The Journey

IMG_0181A year ago today I fell madly in love with God, my Savior and Redeemer. He literally plucked me out of the lifestyle I was living and turned me 180 degrees to follow Him. It’s been a beautiful walk, but to say the walk has been easy would be an understatement. It’s been more of a hike up and down a mountain. Let me paint a picture for you.

Picture yourself starting in a low valley of flowers, in awe of the majestic mountains surrounding you. Your goal: to reach the peak of one of the mountains. You start your walk at a leisurely pace, feeling wrapped up in the beauty surrounding you, carrying all of your hiking equipment and food. It’s all fine and dandy for a bit, and then you start your ascent upward and the task suddenly seems daunting. This is where you start to meet a little bit of resistance, but you continue onward and somehow still find some joy in the adventure. The pine trees now surrounding you limit your view. You can only see the path in front of you, but not where it’s leading you. You have faith that you will be led to the mountain peak even though you cannot see it. There are a few ups and downs, some twists and turns, a creek to leap over here and there. After a couple of hours, you finally reach the tree line, but you look up and can’t believe how far you still have to go. You rely on skills you have previously learned to keep you pushing on. After a few more hours of winding your way through rocky terrain, you’re exhausted. The end is in sight, but you just don’t see how you can make it the last bit of the way up the mountain. You look back at where you started, where you have been, and stand in awe. How was it that tiny little you started so low in the valley, but have made it so high? How did you survive the forest? The rock? You look back towards the peak. So close yet so far. Nevertheless, close to giving up, you trek on. Your body and mind are tired, but somehow you carry through. Finally, you’re at the top. Oh, how beautiful! You can see peaks for miles upon miles. It seems like the perfect resting place, filled with the grandeur of the view, but it’s time to move on. Starting the descent seems simple enough, and overall it is since you are filled to the brim with unexplainable joy from the journey. You make it down the mountain with a new outlook on the glory of it all. Then, you repeat it the next day.

Here’s where God comes in: He was there every bit of the way for the journey. In fact, the journey up and down the mountain was in service to Him, and even better, He carried you through the journey. He was your backpack, shoes, food, motivation and joy. He was and is forever your everything. Nothing can replace Him. No, the trek up and down the mountain wasn’t near as glorious as anticipated, but it was worth it, right? To catch just a glimpse of His creation from the peak was simply breathtaking. The joy from the journey was inexplicable; you’re left without words. You may have been brought to tears and believed you could not continue on, but the trials taught you to lean more into your Heavenly Father, trusting Him for guidance and life.

That’s what my year has been like. Right off the top of my mind I can identify three mountains God has gently carried me up, never letting go even when I turn away. His love is steadfast, merciful, and gracious. I am incredibly thankful for Him never letting go and drawing me back when I turn away. I promise you, He is worth it. Christ is worth the journey and the view. I am incredibly thankful to be worth it to God, that He would send His only Son to overcome death for you and me. For that, I daily give praise.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

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A Different Type of Freedom

Fourth of July. July Fourth. Independence Day. Whatever you want to call it, this date is celebrated here in the United States as the anniversary of the day the Declaration of Independence was approved and the Thirteen Colonies gained independence from Great Britain in 1776. (I’m not a history buff, so thank you for bearing with me during my “one sentence history lesson!”) Today, I am thankful for the independence and freedom I have here in the States, but IMG_0547.PNGI can’t help but think about a more significant freedom I have, a freedom I yearn for others to experience and I pray they find: freedom in Christ.

Flashback: Wednesday, June 22nd. I was absolutely filled to the brim and overflowing with joy. I was unexplainably elated, crying happy tears with no names. All I could utter was praise to God.
I tried to hold back the tears, but to no avail. And that was okay. When I finally got the tears under control, I walked into church and completely lost it again when two young boys in my mlkidz class ran up to me and hugged me. After having some alone time crying and offering praise, I held it together for mlkidz and continued on through the evening. I was thankful to see two of my good friends during service, who also helped me process through these crazy (but good!) emotions. It wasn’t until the next day that I was able to put words to my emotions: I was feeling total freedom in Christ instead of bondage in sin.

Here’s my point: I can’t explain the freedom found in Christ to someone who hasn’t experienced His love. My heart hurts for people who do not know Christ, both in this country and out. I daily pray for people, both people in my life and people I have never met, to experience Christ’s love and freedom. Tonight as everyone celebrates the freedom of this country, I can’t help but wonder what it would look like if the whole world were celebrating freedom in Christ. I picture it being absolutely beautiful, a beauty that cannot be described.