I can think of, with no success, and I’m sick of trying. I hate who I am, and I hate how much I’ve tried and failed, over and over and over. I know I can’t do anything, and so I’m just going to give You the few pieces of myself that I have left. Take them, and if You think You can do something with them, go right ahead.” I must say, He’s been hard at work in the last little while gluing pieces together and remolding me into who He wants, but He’s made amazing headway – much more than my seventeen years of work. I know I’m not finished, but I’m amazed at the progress. And the greatest thing about it was that I know it was nothing I did. I just can’t get over it.
With all that said, let me say this: I am so excited about tonight. Yes, tonight’s the first “Praise Party” at Central; from what I’ve gathered, it’s a time of Bible study and prayer, but in a smaller group setting. I thought it was a great idea from the beginning, and I am so excited to see what will become of it. I’ve been praying for it for the past little while, and just asking God to bless it. I know that He will, and I’m excited to see just how amazing it’s going to be. It’s just going to be a time when Christ is at the focus, front and centre, and I really think it will be beneficial for everyone who comes. The youth group has a great heart for God, and I know that if they let God take complete hold of their lives, they will be changed through this time together. It’s a time just to get closer to God and closer to each other at the same time, and I know that God’s just going to take us all places that we’ve never been. Can you feel my excitement? I don’t think I can express it well enough in words. There just isn’t a word to express it with. I am anxious, ardent, captivated, charged, delighted, dynamic, eager, ecstatic, elated, energized, enthusiastic, excited, exhilarated, exuberant, joyous, jubilant, juiced up, jumpy, on edge, on fire, overjoyed, passionate, piqued, pleased, spirited, stimulated, stirred, thrilled, vibrant, wild, worked up, and zealous. If you’re wondering, I got that all from a thesaurus – but the effect is the same. Can you tell how excited I am?
You might think I’m crazy. Actually, it’s quite likely. I think I’m pretty crazy myself. But I am absolutely convinced that this Praise Party thing is going to be amazing for everyone that participates, and that they will reap back what they put in, multiplied a hundred times. I know that God can do that, and I’m praying with all my heart that He will. I know He has great, great things in store for everyone in that youth group who follows after Him, and He’s just waiting for an opportunity like this for them to open up to Him and let Him pour in all the great blessings He wants to put into their lives. I know it because I’ve received just a taste of it myself. He’s given me just a drop in the bucket compared to the truckload of amazing things He wants to give me. Too often, people (including myself) go to God and just ask for a tiny little thing, and God’s up there saying, “What are you talking about?! I could give you so much more! Just ask for it!” We enter His throne room intimidated, and offer up a quick prayer asking Him to just get you through the day, or something like that. He’s saying, “That’s it? That’s all you want? Here I have a huge shipment of peace, strength, and faith just waiting to be sent out to your address, and I’m going to have to delay the order?!” It may sound a little extreme, but it’s the honest truth. His love for all of us is so great that I can’t even explain it. He deals out generously to all who ask, and here we are wondering if He really wants us to ask for it yet again. “Ugh, I prayed for peace just last week, so I really don’t want to bother God again; I mean, He has better things to do with all those wars going on and everything.” Are you crazy?!
Forgive me; I’m getting carried away here. But I’ve been learning this over the past little while. Everything we need is in Christ, like a massive storage room – it’s all ours, and all we have to do is ask for it. Yet we’re still more convinced that we don’t need that shipment, because we can do it well enough with what He’s given us already. I mean, He’s done so much for me already, so I don’t want to ask for more, right? With what He’s done, He deserves our eternal worship already, even if He never did another thing in our favour. But that’s just the thing. God gets disappointed when we think we can rely on our own strength instead of His. He so desperately wants to drench us with countless blessings, like a massive bucket dumping them from heaven right onto your head. He wants us to rely completely on Him, and when we don’t ask for His blessings, it’s the same thing as telling Him that we can do it ourselves. We have no reason not to ask Him for everything He’s got, because He’s glad to give it to us. It’s what makes Him happy. I mean, here He went and gave His most precious gift out of His eternal love for us – so if that’s not a hint at just how much love He has, I don’t know what is. If He’s willing to let His own Son die for us, don’t you think He can spare just a little bit of peace?
I’m reminded of a story I once heard that really drives this point home (if I haven’t already). There once was a beggar, living out on the streets. All he had was a bag of rice, and that was what kept him alive. It was his only food. Well, one day the king of the land went walking down the streets in a long procession. People were crowding the streets, and there sat the beggar, huddling with his bag of rice and just trying to keep from getting trampled by the masses of people lining the street. The king passed by the beggar, and then stopped, turning to face him. “Give me some of your rice,” the king said. Thought the beggar, “This rice is all I have to live on. If I give him my rice, I’ll die. But he also is the king, and I must follow his orders. What should I do?” The beggar thought for a moment, his eyes staring toward the ground to keep from making contact with the king’s gaze. Then he reached into his bag of rice, and pulled out two grains, handing them to the king. The king took them, then turned around and reached into a bag that his servant was carrying. He pulled out two gold coins, handed them to the beggar, and then walked away. As the procession passed on through the streets, the beggar sat and wondered what would have happened if he had given the king just a little bit more – or perhaps his entire bag.
I think that pretty accurately describes the situation we’re in with God. He’s waiting to receive what we have, and give us just a taste of the incredible wealth of blessings He has. All He asks is for what we will give Him. You can either choose to keep what you have for yourself, and receive just a trickle of what God has for your life, or you can give Him everything you have and trust that God will be faithful and just pour out His incredible blessings on your life. It’s your choice. Just know how much God wants to show His love for you. With a love like He’s shown, who could refuse giving Him everything?