We were are all experiencing a week from what seemed like Satan.
A week full of intense stress, intense studying, intense planning, and a week with intense demand. We all are unsure if we can make it to Friday because of all the things happening around us and inside of us; however there I stand, in a room full of college students from Berry and Shorter. I stand tall in a time of worship, escaping from the madness that my life is currently. We are all wholly trusting in the Lord to have His will in the midst of the crazy sequences of events.
I can hear only one thing: the voices of college students singing at the top of their lungs.
I can still hear our voices ringing in my ears, singing ever so loudly “you are good, good, oh; you are good, good, oh. Yes! You are good, good, oh!”
I sing this until I believe it. I was not going to stop singing until I was sold that God is truly good.
United we stand and united we sing. We sing united because we know that God walks with us through it all.
So, right now you’re probably thinking two things.
Thought number one being: “wow, Cassidy! You surely went MIA.”
You’re most certainly right. In all my time writing and ministering to you, I feel you may have discovered one thing about me and it’s this: I find writing isn’t the easiest thing. I have a pattern of writing and then not writing for a while, but I have come to find that it’s okay because God speaks to me when He desires to. Sometimes, it takes a while for Him to push me into a discovery or reveal something to me. I have had ideas come to mind, but I have not pursued writing about them, because everything is moving so quickly around me. I simply haven’t had time to think or to breathe; when I have had time, I choose to rest in the Lord through journaling or reading the Bible; desiring for rest in the insanity of my life has been something I am striving for.
Thought number two for some of you may be: “how is college going? How is life at Berry?”
All I can say to that question is a simple “wow.”
I have so many answers for that question that vary in complexity, opinions, discoveries, and challenges. I cannot answer that question all in one post, because my feelings and thoughts about being a college freshman are so complex. Being a college freshman is a development. This experience is a development through time, through years, through weeks, and through days. I plan to share this development with you throughout my years here at Berry College and beyond.
For now, I will say that the first month of freshman year has been a rollercoaster, but in spite of everything happening I am so in love with this adventure; I am in awe of everything the Lord is teaching me and everything I am learning about myself. I am beginning to discover what I am truly passionate about and how God will use my passions for His purpose; I cannot wait to watch my life continue to unfold here and share these stories with all of you.
And speaking of stories, I’ve finally got one to tell you.
It’s the story of God’s disposition.
Writing this blog is a deep and true passion of mine; I love nothing more than to write these posts, sharing my words, my thoughts, my observations, and my lessons. This is a ministry Steven and I have built together from the ground, up. Living in Him Alone is a place for both of us to utilize our spiritual gifts. His gifts are developing and seeing places for improvement and mine, using my words to speak the Gospel to others. We work together and hope that we can change lives, one post at a time. I love writing; however, sometimes while it comes natural to me, it also doesn’t. Sometimes, I find it to be a very difficult thing for me to write. My mind gets clouded with so many negative thoughts. I feel like I do not have adequate words to speak; I get so overwhelmed and question if I am actually communicating with all of you what God wants me to communicate. Sometimes, I feel as though God’s words aren’t coming out of my mouth, but rather His own. My head begins to think that I am not doing God’s will by writing this blog and then I just fall down a spiral of frustration and anxiety and disappointment.
This happened to me frequently throughout my absence. I tried to open up Google Docs and begin writing on any topic, but my head got too clouded. I was so focused on “what if I am not speaking God’s words” that I couldn’t even hear God. Then, I would get angry with God for the inability to hear Him speaking to me. The lines were crossed and I was unable to hear anything. I felt that instead of helping me along the way, God was in my way. It felt as though He wasn’t helping me along and He wasn’t speaking through me.
In short, I was too hyperfocused on the wrong thing.
I tried to write a few Saturdays before the home football game and I couldn’t handle it.
I was getting too frustrated and too angry with God that I had to step away.
When stepping away, I found myself caught in a God moment.
It looked like this...
Trying to combat the frustration was failing. I was texting Steven looking for some consolation; he was making good points, but he wasn’t resolving the frustration and negative thoughts weren’t going away. I was searching for God in the middle of this disaster.
It was windy. I stepped outside from Mary Hall and felt the gentle breeze blow through my hair, tickling my face.
It was sprinkling. I felt the large droplets of water cool my hot skin and trickle down my skin.
The destination of Valhalla (the football stadium) was clear in my mind and my feet were taking me there. Hillsong United was playing through my earbuds, because what else would I be listening to? And I was lifting up my anxieties to God, praying that He would take these negative feelings away; I was praying for Him to replace these thoughts with words, His words that would aid me to write this post. While the wind blew through my hair and raindrops evaporated of my skin I kept surrendering, singing the lyrics “it makes no sense, but this is grace. And I know you’re with me in this place.” In this moment, I had an intense memory, a God breathed recollection. Since the beginning of July, Steven and I have been studying Romans as regularly as possible.
Mini rave: Apostle Paul was honestly a genius in my mind. He always had amazing ideas; he always had just the right words to speak and he always knew what to say because he trusted the Lord would provide for him. He knew the Lord would always protect him and see him through all the troubles. I think his reliance and faith in the Lord is something beautiful and admirable because he just knew. He obtained peace and knew the Lord was making his paths straight. Gosh, he was a faith genius, and we truly can live by these words he writes to us. 10/10 would recommend the books in the Bible that he wrote.
Anyway, we have been actively reading Romans together. It’s been difficult to do this daily as our lives have gotten crazy with college, but it’s been so rewarding when we are able to crack open the word together.
There are two verses from Romans that weigh so heavy on my heart recently and I have been praying over them for many reasons, asking the Lord to speak to me through them.
So, without further ado here is the first verse I have really been meditating over.
And Israel, who seemed so interested in reading and talking about what God was doing, missed it. How could they miss it? Because instead of trusting God, they took over. They were absorbed in what they themselves were doing. They were so absorbed in their “God projects” that they didn’t notice God right in front of them, like a huge rock in the middle of the road. And so they stumbled into him and went sprawling. Isaiah (again!) gives us the metaphor for pulling this together: Careful! I’ve put a huge stone on the road to Mount Zion, a stone you can’t get around. But the stone is me! If you’re looking for me, you’ll find me on the way, not in the way.
Romans 9:27-33 MSG
And then Paul drops the Mic, walking off stage; he doesn’t need to say anything more.
He just leaves us with our mouths open to catch flies because the shock and truth in these words is utterly real.
I mean, people! Listen up! I ask you to reflect and take it seriously.
How many times have we gotten in our own way?
Really think about this.
How many times have you wanted that relationship, that promotion, that grade, that new job, that new internship, that new opportunity, that new leadership position, that chance, or whatever special thing in your life?
I bet you that this has occurred on more than one occasion and on one or more of those occasions, you’ve stood in your own way.
How do we stand in our own way exactly?
Personally, I think we generally stand in our own way in four specific situations: when we listen to our fear voices, when we create our own chaos, when we get inside our own heads, and when we become control freaks. All of these situations have one common thread: we believe we can handle them on our own. This is malpractice and we should stop it immediately. Here’s why.
Listening to your fear voice is ultimately one of the biggest things I find people of faith struggle with. It’s been said that listening to your fear voice is listening to the lies of Satan trying who is trying to pull you away from the Lord. The fear voices strip you of confidence, making you think you are not able to do the thing you are so called to do by the Lord. Maybe this fear voice is fearing failure, fearing rejection, fearing loss, fearing what other people think, or fearing letting yourself down.
Whatever it may be I find that when we listen to the fear voice inside of us, we stand in our own way. We can believe we aren’t going to get that thing we so desire, which creates a layer of fear. When we fear, we keep God out of the picture, because we think we can handle these fears on our own, which hinders us from being successful. How does this make sense?
Creating our own chaos is something I feel like we are experts in. I don’t know why we are wired to over complicate and over think the majority of things, but we just are. When we create our own chaos, we overwhelm ourselves to a level that is unmanageable which creates stress, tension, anxiety, and distrust. This leads to us being so stressed out that we miss the point, again leading us to stand in our own way, and leading us astray from God.
I’m an expert at getting inside my own head, which has been something I’m currently working to overcome. I am not a negative person; however the start of this year has set some small doubts and negative thoughts into my mind. I get stuck inside my own mind and convince myself that I’m incapable of achieving what I want. Then I start to envision myself believing these things and it’s scary. I stand in my own way when I start to get inside my own head and focus on my shortcomings rather than my strengths. Again, this keeps us from focusing on who God says our identity is and where it’s found, which is in Him.
We all want to be in control over every little thing. We want things to work out the way we plan them and the way we want them to happen. We want everything to go our way all the time. I wrote a post about this a few months ago; click here to read it. I am going to keep this short by saying, we stand in our own ways when we think we own the place.
A truth: God is in charge.
We are not and when we try to be, we stand in our own way, losing sight of the truth that God is sovereign over every step.
How many times have we fallen victim to our circumstances, stood in our own way, and wondered why God wasn’t present on the scene?
So many times.
Let’s discuss this common thread between all of these situations, shall we?
In each situation, the common thread that is sown in is a lack of trust in the Lord, a lack of eyes for His work, and a lack of faith.
“Okay, so?” is what you’re probably thinking. “Why does this have anything to do with my faith?”
Well, let’s talk about it.
We can become so absorbed in what we believe is right, our “God projects” as Paul called them, that we miss God right in front of our noses!
We think we are doing the Lord’s will when we are not.
We are not doing the Lord’s will because our lives are not utterly surrendered to Him; we say we want Him to work His will in our lives, but when it comes time for Him to do so, we get shy. We get frustrated that our plans and His plans aren’t the same and so we decide that God is in our way.
When we decide God is standing in our way from achieving our greatest goals, desires, and plans, something happens in exchange.
We keep God out of the picture; we stand entirely in God’s way, cutting Him from working His will in our hearts.
This is such an issue!
Haven’t we proven to ourselves by now that we can’t do anything apart from the Lord?
So, why do we even try?
I’ve been doing this recently with quite a few things, but primarily with my blog posts.
I would sit down to write and be utterly frustrated and irritated and speechless.
I would get so frustrated with God that He wasn’t giving me the words to speak.
I felt like he was totally in my way.
I couldn’t find Him where I was walking. He was distant and I felt like He couldn’t possibly be found on the path I was on. I got so caught up in the fact that I had to write this post and it has to be perfect.
We get so caught up in the idea that it has to be our own work, our own talents, our own accomplishments, our own plans, our own desires, our own everything, that we cut God out entirely, when He should be first.
Paul drops the mic again when he says this in Romans.
You are not doing anything; you're simply calling out to God, trusting him to do it for you.
Romans 10:10 (MSG)
And that’s the truth of truths, people and fellow blog readers.
We are trusting God to do it for us because, I cannot stress this enough, we cannot do it alone.
We. Cannot. Do. This. Alone.
We never were meant to.
God isn’t against us.
He is forever for us, His children and His creations.
I stumbled over the rock of Jesus the other day on the way to the football game and you guys, it was a beautiful moment.
So, remember that you have to trust the Lord.
You have to surrender daily. You have to know that He is going to work His will in your life. You have to walk beside Him through everything and remember He has His best intentions in mind for you.
He’s with you.
He knows what He’s doing and folks, He’s going to keep on doing it.
There is a stone on the way up the mountain that is desperately needing to be discovered by you. God is that stone on the way to Mount Zion.
This stone is covered in lavish and flourishing greenery.
The green is symbolic of God’s flourishing promises and lavish plans; you can only see one part of the green at a time as you walk; however, as you continue walking with the Lord, the green that was once far away and blurry becomes close and clear.
God is on the way… not in the way.
In your daily life, what gets most of your attention? Where are you pointing; what are you pointing to? Better asked: who are you pointing to? Are you pointing to Him?
Encouragement is a hard thing to tackle, but what if there was a way to break it down? Encouragement just becomes simpler when looked at through the lenses of faith.