During our senior graduation in May, I was asked to be the one to give the student speech. Knowing I couldn't allow myself not to, I searched for a verse that would apply to what we were going through at this stage in our lives. After some thought, I went with Paul's words in 2 Timothy 4:7 where he says, "I have fought the good fight, I have kept the faith, I have finished the race."
While this verse was taken out of context as none of us were at the end of our lives at graduation (I hope :S), I believe it was still possible to resonate. Though we were still young, there was still this transition taking place, this change from one chapter of our lives to another.
Possibly one of the most oddly-amusing things about us as Christians, generally speaking, is that we can get so caught up in service to God that we forget to stop and listen to Him. And, as a result, we end up draining ourselves, in the spiritual sense, because we no longer find the time to actually sit down and listen.
Again and again in the Old Testament, when God spoke through the prophets to Israel, He returned to the theme of His desire for justice, godliness and mercy rather than sacrifices and burnt offerings.
When we think about such attributes as justice, mercy and godliness. These aren't things we can simply go through the motions with. They are unable to become a mindless action we do each day because of their reliance on the condition of our hearts and minds. And the only way to maintain such a condition would be to be in that continual connection with God. Such a condition which can seen in Scripture:
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, "Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." (NIV)
It can be easy to simply give God our burnt offerings in life without allowing it to transform us. We can appear godly without being godly.
But this has always been far from what God desires.
And here's the thing. When we truly begin to actually try to make a difference for God, rather than simply going through the motions, we come across resistance. The devil places barriers in our way and it exhausts us over time. We may not realise it at first but, slowly, it begins to impact us. We slowly feel the fire for God that we once had being drained in our lives.
And it dawns upon us that we need to simply stop and reconnect with God.
There is nothing wrong with this.
Now for some of us, this may be easy to do on a regular basis. But sometimes, it can be easy to forget the importance of stopping and resting and giving God a chance to show us where we need to re-evaluate and re-prioritise in our lives, because for all we know, He may just been closing some doors while opening others.
And God will use His Word and those around us to grab our attention. As Scripture testifies:
Hebrews 4:12, "For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." (NIV)
One verse in particular that He has kept on my mind is this:
James 3:1, "Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly." (NIV)
This has always been a verse on the edge of my mind, reminding me to tread cautiously and now, it is a reminder that I must stop where I am and re-evaluate my faith so that I may reconnect with God. It is for this reason that this will be the last blog post.
God doesn't want us to simply run on faith reserves. He wants us to move on the full power of His Spirit, but the choice is ours as to which one we choose.
And so, regardless of where we stand whether we need to reconnect and re-evaluate ourselves in God's will or we're firmly in step with Him, let us remember to recall Paul's words in Acts 20 and never lose sight of Christ in our lives.
Acts 20:24, "However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me -- the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace." (NIV)
God bless you all.
"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:13 NIV