{Unexpected Lessons}

If you don't know by now, I'm a journaling queen.  One of my favorite things to do is wake up really early, sip my coffee, read my bible and journal.  Writing down my thoughts and ideas, scriptures and quotes that move me, things that I'm grateful for, and daily prayers are a way for me to stay grounded and clear-minded (some days better than others!).  So why am I saying this?  Well, because this morning when I woke up I felt the urge to write my journal entry in the form of a blog, rather than in my little notebook.  Last night I experienced something that has left me quite reflective and I felt a little nudge in my heart to share it with you, or anyone that may want to read about it... 

I volunteer at "The Stand" at my church about one Thursday every month.  It's a place where first time guests at our church can come and get a free gift.  I love it because I get to meet new people that are trying out the church and because I get to give them a gift (who doesn't like to give gifts?!).  Last night was my night to work, and we all assumed that church would be deserted.  What crazy people want to get out when it's zero degrees or below!  Well, God proved us wrong and ended up bringing many more people to church than expected, which is amazing in itself!  

During service I sat towards the back and noticed a man about my age come in a little late.  I didn't pay much attention, but couldn't help but notice his oversized coat, overalls, and boots and the fact that he looked extremely cold.  I quickly averted my attention back to the sermon and didn't think anymore of it.  After service I worked at The Stand and was about to start packing up when our pastor brought the young man over that I had noticed earlier.  He was a first time guest and got to pick out a gift.  To be honest, the entire time I was working at The Stand I was keeping an eye out for him because deep down I wanted to talk to him.  I'm drawn to people and their stories... I believe everyone has a meaningful, important story.  A story that shapes them and makes them who they are.  A story that others can learn from.  And something inside my heart wanted to hear a bit of this man's story.  So there he was, as nice as can be and so happy to be there at church.  As he was filling out his first time guest card we chatted.  What turned into just a couple minutes ended up turning into almost a half hour of him sharing his story with me.  And it has definitely had an impact on me.  I'm not going to share what he told me about his life, because that's not my story to tell.  I do want to share just a few things that really hit me, though.. A few things that I think God wanted me to learn from this "first time guest"...

"I had it all but really I had nothing.  I asked God to humble me, and He did."  I learned that the man I was talking to (let's just call him "Joe") was a year older than me and very smart and talented.  He said he came to a point in his life when he knew he needed to change.  He "had it all" but knew it was all of the wrong things.  He said he prayed that God humble him and help him change.  And that's what God did.  What came as a result was a lot of struggle, hardship, and life learning experiences that he is still in the midst of working through.  But do you know what "Joe" said?  He said he wouldn't have it any other way.  That he knows this is what he needs to be doing to get back on the right track.  That he knows God has a greater purpose and plan for him and his life, and all he wants to do is follow His will no matter what the cost.  You all.... that left me speechless.  Seriously.  Who can honestly say that they would ask God to humble themselves, knowing that what may come is a lot of hard lessons to be learned?  Can I say that I would do that?  I know that I want to follow God, no matter where he guides me, but could I still say that if I knew that he would lead me down challenging paths?  I sure hope I would still say that...  I admire "Joe" so much for completely laying everything aside and allowing God to work in his life, even if it is difficult and a bit hard to understand.  I want to live my life like that.  With an unwavering faith and trust in the One who knows and understands my heart, my life, and what is best for me.  Even when I may not understand, He always does.  And I'm so thankful that Joe reminded me of that. 


"I always felt that I needed to fix myself before I came to God with my troubles.  But then I realized I couldn't fix myself without Him."    ....Wow!  I can't count the times I have felt ashamed or too stubborn to bring my messy life to the foot of Christ.  To let Him help me make it clean.  Instead, I felt like I could handle it all on my own.  That I knew the best way to figure it all out and make things better.  Then I could come to God and be "cleaned up" and He would be proud of me for getting it together.  How. Wrong. I. Was.  Christ doesn't care where we have been, what we have done, or how messy our lives are.  He wants to help us clean it up.  He knows where we have been, what we are going through, and where we are going.  He knows the plan He has for us, and all we have to do is reach out and take hold of Him.  To let down our guard and allow Him to come into our lives and work together so that we can become the best version of ourselves.  God wants you right now, as you are, where you are.  He knows where you need to be and He knows how to get you there.  He is a kind-hearted, loving God, and He doesn't care how messy your life is.  He won't leave you there, though.  Like Joe said "I can't fix myself on my own.  I realized I need Him to help me."   I'm grateful for the reminder that it doesn't matter what I have done or how many times I mess up, I can come before Christ and He can help me clean it up.  He loves me, forgives me, and is always helping me become my best self.  


"I just wanted to be around positive, happy people that love the Lord like I do."  You all... Joe WALKED MILES to get to church.  In the FREEZING cold.  And he had miles to walk to get home in even colder temperatures.  All because he wanted to be in an environment that felt like home.  With people that accepted him and had the same love for the Lord as he does.  This is what really got to me... Because I know that I wouldn't walk miles and miles, to and from church, in below ZERO temperatures, to spend about an hour and a half to hear God's word and be around others that love Christ. (side-note: our pastor gave him a ride home!)  I am a Christian.  I love God with all of my heart.  I say that I would leave behind everything to follow Him.  But under what circumstances?  This realization has left me with a lot to think about.  I'm deeply inspired by Joe and his urgency to seek God with all of his heart in order to live the life God has intended for him to live.  I have a lot to learn from Joe.  He said "I had it all, but realized I had nothing.  Now I have it all and I'm getting my life back on track."   Others may look at Joe and see someone that doesn't have much.  But don't be deceived.  He has Christ on his side.  He has God's hand on his life.  He has a trust and faith that are inspiring.  His exact words... " I want to turn my life around, and I want to give God all the glory so that others may be encouraged and be drawn to Christ as well."  


{ Lord,  thank you for teaching me lessons when I least expect it.  For placing people in my life that have something to teach me, even when they don't realize it.  Thank you for humbling me and helping me realize that even when I feel like I have it all together, I'd be nothing without you and your grace.  Thank you for always knowing what is best for me, even when I don't know it myself.  I pray that you lift up "Joe", or anyone that may be in a similar situation as Joe, and help them continue on their path of renewal, with you closely by their side.    Thank you for being a kind and loving God, and thank you for never leaving my side.  Amen. }

Kelly LovanComment