It takes time for a seed to grow.
It takes time for a cake to bake.
It takes time to save up for a house.
And, just like anything in life, growing spiritually in relationship with the Lord takes time, too. It is a journey that, while it can seem long and painful at times, is really such a rewarding and fruitful one. In fact, it is the most beneficial, worthwhile and fulfilling pilgrimage of your life. (That is, if you let it be.)
It is an adventure that will awaken our senses, our minds, our hearts, our bodies, and our souls.
And, because we live in a fallen world, it is also an odyssey that is full of twists and turns, hills and valleys. Dangers are lurking everywhere—because the devil is out there—seeking whom he may devour.
But, praise the Lord, God is out there, too. And, not only is God out there, if we ask Him into our hearts, He is inside of us as well. He is with us and for us. The victory is His—He has already won the war for us on the cross at Calvary. Therefore, likewise, the victory is ours!
This sojourn that we take as Christians offers us a wealth of opportunities to grow and mature in Christ. It allows us to become more and more like Him every day. As Paul reminds us, we go from glory to glory.
It is an expedition that has its fair share of snares and thorns, but I am learning to embrace each of them. The wisdom and peace that comes with walking with God allows us to see every situation, most especially the bad ones, as opportunities to grow in grace and mercy and understanding. They are circumstances in which we can reach out to God and He will hold us tightly in His arms, being our comforter, our strength, our shelter, our foundation, and our fortress. He happily does all these things for us because He is our Father and our Creator, and He loves us.
I cry at this thought. At God’s mercy and grace and forgiveness; at His love for us.
I cry because, as a human, I can sometimes feel so very far away from Him.
I cry because I feel like I am failing miserably at sharing His love and light to all those around me.
I am also happy because I have found God.
I am happy because I have an amazing example to follow in Jesus. And, I am working towards the goal of being more like Him.
I am happy because I know I have a home for eternity in heaven with Him.
I am happy because, no matter what I do or don't do, no matter how many times I mess up, God loves me. He loves me unconditionally.
Sadness and happiness abound, sometimes even in equal measure.
Such is the nature of being a human, I guess.
But, my point is this: the journey to Christ, in our relationship with Him, is worth it. It is worth the trouble. It is worth the effort. It is worth our blood, sweat, and tears. It is worth fighting for, for ourselves and others.
Because at the end of our journey we get to live with Christ forever in the new heavens and the new earth. That in and of itself should be enough. That should be all we need to know in order to strive for a healthy relationship with the Lord.
However, the Bible tells us that our new home in eternity will be so much more than just being with God. (Again, I can't stress this enough, just being with God should be all we need.) Revelation tells us that God will wipe away every tear from our eyes. Death shall be no more. There shall be no more mourning, crying, or pain.
And, to me, the added bonus is that all believers will be together. This means everyone I love here on earth, who is a believer, will be in heaven with me.
I mean, can it get any better than that?!?!
Yes, yes it can.
How? I genuinely have no idea. But, I do know that the new heavens and the new earth will be more amazing and stunning than anything we could ever imagine with our tiny human brains. I believe it will be full of incredible surprises.
But, the most crucial aspect is this: we are talking about eternity here. Time without end. This will be forever. This is why our relationship journey with Christ is vital. For without this journey and without Him, we will be lost. We will be cast in the lake of fire permanently.
And, I don't know about you, but to me, the choice between these two options is clear. I hope it is to you too.
When you were a kid and had trouble sleeping, did your parents ever tell you to count sheep to help you fall asleep? I don’t actually remember my parents telling me that per say, but I have heard of that saying since I was a little kid. And, I recollect trying to count sheep to fall asleep.
Fast forward to being an adult. Well, first, allow me to take a minor side-step. I LOVE old movies. I can sit and watch TCM for days on end. The movies from the 1940’s and 50’s are my favorite. There is just something about old movies that speak to me in a way that current ones don’t. Anyway, one of my all-time favorite Christmas movies is White Christmas. In it, Rosemary Clooney sings this beautiful song called “Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep.” Now, maybe you can see where I am going with this.
As we enter into the month of November, the month in which we set aside one day as nation to give thanks, I think it is the perfect time to remind each of us that we should be thankful to God and counting our blessings each and every day. (And, I mean each and every day of every year—not just on Thanksgiving Day or for the month of November!)
God gives us so many amazing and wonderful gifts each and every day. Many of these gifts are simple things that we take for granted and often forget about. The gift of life, the gift of being able to get out of bed, the gift of having a bed, the gift of a gorgeous sunrise and/or sunset, I could go on and on.
In your Christian life, have you ever heard, “Seek the Giver, not the gift?” That is to say, we should be seeking God, not what God gives us. I certainly agree with this sentiment. We should be seeking God. We should be seeking God as much and as often as we possibly can. However, I learned a new saying just yesterday that I think we should all take to heart, that is a step above this statement. This new maxim I came across is, “Seek the Giver through the gift.” (I must give a shout out to Randy Alcorn and his Bible study “Happiness” for this little gem.)
Isn’t this just an extraordinary way of both seeking the Giver and of being thankful for the gift? I think it is! The example that Randy gives is that of a delicious meal. As we enjoy the meal, we can be thanking God for the ingredients, the hands that prepared it, and our taste buds for being able to taste it. These are all gifts from God! And, these are all things we should be thankful for!
In Psalm 50:23, Jesus tells us, “Giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors Me.” However, I don’t think that giving thanks is a sacrifice. On the contrary, I see this as an easy way to honor God. Especially when you compare it to what Jesus did for us by dying on the cross for our sins. Giving Him thanks for His gifts is the least we can do.
I am so glad you are here! I am Erica Strickland, a girl who loves God. My goal here is to simply share His love and light.