I can’t stop reminiscing about the early days of my Christian journey. It’s kind of interesting to me that this is happening. Often times I feel this way around the anniversary of the day that I gave my heart to the Lord, but that is nowhere near now. And that is also what is leading me to believe that this is all being put on my heart for a reason.
I’ve been reading a lot of the book of Isaiah in the past few days. I’ve finally gotten to those later chapters that I so wanted to get to in the beginning. And every other sentence, it seems, God is declaring over and over that He is God and there is no other. The first half of the book of Isaiah was all about God’s wrath. And now the latter half is all about God’s glory. And the two are inextricably linked. I’ve been ruminating on that for the past day or so. Basically, it all comes down to God’s glory being declared throughout the world. And God will do what He needs to do for His glory to be known. It’s amazing that He chooses to work through us. But the point is that He is working through us so that His glory may be revealed through us. He is our everything. He has blotted out our sins and transgressions and has adopted us as His own. It doesn’t get anymore amazing than that. But that must also be kept in perspective. When I read this verse yesterday, it really stuck out at me: I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins (Isaiah 43:25, ESV). It’s not about us. And that is exactly what I have been needing to hear lately.
After I came home from England, I had a really difficult time adjusting. First of all, it was simply hard to come back after being gone for so long. There was definitely an element of culture shock going on. But even after being back for a while, I was still floundering. I didn’t know how to live in the enormity of what I had experienced in England in the home that I left, where everything was exactly how I left it, yet I was irrevocably changed. My mentor from England emailed me a fair amount during that time, and she kept telling me that I needed to stop complicating things. I needed to just let God do what He was going to do. It wasn’t so much about me getting in the way of God, which I’m sure I ultimately did. It was more like me being aware that God was moving, and I just added more and more criteria to what that meant. Ultimately, God has called me to tell my story. I panicked when I came home from England because I thought that meant I had to write it right then. I complicated the call that God had placed on my life. And I still do that. My counselor berates me every time I say the word perfect because I’m constantly setting unobtainable expectations for myself. I know that God is sovereign and that He has a plan for my life. I know that He will do whatever He wants in my life. But I complicate things more when I put my own expectations on myself. Like I really need to add onto what God is doing! It really messes things up! And I feel like I’m sort of in that place again.
Between the pressures and requirements of my graduate school program, the difficulties of inviting someone to live in my home, contemplating moving, feeling exploited for my story, and knowing that it is time to start looking for a new church, it has been a hectic, hectic month. And somehow, even when my stress levels are at an ultimate high, I find a way to make them peak even higher. Yes, these have been stressful things, but instead of just letting them be, I fret over them. I put more pressure on myself to make decisions and to act a certain way. I make things more complicated than they need to be. And it is so tiring. I’m only human. That’s part of it. In some of the things I’ve been going through, I’ve really needed the time to think on things. But now it’s time to just let things be. Everything will work itself out the way it is supposed to. In the midst of all these struggles, the loudest voice shouting at me is that of my own story. I think that part of what has made me so upset recently about people only seeing my story and not seeing me is because sometimes that’s all I can see in myself as well. Sometimes I can’t separate myself from my own story, and it grieves me. But I know. Deep down inside I know that I am not my story. And not that I need proof of that, but if there ever was some, it would be the fact that God has called me to write my story, and at times it seems an impossible task. Yet I already wrote one chapter about a year ago. And that chapter is the boldest declaration of me not equaling my story. I started writing my life story by declaring that my story is not who I am. What a way a start! Maybe I should reread it. It surprised me even as I wrote it. But what I need to remember most in this time is exactly what God has been showing me through reading the book of Isaiah. He alone is God and there is no other. He will not share His glory with another. He is God and school is not. He is God and my difficult living situation is not. He is God and the unknown future is not. He is God and my story is not. He is God and I am not. He is God, and He alone defines who I truly am. And this is what He says to me: Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine (Isaiah 43:1, ESV). Right now that’s really all I need to know.
I’ve been thinking of the early days, as I call them, because they were the most uncomplicated days of my life, not that I knew it at the time. I struggled with a lot after becoming a Christian, but looking back on it now I can see that somehow, amazingly, I had it all figured out in the beginning. There truly is no other explanation for me coming to know God other than God literally calling me to Himself. He called me out of nowhere. And I gave Him my all. I had no idea what I was doing. I knew nothing about being a Christian. Yet I became one. I became a child of God. God showed me the way. On that spring night in upstate New York, I bowed down before the the One True God and I gave Him everything. I didn’t even know the enormity of the everything I was giving Him, and I still don’t, but I did anyway. In that first prayer I gave Him all of me to do with as He pleased for all of eternity. And although I would say I definitely had a bit of an identity crisis for a while, I knew who I belonged to. And I knew that God was bigger than anything I was going through. I knew that He would work everything out. He filled my longing heart. I had such a simple, child-like view of Him. And I trusted Him implicitly. Somehow I had it all figured out. I want to get back to that. I think that God is granting me the freedom to linger on the early days, the uncomplicated days. Maybe I can learn a few things from what God was doing in my life at fifteen. He was everything to me then. And He is everything to me now. I have lived a lot of life since I was fifteen, but God is still God. And He will always be bigger than it all. God says that He will not share His glory with another, and right now I’m amazed at His glory and loving guidance in the beginning of my Christian walk. Maybe that’s what He wants me to see. He has called me to be His own so that He may shine His light and glory through my life. And I just want to let it shine.
Everything that God has done in my life has been for His sake. It’s time to take a step back from all the stresses of my life and remember that it’s not about me. It never has been. He will not share His glory with another. He alone is God. And I am His. It’s time to rest in that.