Saturday, March 22, 2008

planning my life

Last night, when I was trying to go to bed, a verse popped into my mind. "All a man's ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the LORD. " (Pr 16:2) On Thursday, I had shared from Pr 16:3, so I thought I probably knew everything important from this chapter already. Not quite correct. All this week I have been thinking about the future. Most of the time debate related, sometimes not. I have been desiring to get the first seed in the prelims, to maintain our DUO standing, to blog, to be in heaven, to be thinner, to eat... but most of all to go to Nationals! Everyone of these things seemed innocent in themselves. However, once I remembered Pr 16:2, I realized how little control I have over these things. The verse says that my motives are weighed by the LORD!!! In other words, I might think it's fine to desire all these things, but God know why I want them. So I starting thinking about things I wanted and why I wanted them:
  • First seed in prelims: make me look good, show I'm a good debater
  • Maintain our DUO standing: don't want to get worse, "need" points for nationals
  • Blog: to connect with God
  • Be in heaven: i was sick of the world; i wanted to get away from my problems, not solve them
  • Be thinner: make me look better in the mirror
  • Eat: be happy and yummy
  • Nationals: i couldn't figure this one out!!! I knew I wanted to do our duo there (to what end?) I knew if we made it in debate too, so my parents would have a great likelihood of actually letting us go to Nationals at all.
Okay, I count 7 things I wanted. One of those things I wanted in order to please God. (not saying of course these are the only things i wanted this week!) So, I knew I wanted to do a bunch of things, but God knows why I want to do them and he is the one in charge of how many of them happen. Just know I went back to Pr 16 to see what else it had to say. Here are all the verses I found that related to plans and planning:

Proverbs 16
1 To man belong the plans of the heart,
but from the LORD comes the reply of the tongue.
2 All a man's ways seem innocent to him,
but motives are weighed by the LORD.
3 Commit to the LORD whatever you do,
and your plans will succeed.
4 The LORD works out everything for his own ends—
even the wicked for a day of disaster.
9 In his heart a man plans his course,
but the LORD determines his steps.
20 Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers,
and blessed is he who trusts in the LORD.
25 There is a way that seems right to a man,
but in the end it leads to death.
33 The lot is cast into the lap,
but its every decision is from the LORD.

Eight verses in one chapter! Yeah, I can say whatever I want to do, but God is the one who makes anything happen. God isn't going to let me get these things if they aren't pleasing to him. So, I need to make my plans please him. I need to give my own desires over to God and let him have them all.

Let's impact this a bit. How do my desires fit in with all this? (actually my desires have kinda wilted now) Last night, I felt God telling me that the only way I'm going to nationals is if I going to please him only! I 'm not going there on my merit, or to have fun. My plans need to please him. My goals no longer have to do with how well I do, but with my ability to be a Godly witness and example. Last year I wanted to go to a debate conference to see my friends. That was such a hollow goal. I realized that I could not go to that conference with that goal. God changed my goals and I went to learn and to encourage others. It's like that for Nationals. I now know if my goals are self-aggrandizing, I will not go to Nationals.

But what if all my goals in life are turned to God and I still don't get what I wanted originally? Two responses 1. I don't need to. If I've given God my goals, I don't need to care whether I get what I wanted originally or not. 2. Who cares? All things in life that I may have wanted before are pointless in the long run. Everything passes away.

I mean, its going to hurt if pleasing God is my goal, but we still don't go to Nationals. Yes, it's going to hurt alot. But really... God can use me in many ways without going to Nationals. I can still do his will even if it isn't my will. As I submit my will to God, I learn to love what he has planned for me. I know from experience that his plans always work and mine usually don't. =D Besides all that, what could Nationals have benefited me if it wasn't will?

All in all, maybe this blog post hasn't changed what I desire or what I do, but at very least I cannot help looking at things in a different light. God's light, I hope. Maybe this has no impact on you, readers. It should though. If you give your plans over to God, He will work everything to benefit you. On your account, though, do what pleases God. Leave planning your life to Him.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

A tale of a pencil sharpener

This afternoon, while sharpening 72 pencils for our tourney with our electric pencil sharpener, I started running through my Topical Memory System bible verses in my head. I had got through the first 12 verses when the pencil sharpener stopped working. I fiddled around for a few minutes until I realized that the sharpener had gotten overheated.

"Sigh", thought I, pulling out my small pencil sharpener that wasn't run by electricity. "I'll have a dozen blisters before I finish this job." After sharpening 5 pencils by hand, I returned to the electric sharpener. Thankfully, it had cooled down sufficiently to let me use it. My outlook on life became cheerier, and I started my work (and my bible memory) again.

Despite having to revert to hand-sharpening a couple of times, I had sharpened all but 10 pencils when I finally finished with my 60 bible verses. "This is going so well!" I thought. "I'm so glad I can be a blessing to my family in this way and practice memorizing bible verses! Hmmm... let's see, I need some more verses to review." So Genesis 1:1, John 3:16, and other verses that weren't in the topical memory system started playing on the screen of my mind.

By the time I thought of "trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths," I had only 4 pencils left.

I pondered the significance of the verse. "What a nice verse. It's so useful to remember! Today is a wonderful day! And the sharpener hasn't jammed for 6 pencils! And I only have 4 pencils left! I'm sure I'll be able to finish before sharpening them before it jams again. Splendid, splendid."

With this state of mind, I stuck the fourth-to-last pencil into the electric sharpener. And... you guessed it!- the sharpener didn't start. I shook my head in chagrin, amazed at the irony of my situation. I had leaned on my own understanding while pondering a verse that told me to trust in the Lord!

You could call it coincidence, but it seems to me to be Providence. Now the concept of trusting God in everything and leaning not on my own understanding has taken on a special meaning.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

sweet sixteen

well, it's been one sweet year. now it's all bittersweet. i was going to write a nice little poem about my year, but i didn't. so, now i'm going to list some of favorites from age 16:
  • Speech and debate... i love my partner! <3
  • Becoming stage manager at drama class
  • Making NCFCA friends...not just a few, but alot!
  • Practicing my DUO in the ladies bathroom at the church
  • Going to CFC camp, tour conference and MASTERS (and meeting very awesome people there!)
  • being a tournament orphan with some of my best friends
  • correcting latin hw with my friends and bemoaning the poor "line-skippers"
This has just been a fantastic year for friends and for my spiritual life. I have so many friends for which i'm thankful. God is also teaching me so much. I love the lessons he's teaching me, even tho they are difficult sometime. It's like i live such a vibrant life, because He makes it whole, new and exciting all the time.

This is a really cool song that I heard on the radio. It's called "Brave." I love the part about the status quo.

The gate is wide
The road is paved in moderation
The crowd is kind and quick to pull you in
Welcome to the middle ground
You’re safe and sound and
Until now it’s where I’ve been

‘Cause it’s been fear that ties me down to everything
But it’s been love, Your love, that cuts the strings

So long status quo
I think I just let go
You make me want to be brave
The way it always was
Is no longer good enough
You make me want to be brave
Brave, brave

I am small
And I speak when I’m spoken to
But I am willing to risk it all
I say Your name
Just Your name and I’m ready to jump
Even ready to fall

Why did I take this vow of compromise?
Why did I try to keep it all inside?

So long status quo
I think I just let go
You make me want to be brave
The way it always was
Is no longer good enough
You make me want to be brave
Brave, brave

I’ve never known a fire that didn’t begin with a flame
Every storm will start with just a drop of rain
But if you believe in me
That changes everything
So long, I’m gone

So long status quo
I think I just let go
You make me want to be brave
I wanna be brave
The way it always was
Is no longer good enough
You make me want to be brave
Brave, brave

for the longest time i was just happy to let my life be. it was good but not challenging. i didn't get to see much of God at work. one example i'm thinking of is the time i went to CFC camp. i had alot of fun and i made alot of friends, but i'm not sure how much of the Lord's work i did there. i called that a wasted opportunity. i hate it. i want to dedicate my life to God and do away with my sinful self. i'm realizing the more i focus of God the better life is. alot of times i'm pretty "happy go lucky" and immature. so, i'm making 17 official year to grow up. i'm not sure if this is going to work.

Rom 12:1 - 2
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

sixteen is over. seventeen is now. it's so hard to tell what constitutes having fun and what is childlikeness. i want to grow in wisdom, but i still want to be me. first of all i know i need to be more ladylike.

1 Peter 3:3,4
Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight.

often i'm not quiet and gentle. i'm usually talkative and silly. this isn't what God is looking for. when people look at me, i don't want them to see an immature girl, but a woman growing in Christlikeness. i was thinking recently about getting married. i'm realizing that i'm very unprepared for that. i'm praying for an amazing guy, but i also know i need to be ready. i can see alot of ways in which i'm lacking and i know i need to work more on doing God's will, not my own. so what i want to begin working on this year is preparing myself for my future. not that i intend to get married any time soon, it's just that i want God's best for me. i'm trusting God to bring the man, but i myself want to be worthy of him. really, tho, i don't think about marriage this much. however, i am making it my goal to become a Godly and gentle young lady.

So this post has encompassed many scattered ideas. I will leave you saying that
1. I thank God for the good work begun in me
2. I'm also thankful I've finally been woken up spiritually
3. Sixteen was a great learning year
4. Seventeen is an uncharted course. I don't know what's ahead, but i intend to trust God all the way and grow in him.
5. I wonder how many of my aspirations will actually last and how much of this is noise. Time will tell, i suppose. I know I'd like to really grow this year and impact others. The rest is up to God. He'll decide what happens.

Matt 5:16
In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
{and hope does not put us to shame}