“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!
@babyhouch

Hosea: relentless pursuit//Sarah//VCU

Over the last couple months I have realized something about my heart, well a few things actually, but the first allows the others to follow after. I believe lies about who God is…I believe things about His character and about how He works. In reality they are the polar opposite of truth. They aren’t statements I say aloud, consciously think of or dwell on but they are often reflected in my attitude, thoughts and behavior.

I think He’s not going to fully satisfy my heart.

I think He’s angry with me and He’s going to treat me with a spiteful attitude.

I think He’s going to give up and turn His back on me.

Ouch. To admit these make me cringe. To read them makes me tense up. To confess this way of thinking to the Lord Himself makes me want to run and hide. I hate that I believe these things. I hate that these lies have clouded my thinking. The Spirit of God inside me rises up and reminds my heart that these things are just that, lies. And I don’t think I am alone in believing them.

A few weeks ago I started studying the book of Hosea (**insert praise hands here**). It quickly showed me a mirror into my own life. (I am not sure if you are familiar with it but I highly recommend it, but forewarning: the book will change your life if you let it.) To give a bit of background, Hosea is one of the minor prophets of scripture–which is a fancy way of saying he was a man who spoke the truth about who God is and pointed people back to obedience to Him. The book starts off with God telling Hosea to take a wife of whoredom (a woman of promiscuity and waywardness) and have children with her. Sounds romantic, right? If you continue to read on, you may be able to see the parallel between Hosea and God and Gomer and the Israelites/you/myself. In Hosea 2, God makes this vow-like covenant to the Israelites.376a9a992b18d17353972e4fcf4261e3

“I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the Lord.”

{Hosea 2:19-20}

From chapter 3 until the end of the book, we read the story of Israel’s rebellion and idolatry and God’s response of wrath and love for them. It’s a dramatic cycle of sin, judgment and restoration, over and over and over. By chapter 6, I’m ready to yell–How dare they turn their back on God? Hellooooo?? Do they not see how much He loves them and cares for them? Why would they make idols of silver and gold when they could have a real relationship with their Maker? Why would they look anywhere else but to Him? And why doesn’t God throw up His hands and walk away?

The Israelites were God’s chosen people. He pursues them so clearly throughout the whole Old Testament. “For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” {Hosea 6:6}  God wanted their hearts, all their hearts, not their sacrifices. Sin takes over the Israelites and they begin to be apathetic towards Him. My heart aches when I read, “For Israel has forgotten his Maker and built palaces.”  {Hosea 8:14} It aches because I see myself in their idolatry, their selfishness, their apathy, their immorality. How often do we forget our Maker?

Like the Israelites, I so often believe that God alone isn’t enough, without even realizing it. I dwell on the approval of others, affirmation from my new relationship, the feeling of accomplishment when I run enough miles or speak eloquently to my small group girls. Not that those things are bad, but when they become the source of my worth and validation, I rip Jesus off His throne and start making idols made of modern day silver and gold. When we put something above the Lord, our worship goes to something of lesser value. It leads us to sacrificing burnt offerings, such as daily Bible reading just to check it off or attending Cru so you’re not badgered by friends. We offer our works to God instead of our worship. As a result, when I recognize my sin, I fear His wrath. I fear that He will finally get tired of redeeming me. I am scared He won’t be willing to buy me back again and again. I wonder if and when He will finally give up and walk away. This adulterous heart of mine doesn’t deserve such a faithful God.

And yet,

that is not who He is. Even though I don’t deserve Him, He is still faithful. He remains good even when we aren’t. Look back at Hosea 2:19-20 with me. He betroths us in righteousness and justice,
steadfast love and mercy. He betroths us in His faithfulness, then we shall know the Lord. Because of His faithfulness and His righteousness, not my own, He is eager to take us back, despite our idol making and wayward hearts. When I grow in my knowledge of His true character, I see how false my beliefs are about Him. He is ‘merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love’. He ‘satisfies the desires of every living thing’ {Psalm 145}.  ‘His going out is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.’ {Hosea 6:3}.

Through the pages of Hosea I see my story, our story sister, of sin, judgement and restoration. As I read, I recognized their deep need for Jesus, and quickly
my deep need for Jesus. He lived the righteous and idol-less life that you and I can’t. He took the Father’s wrath so that we don’t have to. The sacrifice of His life was sufficient in that when God looks at us, He doesn’t respond in anger or hostility but abounds in love and mercy. Jesus’s death and resurrection makes God’s purchase of us final and complete. Jesus made the restoration and reconciliation fully possible. The only thing that changes is who sits on the throne of our hearts. Our hearts pursue idols of silver and gold, while our Maker pursues the devotion of our hearts. I’ve seen in my own life that it’s exhausting to be tossed to and fro and it’s disappointing to look other places other than Him.

This book has wrecked my heart, in the best way possible, and torn down the lies that I have subconsciously believed and idols I so often build. Jesus is so needed and so sufficient, my friend. He extends us grace when we run away and allow our hearts wander. He is the Ultimate Lover of our hearts and shows us He is because He has paid a high price for them.  In the words of Hosea, “So you, by the help of your God, return, hold fast to love and justice, and wait continually for your God.” {Hosea 12:6} Let us fix our eyes and hearts on Him. Let us tear down the idols that we build. Let us allow scripture to dissolve the lies we believe. Praise God for His relentless pursuit.

 

img_8350Hello sweet friends! I am one of the many Sarahs of this world. Next May I will graduate from VCU with my degree in psychology and minor in religious studies. I am thankful for Cru, running, Jesus, cookie dough and YOU! Thanks for letting me share a little bit of my heart with you and how I have learned that Jesus is always better.

What Are We Doing?//Kathleen

As the new intern on the TRVA[tidewater + richmond] Cru team, I’ve come to meet many new people, discover fun things about Richmond, and learn all the lingo that I was not previously privy to. I faced numerous challenges getting to Richmond such as finding housing after my plans fell through, raising all my support, and maintaining my sanity while living at home. I thought once I finally moved, I would be in the clear, but God had some more challenges in store such as: a break-up, buying a new mattress by myself, making new friends, and a handful of other things.

No no, this isn’t a pity party. This is me gathering my thoughts and catching you up to speed. It’s so easy to get caught up in life’s messes, in the exciting things, and even in the trivial day-to-day things (aka grocery shopping always). However, I’ve been faced with a question time and time again upon arriving to Richmond:

–WHAT ARE WE DOING?–

This question comes from a new f397ea274a5a85328f0d85739cfe91371riend who is a fellow staff member. He constantly challenges us as a staff team when we are planning events, when we have conversations, even when we’re not talking at all. He has a great grasp on the eternal- the everlasting results of our work and of God’s ultimate plan.

The apostle Paul writes to us saying, “Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10). Paul is challenging us to truly seek from where we receive our approval. If you continue reading that passage (which I highly encourage you do so), He assures the audience that the Gospel he has been preaching is not a man-made teaching, but rather a Truth from God most high, from our Creator, our Savior.

So what are we doing? Are we toiling our time away on Instagram to receive praise? Are we watching Netflix instead of doing work? Are we choosing comfort instead of God’s plan (trust me, His plan usually isn’t all that comfortable)? Yes. I can say yes to each of these but daily, I pray and work to be able to one day say no to these. I pray that you will ask yourself these questions and ask those around you– What are we doing?

Find friends that are willing to challenge the status quo.

The friends that will choose to serve others and love tangibly.

Community that loves and encourages.

People that ask tough questions and share Truth.

What good is Christian community if we’re not discussing deeper things and sharing the grace we’ve received from the God of Grace?