Tag Archives: Faith
As someone who grew up in the church, I consider myself pretty comfortable around the Lord’s Prayer. I’ve heard sermons about it. I’ve recited it countless times. Like many passages, I easily quote it without really thinking about it. But yesterday the pastor at the church I attend here in Bangkok made a few points about the Lord’s prayer that I never really heard before. One in particular stuck out.
For those less familiar with the passage, the prayer comes from Jesus in Matthew 6:9-13 when he instructed his disciplines on prayer:
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from the evil one.
The phrase that really popped out to me from my pastor’s preaching was the “your kingdom come” part. Previously when I heard those words, I assumed they only meant something along the lines of, “Come back faster, Jesus!”
But my Pastor pointed out that God’s kingdom resides in us through the Holy Spirit. Thus, “your kingdom come” is also a call to action. God, your kingdom come. Send your people. Be moving and working in us!
In fact, the broader sermon discussed how the Lord’s Prayer goes hand in hand with the Armor of God. I don’t think I can do adequate justice to the subject, but it really got me thinking because the Armor of God is another part of the Bible I easily glaze by. But if we’re truly asking God to send us, we should be armoring up!
Did you ever play the game telephone? Everyone sits in a long line and the person at one end tries to send a message to the person at the other end, but usually it gets terribly convoluted along the way?
Today I went to a Chinese church and that is how it felt.
The pastor spoke in Mandarin. A Vietnamese guy then turned and translated in English to my friend whose native language is Karen.* She then turned, giggling, to explain it to me.
I think the sermon was about the Holy Spirit.
The only part I did understand was a video of an Indian man with a heavy Australian accent talking about Pakistani refugees. Quite interesting.
Overall a strange but fun experience.
*I apologize if Karen is not actually a language. She is Karen. I’m assuming her native language is Karen as well, but the internet tells me the Karen people speak at least 3 different types of languages depending on where they originate so I’m not sure “Karen” is a language.
At the end of my adventures in Idaho last summer, I wrote a blog post where I talked about finding a new side of myself. I, bookworm and indoor aficionado, learned to sleep under the stars, hike for fun, and white water raft. Part of the appeal of going to Colorado this past summer was the idea of further developing this new side of myself.
And in a way, it was. I camped. I hiked. I white water rafted. (It is a lot more fun without the raft of paranoid middle school girls.)
Yet looking back, I would not say this was a summer of discovery. Rather, it became something more precious: a summer of remembering.
Law school is stressful. It is a melting pot of emotions and nuances and feeling like a failure. I emerged war-torn and exhausted. Going to Colorado felt like a terrible idea. As the weeks leading up to my departure became days, I kept wondering if Young Life would really would miss me too much if I just…didn’t go? After all, they’d told me there were two legal interns. Maybe they didn’t need me?
I knew better than to bail last minute, though, so I got on my plane, read 4 books, and started a truly amazing internship. What made it amazing?
- I had work that mattered and that I loved.
- I worked with incredible people who made me feel loved.
- I lived with 8, wonderful, sometimes crazy women who loved me and took the time to let me know it.
- I participated in an internship program that provided mentors, speakers, and a small group that all poured into me and left me feeling…you got it, loved.
- Finally, I got hour after luxurious hour to read and think and be alone, to truly love myself.
The theme you should notice is that I was spoiled this summer. I was spoiled because people treated me like someone remarkable, someone smarter and funnier and more pulled together than I ever felt. They made sure to invite me to all their activities and never took offense when I declined to instead stay home and read. I always felt included but never pressured. And considering how many times I turned them down to read, that is saying something.
Yet while I felt beloved for my reading and bug-killing abilities, I also felt the love did not stem from my personal attributes. I was surrounded by God-loving people whose love for each other stemmed from that love for God. Certain personalities might mix better and certain skills be more praise worthy, but at the end of the day, those things mattered less than the fact that each intern represented someone loved by God and thus worthy of love.
I was spoiled this summer because I felt unconditionally loved. I was spoiled because I got to do work that interested and excited me. I was spoiled because I got to live in the incredibly beautiful mountains with no humidity.
I called this a summer of remembering. Why? Because it was a summer of remembering that my worth is not in what I do, or where I live, or what grades I get. It was a summer of remembering who I am when not stressed, not busy, and not networking. A summer of just being…me. Was it hard sometimes? Oh, you bet. But for all that, it was a summer beyond my expectations.
The thing I want to take away, the thing I need to take away, is that this path wasn’t the most natural, the most prestigious, or even the most sensible. But in the end, it was the most fulfilling. God knew what He was doing even when (especially when) I doubted the most.
(And because I couldn’t find the right place for it in this post, extra grateful shout-out to my awesome fellow legal intern, John, who now knows a lot more about Wisconsin’s Supreme Court, public sector labor law unions, and agency deference than he ever could have wanted, but who always let me interrupt him and patiently listened while I rambled away. Thank you.)
This past week, I heard an interesting talk on 2 Kings 6:8-17. The presentation was on how we handle crisis. However, re-reading the Scripture, another element of the passage stuck out to me. As a quick reminder:
8 Now the king of Aram was at war with Israel. After conferring with his officers, he said, “I will set up my camp in such and such a place.”
9 The man of God sent word to the king of Israel: “Beware of passing that place, because the Arameans are going down there.” 10 So the king of Israel checked on the place indicated by the man of God. Time and again Elisha warned the king, so that he was on his guard in such places.
11 This enraged the king of Aram. He summoned his officers and demanded of them, “Tell me! Which of us is on the side of the king of Israel?”
12 “None of us, my lord the king,” said one of his officers, “but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the very words you speak in your bedroom.”
13 “Go, find out where he is,” the king ordered, “so I can send men and capture him.” The report came back: “He is in Dothan.” 14 Then he senthorses and chariots and a strong force there. They went by night and surrounded the city.
15 When the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked.
16 “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”
17 And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
Super cool passage, right? But here is what I want to know. Did Elisha always see the horses and chariots of fire? Think about how cool, and terrifying, that would be! Definitely something to ask him about in heaven.
I am so grateful for all the friends I have made over the past year. I don’t mean that in a cliche way…I just want to acknowledge tonight how full my life is. God worked things out in ways I never could have imagined. Instead of the “lonely” return home that I expected, I’ve found a lot of meaning and friendship with people my age. It is even better that I get to study the Bible with them each week.
I’m grateful for old friends. Both the ones I’ve reconnected with here “in real life” and those from the Gen J days whose friendships have sustained through many years of being online. I’m grateful that Jordan dropped by this past weekend and that I got to talk with Kris on the phone. They were happy reminders of mutual friends and interests spanning many years.
I’m grateful for how close I am to my family, both in harmony and proximity. I am grateful I have the chance to experience life with my siblings and parents and see my cousins each week. It is so much fun to be part of their daily lives and witness their growth. I didn’t get to do that in TN.
I’m grateful for how full my life is. I have a job I love, a diverse group of friends, and family nearby. This is a good season. I don’t know how long it will last, but I’m grateful for it today and I will be grateful for it tomorrow and I will continue to be the day after tomorrow. It just goes to show that God’s plan is so much greater than I ever know. Whatever I thought the year following graduation would be like, it wasn’t this. Yet this is wonderful, beyond what I could imagine.
Tonight, I thank God for where I am at and the people He has put in my life.
Proverbs 16:9 says, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.”
I read this verse during my devotion this morning and the words have been at the back of my mind all day. First, I think this would be a great graduation verse, way better than Jeremiah 29:11.
Second, though, I have been thinking about how hard it is to acknowledge that in the end, God determines the steps I take. I don’t mean in the big things. It is comforting to look back on my big life decisions and see how God was at work. What is hard to hand over is the little things.
Today was a big day for me. I was hosting an open house event for my office and I really wanted it to go well. With this verse in mind, I told myself it was okay to relax. Whether I succeeded or not, God was in control. Almost, I allowed this realization to calm me.
However, there was another voice that refused to calm down. Handing everything over to God was too much like giving up. I told myself I needed a stronger internal locus of control, not something to pass decisions off on. I needed the extra stress, I reasoned, to keep me sharp. I want to be stronger, grittier. Which wasn’t necessary bad.
The problem is when I begin to draw a false line between ‘handing my stress over to God’ and ‘being responsible.’ They naturally flow together. Letting go does not mean behaving irresponsibly. If anything, it reminds me where my priorities should be. I just wish it didn’t feel like such a hard balance to learn sometimes!