“God Loves You Too Much to Leave You Where You Are…” : A Letter to My Freshman Self // Sarah

“Girlfriend, God loves you too much to leave you where you are. If you surrender to Him, you’ll see grace in His character and in His care for you, and because of that, you’ll see more of who He is and who you are in the process.”

That’s just a little snippet of what I would love to go back and tell my freshman year of college self. Little Sarah and I would have a lovely chat, let me tell ya… ((cookies would for SURE be present for this chat too, no doubt)).

To give some background, I really began to walk with Jesus during my freshman year, meaning I actually started to read and study scripture like forreal. I poured out my very lonely heart to Him quite frequently. Because of that, His presence became real, He drew near to me and I tasted and saw how good the Lord was in the first year of my college career. The gospel came alive to me for the first time after years of just walking through the motions. Through each semester thereafter, I anticipated (and sometimes cringed) knowing God was going to continue to stretch me, prune me and teach me in each stage even more so than the last.

Coming into college, I had a vision of what my life would look like over the course of my four years at VCU. I was under the impression that I would find my best Christian, college girlfriends within the first week of class, have the best time of my life, get married right after graduation and have a family who is the perfect little picture of “Christian success.” It seemed as though following Jesus was some time of cake walk, read the Bible semiregularly, do the right things and obey Him and life will be good. Safe, semi-comfortable, steady and sure.

Haaaaaaaa….. Reality check nah, nope, nada.

Life looks completely different than I ever anticipated and that, I have learned, is g o o d thing and I praise God for it. Why is that, you may ask? As I have reflected in these summer months “post-college”, I have seen a themeGod loves me too much to leave me where I am in my sin, in my circumstances, in my selfdependency, and in my brokenness to not intervene. That means, He shakes things up, He convicts me, He allows my heart to be confused, to break, and to search for Him. Through each year, He draws me to Himself, showing me more of my lack and more of His goodness. He meets me here in my brokenness. And it’s in this place I have also learned how wicked and deceitful my heart is, even on its best day. I have learned that what I have planned pales in comparison to God’s ways and God’s will. I have learned that safe, semi-comfortable, steady and sure is not where I would want to be on my own, because only in Him am I safe, in Him can I be sure and only He is steady.

I am not the only one who He loves too much to leave to their own devices and comfort. He has been loving people “too much” since the beginning of time. Let me explain…I have been studying straight through the Old Testament in the last few months. I am currently makin’ my way through Numbers. ((I can hear you cringe lots of words and lists but so much goodness and God’s grace)). To give a highlight recap for where we are stepping into:

Genesis= God calls a people group (Israel) to be His holy people, via the lineage of Abraham and his descendants. He calls them to go from their home (their comfort) and their land (their safety) and follow wherever God was to lead them. They struggle and wrestle yet God kept His covenant to be faithful to them.

Genesis 12:1-2 “Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.”

Exodus= God continues to leads His holy people, this time out from under the rule of Pharaoh and they begin their wandering excursion around the dessert for quite a bit of time. During this time, they start to regret following Moses and trusting God through the uncertainty and through their discomfort. The struggle continues as they get hangry and cranky, and yet again God remains faithful.

Exodus 29:45 “I will dwell among the people of Israel and will be their God.  And they shall know that I am the Lord their God, who brought them out of the land of Egypt that I might dwell among them. I am the Lord their God.”

Leviticus= God gives His people the law for sacrifice and holy conduct. He gives very specific law, not ‘cause He just likes a good barbeque sacrifice, but because a holy and perfect God longs to meet with sinners in the Holiest of Holies. God draws them near. He desires to meet with them. The Lord wants to dwell among them.

Leviticus 22:31-33 “So you shall keep my commandments and do them: I am the Lord. And you shall not profane my holy name, that I may be sanctified among the people of Israel. I am the Lord who sanctifies you, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God: I am the Lord.”

Numbers= God has promised His people a land called The Promised Land, sometimes referred to as Canaan. Because of their wandering and idolatry of self and pagan gods, Israel continues to doubt God’s goodness and leading. They complained, rebelled and rejected God’s guidance. They forgot again how the Lord had delivered them, provided for them and lead them into a place where they didn’t anticipate. The Israelites started to wish to be in captivity again, in their safe and enslaved homes. Because of that, God withholds a good thing He promised and graciously disciplines His people.

Numbers 14:18 “The Lord is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgressions…”

And that’s where I found myself this morning…

I saw myself in the shoes (or sandals?) of the Israelites. As I continued reading, I started making the connection to my heart and their hearts, their situations and mine. In the last four years, I have seen God lead me into circumstances and situations that didn’t always feel great, often times through tears and confusion. And like the Israelites, I have asked God questions and doubted His goodness. My comfort and certainty has been stripped away over and over as I have followed Jesus. And guess what….God has met me there, time and time again. For that I am so stinkin’ thankful.

So to conclude my talk with little freshmen Sarah and to other sisters in Christ, I would share this…

“I am thankful that God loves us too much to let us stay where were are, comfortable and complacent, Queens of our own Castle of Self. Instead, He leads us into season after season of walking by faith, in a total lack of control but gentle surrender to His leading. God’s word and His law have been a place of refuge in each of these seasons, reminding us of Who He is, who I am and to Whom I belong to now because of Christ.”

Praise God that He loves us too much!

Hi there! I am Sarah &  I am on staff as an intern with Cru in RVA! I am fresh-off-the-stage VCU alumni and now I get serve on my fav campus, along with J. Sarge! God has me in a place I never thought I’d be in but am SO grateful to be. Cookie dough is my ultimate weakness, running is my therapy and Jesus is continuing to teach me that He is always better. Thanks for reading!

Sing & Seek//Nita

Happy Summer everyone!  I hope you are having great times with the Lord, with family and with friends.  Perhaps you are like me and began the New Year determined to read through the whole Bible!  It is a good thing to pursue.  However if you are like me, there are places in the Old Testament where I just get bogged down in genealogies, blue print details for huge boats, the Tabernacle mega tent, and the Temple in Jerusalem.  Never mind, all those details and names of people represent real men and women who followed hard after God generation after generation and because they did, you and I get to know Him too.

This year I took a break just after finishing 2 Kings.  I went to the New Testament letters of Paul.  I had a grand time reading and studying Ephesians and9562cc1e1d8fc14bb4f4e93814a7d1f9 Galatians.  I needed that t
ime in the New Testament.  Last week I decided to go back and work on another section of the Old Testament.

Oh no, 1 Chronicles begins with more genealogies! Actually the first 8 chapters are lists of names!  But I determined to carry on reading – there are interesting passages about King Saul and King David and then more lists of names – like David’s mighty men of Valor!  As I prayed and continued reading the Lord caused me to “see” phrases that touch my heart still; “helped David with an undivided heart”  “perfect heart”  “of one mind” “joy indeed in Israel”

As I continued to read and pray I came to chapter 16.  Stop for a moment and read this amazing chapter.  King David knew how to worship God.  He appointed singers, writers, musicians to help the people worship.  He led his people in worship!  As you read 1 Chronicles 16 you will feel like you are reading the Psalms – and you are!  The writers of the worship in chapter 16 are some of the same who wrote many of the Psalms.  I would love to have been there, wouldn’t you?

Oh give thanks to the Lord, call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples,

Sing to Him, sing praises to him; Speak of all His wonders.

Glory in His holy name; Let the heart of those who seek the Lord be glad.

Seek the Lord and His strength; Seek His face continually.  (8-11)

Well, more chapters of details and names follow this wonderful worship chapter, but don’t give up.  This book ends with a prayer that will change your life – worth praying again and again.  Check it out!  And keep reading God’s Word this summer!

Look Up and Be Free//Steph

Today we’re diving into Genesis 21 where we see Abraham and Sarah have had baby Isaac, the promised child they waited so long for.

“Now the Lord was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did for Sarah what he had promised. Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him. Abraham gave the name Isaac to the son Sarah bore him…Sarah said, “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.” And she added, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.” The child grew and was weaned, and on the day Isaac was weaned Abraham held a great feast. But Sarah saw that the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham was mocking, and she said to Abraham, “Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac.” Gen 21:1-3, 6-10

Sarah waited until she was 90 for a child! You would think after that long she would be so delighted to be a mom that nothing could steal her joy. But here she is in Gen 21 having a party because Isaac has been weaned. Side note: How fun that they had a party when she no longer needed to breastfeed! When did that tradition stop? Anyways they’re all feasting at Isaac’s party and doing the Cha Cha Slide when Sarah sees him – Abraham’s son Ishmael who he had with her servant Hagar. Now before you think Abraham is a sleazeball let’s remember it was Sarah’s idea for him to make a baby with Hagar (Gen. 16). But Instead of standing firm on God’s plan he gave in to his wife’s plan.

So Sarah sees this boy Ishmael who is probably a teenager at this time “mocking” Isaac and she is not happy. She stops being thankful and rejoicing over what the Lord has done. Instead she looks around at what else is going on. Then she looks to the future worrying about Isaac’s inheritance. It’s not enough that she has a husband who loves her and a child she longed for for so long (proof of God’s love and provision). Her worry causes her to want to be in control and she goes straight to Abraham to tell her the latest plan she has come up with; get rid of Hagar and Ishmael.

Let’s pause here because don’t we do the same thing? We look around instead of looking up to the One who has blessed us so much already. We look at what we don’t have yet, what others have now, what might happen someday, and the list goes on. Some of us even come up with our own plans to get what we want and keep what we have, instead of simply trusting the One who loves us. We call this manipulation and I am guilty of it.

Let’s be women who look up. Women who are grateful and are free to be happy for others even if they have something we want. There will always be people who have less than we do and we will always have something to be grateful for. Sarah let someone else steal her joy for that moment and she never got that time back. She missed part of the joy of being present during her son’s party and she didn’t get to go back in time and re-do that day.

I need to be reminded of this truth myself. I have had a few seasons of waiting and waiting until God blesses me even though I don’t deserve it. When I finally have what I wanted I start thinking how it could be better or bigger or nicer. Or I worry that He will take away what I wanted. God wants more for us though. He wants us to enjoy the peace of a content heart and to be free from worry. Let’s look up to Him instead of looking around at what others have or what might happen. Spend a few minutes contemplating these three questions.

What prayers has God answered that I haven’t stopped to thank Him for?

What is it that steals my joy and distracts me from having a thankful heart?

How can I move forward from here and be intentional to “look up”?