So you might have realised that my blog name has changed. After nearly 3 years I was ready for a change. When I first started this blog, I didn’t really know what I wanted it be, it started as random musings and some short stories. It was nothing major, hence the the name. But as my blog has changed and developed, I felt the name was incongruent with my subject.
One day last year I sat down at my laptop with a purpose. I wanted to write something that was different to my usual blog posts but I knew it was important. I was nervous, I knew that some of the people reading my blog at that time wouldn’t like it, but it was too special not to share. That was when I first explicitly wrote a post about faith and loving Jesus.
That post was appropriately called “Be Bold”. I realised that I had this amazing tool and platform to share God’s love and write down my thoughts on faith and how I find life as a Christian teenager. Writing these posts is something I really enjoy doing and the feedback and encouragement that others have given me has really motivated me to keep going.
However , as I said it was time for a change. Jesus isn’t someone who should be a “little thing” in my life. He owns my life, our purpose on earth is to live for Christ, but how can I possibly do this if he is only a small part of my life?
Im not saying that through changing my blog name that I always put God first and sacrifice everything for Him. I would love to say that is the case, but unfortunately it’s not that easy. Luke 6:45 states “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” As Christians we should strive to have the Holy Spirit fill our hearts and to share his love with everyone.
The thing is a lot of the time we find this so hard. That’s because our heart is so full of other things that there is no room to be filled with the Holy Spirit. This calls us to examine our hearts, to rid it of the distractions which the devil places there and make room for God to fill us with his spirit.
During the summer I was walking by the river in Bushmills and stopped to watch the river. As I was doing so my brother pointed out a fish which had just jumped out of the water, but I missed it. So I continued to watch, and continued to miss the fish, and always just saw the ripples they left behind.
This day came to mind the other day as I came across a quote in the book I’m currently reading, Crazy Love by Francis Chan, which said “Are we in love with God or just His stuff?” This really challenged me and showed me that just like I was missing the fish it’s easy to get caught up on all the little things surrounding Christianity and miss the most important thing, God.
It’s so easy to just focus on the amazing tune of that worship song, the amazing time you had at camp, what mission trip to go on… the list goes on, but sometimes we need to strip it all away and focus on the cross.
In John 15:13 it says “There is no greater love than to lay one’s life for one’s friend.” I feel like this perfectly sums up what Jesus did for us on the cross. Focusing on what He has done and his love for us makes it easier not to get distracted by other stuff. After all “We love because He first loved us.” Our faith stands upon not only what God has done for us but what He continues to do. This little reminder helps me to fall in love with God all over again and focus on Him not just “His stuff”
“Back to school”, for many, including myself, these are three words that we dread to hear. After being on a high after yet another amazing summer it’s now time to return to routine. Most of my summer was spent at camps and residentials and at the majority of them I was surrounded by other Christians with similar beliefs to myself. It was so easy for me to speak openly about my faith and relationship with Jesus whilst I was in that environment. However I know that when you return to normality and school/university/work life it can be so much harder to be as open.
Sometimes we are put in situations where we feel like we are the only one with your beliefs, like it’s you against the world. But it isn’t. We are reassured so many times in the Bible that we are never alone and God will never leave us. In Genesis the Lord speaks to Jacob in a dream, proclaiming, “I am with you, and I will protect you.” (Genesis 28:15) and if this isn’t enough assurance in Joshua 1:9 it says “For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Isn’t that amazing!
When we find ourselves in scenarios where you seem to have a unique opinion to everyone else, it can sometimes make yourself doubt whether your opinions are right, I often ask myself “If everyone else thinks that, why don’t I?” When I feel like this I need to remember that it’s the devil placing these thoughts in my head. A verse that really helps me ignore these doubts is Romans 12:2 which says, “Don’t copy the behaviour and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.”
Another thing that has really challenged me in the past when I feel embarrassed to share my views if they aren’t the same as someone else’s opinions or that wouldn’t particularly please them, is the question, “who do I aim to please in life?” I am the sort of person who always wants to please people and I don’t feel happy unless they are happy, I’m sure many of you are the same. The problem with this is I find it hard to say something when I know they disagree with it. I know in my heart that in life I should aim to please God as it says in Deuteronomy 10:12, “He requires only that you fear the Lord your God and live in a way that pleases Him and love Him and serve Him with all your heart and soul”. This tells us that we need to always put God first and not compromise our views to please others. However we still have to be respectful and sensitive of others and their beliefs.
It is important to remind ourselves that it’s ok to think differently, if you respect others for having their own opinions, even if they aren’t the same as yours, they should hopefully return that respect to you.
“Am I a God who is near,” declares the LORD, “And not a God far off?~Jeremiah 23:23
Recently I watched a film called “The Giver”, which follows a guy from a “perfect” future community who has to receive memories from the past in order to learn from the mistakes made throughout history. The community never go beyond their town’s border and are oblivious to the rest of the world. They call this area “elsewhere.”
In one scene the main character sees “elsewhere” for the first time and is shocked to see how close it is. He says “they always say elsewhere is so far, but it was right there.”
This got me thinking about our perception of God. Its easy for us to see Him as someone who is so far away. We look high into the sky for Him, when really He is right next to us.
Our God is not a God who is distant to us or who backs away when we sin or things are going badly. In fact, He does the complete opposite. In Psalm 34:18 David explains that “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those whose spirit’s are crushed.” When life isnt going as we planned, it’s hard to see how God is in the situation but it’s important to remember that God never gives us something that we can’t deal with, we never have to go through anything alone as it is not through our own power that we overcome, but through the power of the Holy Spirit. He will draw near to us in our suffering if we call upon Him.
God loves us and is with us not from afar, but right beside us everyday for the rest of our lives.
Imagine you are trapped in a small glass box. The only way you can get out is to smash the glass box. However this leads to you getting cut with the shards of glass. The pain takes up all your attention and you forget you are no longer trapped in the box.
Sometimes things happen in our lives which cause us pain; physically, mentally or spiritually. When things like this happen it’s hard to see how this could ever be part of God’s plan for your life. A lot of the time when we find ourselves in these situations we focus solely on the hurt and find it hard to see the bigger picture. All we see are the wounds from the shards of glass, however if we persevere someday we will see that we are now free from the glass box.
In John 13:7, Jesus speaks to his disciples and says “you don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.” Sometimes we can feel this way too, but from this verse we are given hope that although we have to endure terrible suffering it is for a bigger purpose. Of course, sometimes it can be so difficult to see this but if we put our trust in God and persevere we will one day be able to see the reason why.
One of the best examples of this, is surfer, Bethany Hamilton. When Bethany was 13 she was in a shark attack, whilst out surfing in her home town in Hawaii, causing her to lose most of her arm. Her main concern was that her accident would prevent her from surfing, and at first it made it much harder. But this amazing girl persevered and has now helped many others who have had accidents leading to amputations through her charity and despite her disability, became a professional surfer!
She is an inspiration to so many people and a great reminder that there is hope! 1 Peter 1:6 says “So be truly glad, there is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while.”
Remember, through Christ there is hope!