Great Expectations

My Czech trip had a really strange ending…after being stranded in European airports for a few days, I made it back home after a 26 hour day of traveling.  Jet lag has been my adversary for the past six days as I have tried to see the people I love and jump back into my real-life routine.  Beneath the excitement to see everyone and my physical battle to stay awake past 8pm, there has been an internal, spiritual struggle.  This struggle, I am realizing, is probably due in part to the entirely draining experience of being stranded in a foreign country and attempting to make wise travel decisions while entirely sleep-deprived.  However, I think part of it can be attributed to a spiritual battle.  We read about spiritual warfare in the Bible but too often gloss over it.  But I believe it’s real and for the past week or so, I think I have been in a tug-of-war in this battle.

Let me explain.  When I was in the Czech Republic, God really encouraged my heart by surrounding me with believers (none of whom were actually in my program of study…go figure – God likes to surprise us!) and He taught me a TON about international missions, which I was passionate about before I even ventured out on this trip.  The day before I left Prague, I prayed with my good friends Angelo and Jakub and then met another girl (who actually WAS in my program) who was a believer and had the chance to pray with her.  I was on fire, I was excited about coming home, and I felt super fueled to share all that God had done.

Then I got stranded in an airport for two days, wasn’t sure what God was teaching me, heard a voice of rebuke at one point and was so sleep deprived that I still don’t know if it was God or the enemy, and made it home exhausted, discouraged, and a bit confused.  After some rest, I am happy to say that the ending definitely did not spoil my trip.  However, it did take out a little of the zeal I was feeling the day before I left the Czech Republic.

So why did I mention spiritual warfare?

Because I KNOW that God’s purposes for me in Czech are related to His purposes for me here.  I know the revelations He gave me there are meant to affect my ministry here.  And I know that the enemy would totally love to destroy that spirit of joy and that sense of hope and peace and excitement that I had.  I also think that the enemy has tried.  And is still trying.  My luggage was lost – big discouragement.  A couple days later, my luggage was at the Nashville airport.  Big encouragement!  If we take a look at the scoreboard, the enemy is definitely down by a few points, but that doesn’t mean that I have fully recovered from some of the blows that were dealt and have completely rejected all of the lies I was fed.

One of the lies is that since home is comfortable and familiar, I don’t have to be as intentional about seeking God first.  There is the lie that since I am back in a “Christian” culture (I totally say that tongue-in-cheek…compared to Czech, the American culture is much more “Christian,” but our culture hardly imitates Christ) I can be lazy about how I spend my time, what I choose to talk about with my friends, and how I react to unforeseen situations.

I can never be lazy about any of these things because to be lazy and unintentional is to be selfish.  I am not my own.  I was bought with a price.  Jesus said I must ABIDE in Him.  If I am abiding in Him, then all of my actions, reactions, thoughts, feelings, etc. will be flowing out of the love and grace and truth that He supplies.

Abide in me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.  I am the vine; you are the branches.  Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

-John 15:4-5

Oh yeah.  And then there’s that part.  I can do NOTHING apart from Christ.  So I better work on that whole abiding thing EVERY day, first thing, so that I don’t miss out on what He is trying to show me.  The days that I try to function out of my own strength instead of surrendering to Christ first are the days I feel the most weak, helpless, and ineffective.

But back to the verse…I can do nothing apart from Christ and I can’t bear fruit apart from Christ.  The good thing is that He WANTS to abide in me, so I just need to abide in Him daily.

That’s what this blog is about.  I get that daily life doesn’t seem as exciting as a trek across the world and back, but in reality, the life of a believer should be so radical that EVERY DAY is an adventure.  And I should be abiding EVERY DAY so that I can see the things that I would miss otherwise.

Honestly, I think it’s a lot harder to see the things God is doing in our everyday lives because we are not used to expecting big things  in our everyday lives, which is totally contrary to what God teaches us in His Word.  Pretty much every Bible story shows an average Joe going through life and then all of the sudden, things get crazy when God shows up.  Too often, though, we forget that the people we read about in the Bible are just like us – regular, ordinary people who God chose to use for His extraordinary purposes.

James 5:17 says “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours.”  He was like us.  And God did some crazy amazing stuff through His life.  Because He abided.

So why blog about it?  Because I think as Christians, we need to encourage each other to look for God to work in BIG ways in our everyday lives.  We are called by God to be set apart and holy.  We are not supposed to have common lives.  We are supposed to live as we are led by God.  And most of the time, God does not lead us in predictable ways and does not call us to lead boring lives.

Let’s not forget…let’s have great expectations.  And let’s encourage each other with truth so that as we abide in the Vine, we can be fruitful branches.

So here’s to today and here’s to the future – that we may have eyes to see and ears to hear as God speaks into our lives and makes it anything but ordinary.

Hopefully yours,

-s

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