Heart over Sacrifice//Emma//VCU

This summer has been one of refinement and learning God’s true heart and character. I am a do-er and since becoming a Christian a little over a year ago I get caught up in works. Constantly feeling like I must repay God for what he has done for me and proving that I am worthy of his love and attention by what I do. After “giving my summer to the Lord” I expected to be in a state of spiritual bliss all summer – sitting in Jesus’s lap and enjoying his presence because “look at me God, I chose to serve you this summer.”

I did not realize this was my mindset until about half way through my summer mission with Cru[in Hampton Beach, New Hampshire] when I was plagued by spiritual dryness and just feeling burnt out. I was envious of the girls I was with as they shared how their intimacy with the Lord was growing and growing. “Lord, why? My quiet times have been extra long, I spent extra time on the beach for outreach, I prepared extra for Bible study, I don’t give in to (insert sin struggle here), etc” I thought.  Then I remembered  Luke 10:41 “Martha, Martha…” I immediately blocked that out because I didn’t want to hear it, and Martha might as well be my middle name.

As the summer progressed God continually brought me to a place where I had no choice but walk by the Spirit. After continually trying to earn his love and constantly failing he taught me to press into his grace. He taught me that he wants my heart over my sacrifices. He wants surrender not perfection. 1 Corinthians 13:3 says, “and though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing”. I can give all away and do all that I can but God cares about my heart. Not only that but he blesses me according to his grace not according to my performance. He loves me because that’s who he is and he loves me despite my prideful attitude this summer. Falling in love with Jesus feels like actual falling sometimes but this summer has taught me to love freely and rest in his grace.

 


emma

 

Hey all! My name is Emma and I am currently a second-semester “super” junior. Meaning I am old and should be a senior by now but life happened so here we are. I am an Exercise Science Major at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA. I am a lover of Jesus, fitness and anything that has to do with peanut butter. I am currently training for my next powerlifting competition and I absolutely love how the Lord has used it so powerfully to teach me perseverance through set backs. I also spend most of my time discovering the endless quirks of Richmond with my best friend Roxy, who just happens to be a Doberman.

For Times When Jesus Lets Things Crumble…/Sarah/VCU

ESFJ is my Myers Briggs. For those of you who know about these magical letters and love them, you know what that means. For those of you who do not (**giving you a sassy/shocked look in my mind**), this is what it means- being the personality of “ESFJ”, I love to have control, order, and stability. I enjoy knowing what is going to happen and I feel secure and comfortable in that. Over the last year, the Lord in His loving kindness has graciously tossed that idea out of the window. Life now is not ever what I dreamed it would look like. It’s been a hard year, but a sweet year.

Let me take a poll. How many of you have answered the following or a variation of the following question: “So what are your plans for the future/after graduation/next year/ (any given timeframe)?”

**everyone raises their hand**

I don’t think anyone gets through college without being asked that question a few (billion) times. If you have, God bless you and you are a rarity. A year ago I had a pretty solid answer for that beloved/hated question. I could have confidently told you a loose timeline of the next 2-10 years and how I thought life was going to be like. Now? Girl, I have no idea.

Our culture and even our own personalities thrive on knowing what we’re doing and having a plan. We don’t usually like to be clueless or uncertain. We like to be comfortable. We like to have a plan and usually… we like our plan the most. I know I liked mine. Yet, in this past year the Lord has given and taken away and mixed everything all up in the process. In this year He has left me with more question marks than answers and He has shattered my dreams. My dreams and my plans are totally ruined because of Him. He wrecked my comfort and my confidence in my planning. (Love you though, Jesus. Promise I am getting to the good part, just wait.)

I have learned that sometimes He takes our plans and He lets them crumble. He lets our hearts be broken. He lets our hopes be let down. He lets our bubbles pop. And He lets our dreams be shattered, all because He loves us and He knows what is best for us. When this happens, we are confronted with questions like: Is following Jesus worth it? Is He alone enough? Why would He let ____ happen? Why would He allow ____? Do I really, reaaaaaally have to trust Him with my life?

The answers to the previous questions are- yes, yes and yes. I have asked myself all of those questions in this year and more. I have struggled, really struggled with asking, Is Jesus and His plan better than mine? Again, the answer is yes. He wants what is best for us and He knows that He, Himself is what is best. Most times it takes being out of control to show us Who is in control. Let
me tell you, it is not a fun process. Tears, anger, anxiety and doubt may bubble up when things don’t go as we have planned them. In those times we
either fall to our knees or turn our backs. Through this year I have learned many lessons in this, let me share a few of them…580fb9e43ddb75f59f98ecde1a093c9e

  1. God is good. God is good. God is good. He swaps out our good plans for His better ones. His ways are higher and He remains good no matter the circum
    stances. Psalm 100:5 says, ‘For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.’
  2. He is faithful. He is faithful to keep His promises. He didn’t just start being faithful to us either, it’s not a new thing He just started doing. Look at scripture and see His faithfulness. In Genesis, God calls Abraham out from his country into an unknown land to be the father of a multitude of nations who fears and loves the Lord. God is fa
    ithful to uphold His covenant of blessings and provision. In Exodus, God calls Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt and as we read, we see that once again God is faithful. Ultimately we can look to the cross and see He was
    faithful to complete the work of redeeming us and reconciling us to Himself. The list can go on and on. If we trust Him with our salvation, may we trust Him with our future all the more?
  3. The word of God is our sure foundation. Things change, people change and our plans change but God’s word stays the same. Isaiah 40:8 says, ‘The grass withers and the flowers fall,
    but the word of our God endures forever.’
    Scripture shows us God’s character, His grace, His pursuit of people, His love for us, His wrath, His justice, His goodness. It corrects us and encourages us. It gives us a new outlook and shows us our purpose. We may not know what we are doing 6 months or 6 years from now but God’s word is the same yesterday, today and will be tomorrow.
  4. Jesus is better. We may not be happy with where He’s leading us and there may be emotions that need to be worked through as He’s guiding us, but my sweet friend, there is joy in knowing you are exactly where He wants you to be. Happiness can be so fleeting but true joy comes in knowing you are following after Jesus. He is better, even when it doesn’t always feel like it.
  5. He gives us our daily bread and enough manna to live through the day. What in the world, you may ask? Check out Exodus 16. After Moses led the Israelites into the wilderness, they are hungry and quite grumpy…’hangry’ as some may say. We see God’s provision for them as He provides manna each morning. It was enough to get them through the day, nothing more and nothing less. He provides the same way for us now. Thankfully most of us don’t have to collect our cereal from the streets every morning, but we do need surrender each day to the Lord, asking Him for enough strength, wisdom and grace for the day ahead. Just one day. Not tomorrow or the next year, but just enough for today.

So, we may still awkwardly laugh and say “I don’t know” when people ask of our plans, but we can have confidence in these five things. He takes our dreams and plans, potentially lets them shatter, but only so that He can put the pieces back together to make something more beautiful than we could ever dream. Trust me, He is good. He is faithful. He is better. He is enough. And knowing Him and being more dependent on Him is always worth it.

 

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Hello 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.