If God is for us

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I have a map on the wall in my room. A map of the world. A map that I pray over. A map of all the places that I wish to go to one day. The different colored pins represent places that I’ve already visited.

Belgium is a beautiful country. It has a lot of culture, and has some of the best food.

When the Paris attacks happened, I was devastated. I’ve walked the streets of Paris and I’ve experienced the remarkable beauty of the French city.

When the Belgium attacks happened this morning, my heart was broken. I was in that same airport last summer waiting for my ride, sitting on the floor next to the wall, charging my phone, in that airport that was bombed. Words cannot express the heartache that I am feeling today. Innocent people, innocent travelers, hurt and some killed by the explosions of bombs that contained gas, nails, and pieces of glass.

A wonderful poet, Warsan Shire, wrote a poem in 2014, but I think it fits.

“Later that night, I held an atlas in my lap, ran my fingers across the whole world and whispered, where does it hurt? it answered everywhere, everywhere, everywhere.” 

The world is hurting.

Social media seems to have turned everyone in the world, a Christian. With #prayforbelgium circulating, why is it that only in times of trouble and heartache, do we search for God? On the other hand, why do we think that God is not already there in hard times?

As a Jesus follower, I think it is my duty to not only hashtag the phrase, but also do it. Pray. And not only for the victims and their families, but for the terrorists as well.I honestly didn’t know what to pray for. What do you pray for in a tragic time such as this? So I stood in silence. Listening for God.

It is so difficult to pray for a group of people like ISIS, who have taken responsibility for the attacks, but Jesus teaches us to “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). They are humans too. They are people that need Jesus just as much as I do.Just as much as you do. And if we continue to have them torment our minds with hate and sorrow, we are just doing ourselves a disfavor. God is love. He teaches us to forgive. Through all of this, however, God is showing us that the times are soon ending. That Jesus will soon come.

So as I listened, and read my bible, God opened up to me in this passage.

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience… If God is for us, who can be against us?… Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?…No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8: 18-25, 31, 35-39)

If God is for us, who can be against us?

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Forget the Mundane

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Mundane: lacking interest or excitement; dull. A word that I do not want to use when describing my life.

I decided to write this post after long prayers and conversations with God about my life. The past two years God has used every single opportunity to teach me something. If I could write a book about it, I would, but I’ll stick with blogging for now.

Since I was about 13 years old I wished to fly away somewhere. The thought of experiencing a different culture was my dream. When I was 16 years old, I left the country (other than Canada) for the first time since I came to the United States. It was my trip to Russia as many of you have probably read about. That was my first super long flight across the country and the ocean and let me tell you, I had a blast. Although I didn’t like heights back then and I hate small spaces, flying made me feel infinite. How blessed are we to live in a time when we can just say “I wanna go here” and just go. God changed me during that trip and is still constantly chiseling away at my imperfections and making me look more like Jesus.

I came back from Russia just in time for my baptism. I was literally on cloud nine. Everything in my life seemed to be perfect and I loved living and serving my church here. But the memories of what I saw and did in Russia always kept replaying in my mind.

Travel was where my heart was back then.

In the next year I got a job as a gymnastics coach and met a lot of wonderful friends who will forever be in my heart. One of those girls was a sweet american girl named Raina who was 2 years older than me. Her sister worked with me and she often came to substitute or just help out when she could. Her contagious laugh and positive attitude intrigued me from the day I met her. We became friends after I saw her Russian tattoo on her arm and she made me translate it to see if I was actually Russian (do I not look like it? haha). Her tattoo said (in Russian), “today’s dreams will be tomorrow’s reality“. How beautiful is that?

Raina was crazy. She did things very spontaneously but always reminded me to live my life to the fullest. One summer, she left to Lake Chelan and slept in her car for 2 weeks because she wanted to earn some extra money serving at a golf course. Crazy. Constantly, she shocked me with her decisions but she seemed to always be happy with them.

So we (my dad, brother, and I), booked a flight to Europe that winter. I’ve always wanted to go there because I mean, who wouldn’t want to got there? Plus, Raina kept reminding me to live my life out to it’s full potential.

The day before we were leaving, I went to work and other than my boss, I was the only coach there. This is not a good thing when you have 8 kids to coach plus the kids of the coaches that are gone. My boss waited to tell me why the two sisters were not at work until after I had finished all my classes.

Raina died.

At this point, it’s not really important to explain how she passed away.

At that moment I thought that the world had stopped. There’s really no way to write in words about how I felt at that moment. For any of you that had lost anyone, it’s a devastating feeling. You start wondering if there was anything you could have done and why this happened. But most of all, I started questioning God. Why now and why her?

I want Raina’s legacy to live on. I will never forget the things she taught me and I only pray that my life was a reflection of Jesus, so that I can meet her in heaven soon.

I left on my trip to Europe with only thoughts of Raina. She inspired me to travel and I always have to remind myself that life is too short to do just one thing and the world is too big to just stay in one place. 

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God knew what I wanted. In Psalm 37:4 it says, “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart”. My desires are to travel. To meet new people. To experience new cultures. To see Jesus in places and situations that I never even imagined.

Four months later, my grandma died.

After that, I booked another trip to Europe, this time by myself.

I experienced so many new things.

I went paragliding.

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I fed monkeys.

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I went on a motorcycle for the first time in my life (on a no speed limit highway).

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I rode a horse for the first time.

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And I experienced many other things that I would never had been able to do if I didn’t let go of my fears and let God take control.

When you travel, especially without family, you learn a lot of things about yourself. It’s very paradoxical actually.You learn how smart you are, and also how much more you need to learn. You learn how strong you are but how much you need someone to lean on sometimes. You learn how to be independent but how often and how much you need God.

Now if that wasn’t a year of trials, I don’t know what is. God taught me so much about numbering my days. About living my life for him. To always choose love. To ALWAYS keep seeking Him where I doubt He is. He taught me that the best things in life are really not things. They’re people. They’re experiences. They’re the grace of God in flesh and in everyday things.

So forget the mundane. We were not created to go to school or work, sings some songs on Sunday, and sleep. We were created for far better things. If you just forget your fears, the life that God created for you is just around the corner. Trust is the key. So dream, believe, trust, and know that if you are not obsessed with the beautiful life that God has given you, change it.

You can’t do anything about the length of your life, but you can do something about its width and depth“. -Evan Esar