A year of growth

Hey everyone.  I hope everyone is enjoying this beautiful fall weather as much as I am.  Winter used to be my favorite season, but I think fall is going to overtake that number one slot this year.  I am enjoying the beauty of the season and 1) it isn’t even technically fall yet, and 2) the leaves haven’t even started changing colors.  Though, football started last night and I can comfortably wear a jacket and jeans to and from class.

I’m sitting on my bed on this beautiful Friday afternoon with the window open, observing the outdoors, listening to Radiohead, and drinking a Vanilla Coke Zero (I was off of pop for over a year, I drink it occasionally now).  I am compelled by the beauty and peace that always comes about this time of year.  I love it so much.

Anyway.

Some of you know this about me, and others don’t, but I have this subconscious tendency to, seasonally, if not daily, think about where I was this time last year.  This is not limited to physical location, but it includes: spiritually, emotionally, academically, relationally, etc.  You know when your mind wanders in class or whatnot?  Yeah, well when my mind wanders, this is one of the many things I think about.  Sometimes it’s nice, sometimes it’s depressing.

Today, it’s amazement.

I am amazed at how much God can break, mold, and grow a sinner in a matter of about a dozen days short of 365.  Only by the grace of God am I where I am today spiritually, relationally, and emotionally.  I am profoundly thankful that God has reconciled me to himself, and did not allow my youthful passions, my idolatry, lead me astray.  In the past year, God broke me, rearranged me, and put me back together in a stronger, more reverent form than before.  He did all of this for his glory, not mine.  He broke me and rebuilt me so that he could show his perfect love and faithfulness through my brokenness and reconstruction.

Around this time last year, you would have found me distraught, confused, and angry.  I did not lose sight of God, it was not he with whom I was angry, rather I was angry at myself for foolishly making idols and putting them before my walk with Christ.  When one idol failed to be the God I made it, I turned to another idol.  Almost instantly, in less than 24 hours, that idol shattered and I was left flat on my face.  While neither idol was inherently bad, one can value a good thing too much.  Being flat on my face was a good thing because I ought to have been prostrate in front of my Lord of Glory, worshiping him rather than my other foolish endeavors.  Thing was, I was too ignorant to do that on my own, so God had to do it for me.  That was God breaking me; it hurt.

Then, throughout last school year, God grew me in reliance on he and he alone.  God grew me in my prioritization.  God gave me a better feel for what it was truly like to make everything (academics, relationships, studies of all sorts, etc) about him.  While there is no sacred/secular divide, it is imperative that, as Christians, we learn to connect everything back to the cross, and the sacrifice God made there for us.  God has really disciplined me in that area since this time last year.  Specifically in the emotional trauma of last fall, God taught me that glorifying him isn’t always going to be comfortable for me, and that he will do anything to make his adopted sons return to him.  When we leave the foot of the cross, God is quick to make us return.  And because he is not out for our begrudging submission, he will “help” us realize we need him (which is often somewhat painful for us).

Also I truly began to fear God.  Proverbs 9:10 is only one of many references for the fear of Yahweh in Biblical wisdom literature.  It reads, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” I began to explore what it looks like to fear God.  I believe that this grew me in my walk with Christ.

But one of the things I truly worked on most was how to love others in the most Christ-like way I can.  Many of you know that I can present the truth with no issue, but that, I often have trouble doing so in the most loving, compassionate way possible.  I really worked on this in the last year.  In addition to that, I worked on how to love others better in relationships both with my friends and those of the opposite sex.  I better learned how to be friends with a girl without getting too involved emotionally.  Over the course of the year I really grew in self-control in that aspect.  When, by spring, I was able to draw lines where they needed to be drawn.

And now, after that BRIEF summary of various ways in which I have grown over the past year of so, here I am today.  I am enjoying life and God’s many graces more thoroughly than ever before.  God has wonderfully blessed me with great friends, a loving family, smart professors, Godly counsel, and a Christ-centered relationship with my lovely girlfriend.  The last of which is only possible because God’s glory is shown in supernatural ways through the testimony of that six year journey (that is another story for another time).

In less than a year, God has grown me in many, many ways.  I am so thankful for his never-ending pursuit of me and his sovereign will that I am destined to fulfill as I pursue Godliness.  I cannot wait to see how God continues to grow me in the next year.  I pray that he continues to teach me how to love like Christ loves in every relationship of which I am blessed to be a part.

I am so content in simply resting in the peace and joy that comes with the graces so sovereignly provided by my Savior.  A cross-centered life allows Christ to permeate every facet of your life.  And as a result, you find joy in not only times like these, but also in times of struggle.  Rejoice in the LORD always.

And those who know your name put their trust in you,
for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you.
–Psalm 9:10
-Chris
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