Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Fight You Have to Lose to Win

It's not about you. Because if it was about you, it wouldn't be as good.

I've been on a journey home for a while now. For a long time, I've let mistakes and messed up situations in my past haunt my future. I truly felt that I was just a lost cause. I was too confused, too messed up, too anxious, too far gone, too whatever for God to ever restore in me whatever plan he'd once had for my life. Not only is that totally ludicrous when you think of what God means and who he is, but it is also a gross misunderstanding of the scope of His love for us.

Like most stories, this one starts some time ago. And also like so many stories, this one is rooted in a childhood dream.

When I was very young, I felt strongly like God was saying something to me about a covenant or a promise with Jacob, the guy in the Bible that fathers the twelve tribes of Israel. To be clear, it's not like the angel Gabriel came bursting out of the sky on a cloud with a trumpet and said those words to me in English. That's not to say that could never happen. I guess Elijah used to chill with the angels of Heaven all the time back in the day. But, I don't think God has to work that way in us. It was just a quiet confirmation in my spirit that happened one day when I was praying and I asked God to show me what it meant. I never did find out and as time passed, I convinced myself that I made it up and went about my life. It wasn't long after that at all that I started high school and essentially abandoned everything I knew. I made a big mistake and after that, I went into a tailspin. I let myself be convinced that I could never be what I once thought. I let myself be defined by a series of bad decisions for the better part of a decade.

My dream was stolen. Ruined.

Writing this now is not a decision I take lightly because, as it is with God, you never know who it could meet right where they are. Maybe writing this down is just something I need to do for me, but I really hope it isn't. That is the reason I am telling this story. I think my generation is full of dream chasers and yet, none of us know what we're chasing after. How are we ever going to fill that nagging void in our guts?

Just over a year ago, at 22 years old, I started to tip toe back into the idea of reading my Bible. I had picked it up a time or two in the years gone by, but I couldn't face the guilt when I looked at it for more than a minute or two. Dusting it off this time was really one of my first acts as an adult Christian.

Eight years after first hearing it, that thought about God's covenant with Jacob came back into my mind. I hadn't thought of it again, except in passing, in many years. So, I did what any millennial would do. I Googled it. What I found brought me to tears and as I began sifting through my Bible, I finally found the verse I'd been searching for my entire adult life without even knowing it. What I read was nothing short of God's supernatural will. (Insert part of blog where skeptics stop reading and feel well adjusted in their assertion of Christians as crazy people. Listen, I can't explain it either.)

We often worry about missing God's will for our life. I know I do. I'm always scrambling around trying to decide if I've made the "right" decision and wondering if I'll ever be truly happy. But, the truth is that God will even use our mistakes for His will to be done. His plans can never be upset.

What I found in my Bible said this...

*Genesis 28:15
I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I promised you.

Jacob is famous for his trepidation at following God's plan for his life. In fact, God later renamed him Israel, which means "wrestles with God." The lesson here is that it's no use wrestling with God.  The even bigger lesson here is that after Jacob literally wrestled with God in the desert, God touched his hip and it was broken. So, for the rest of his life, Jacob walked with a limp. He was a broken man, but God blessed him greatly. He was an extremely imperfect person, and essential to God's plan. Now he has an entire country named after him.

For so long, I let the ghosts of my past keep me from my future. I made so many excuses about how unqualified I was for the task. I put myself through so much punishment only to realize that I can't clean myself up. I CANNOT REDEEM MYSELF. The entire premise of this beautiful faith is the "come as you are" invitation from Jesus Christ himself. You don't need to clean yourself up or get your act in order before you meet Jesus. It's only after an encounter with him that you'll be changed from the inside out!

The beauty of this life lies in the fact that we will never, ever be worthy. But, I know the One who is.

You are not defined by your mistakes.

You are not even defined by your successes.

And thank God, because you are ONLY defined by the one who made you, which qualifies you for a life that will exceed even your wildest expectations.

*Isaiah 40: 27-31
Why would you ever complain O Jacob, or whine, Israel, saying "God has lost track of me. He doesn't care what happens to me,"? Don't you know anything? Haven't you been listening? God doesn't come and go. God lasts. He's Creator of all you can see or imagine. He doesn't get tired out, doesn't pause to catch his breath. And he knows everything, inside and out. He energizes those who get tired, gives fresh strength to dropouts. For even young people tire and drop out, young folk in their prime stumble and fall. But those who wait upon God get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles. They run and don't get tired, they walk and don't lag behind. 

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