For 40 years I lived a slave to my flesh and did whatever my body told me to do. Over the past year, it seems like the theme that God has been teaching me is “abide, benefit, endure” – to abide in His presence, benefit from His goodness, and endure with the help of the Holy Spirit.
Today, the last thing I felt like doing was getting some exercise; I have had a horrible headache for the past two weeks. All I’ve been tempted to do is stay in the bed, but for fear of losing the endurance I have worked so hard to learn, I got out of bed today and was obedient. My body was screaming “no,” but I chose to put it under subjection.
After spending an hour walking and talking with a friend, we went opposite directions, and I decided to try and jog in the park. As I often do, I set a mental goal for myself – today, I was going to run four miles without stopping, in under 40 minutes.
I was humbled 2.5 miles later, when I broke my pace and began to walk because I just couldn’t jog one more step. So I laughed to myself, and I repented quietly to God for being boastful and proud in the first place.
I felt like God asked me to just take some time and walk and talk with Him, so I humbly asked Him to please fellowship and talk with me. At the very instant that I got that out of my mouth, I looked down and saw these two flowers that were perfectly laid out in the shape of two hearts and snapped a picture. I thanked God for His simple love letters like these that He leaves for me throughout my day and carried on my walk.
A few minutes later, I looked up at a light post and saw that it was marked by the number “40-20”, so I got out my Bible app and looked up the 40th book, 20th chapter – (sounds silly, I know, but that’s what I do when God seems to highlight a particular number in my path). The 40th book of the Bible is Matthew, and the 20th chapter is about the first and the last – the called and the chosen – a conversation I had just previously had with my dear friend while we were walking – not even an hour earlier. I read the chapter; I stopped and meditated upon what I read. I even sat down on a bench that God led me to while I was on my walk, where I looked down at a pile of cigarette butts that had been pushed into a perfect pyramid.
I scattered them out and counted 24 of them – wandered if there was some hidden message in that too. I got back up, continued my walk – and as silly and as unbelievable as this might sound, I decided that I should also read the 4th book of the New Testament – the 20th chapter (which was John 20) I giggled again, as I scrolled to the chapter and found the very story that my husband and I have been assigned parts for in the upcoming resurrection play.
There was no “ah ha” moment in my day, just a constant awareness of God’s presence and perhaps even His delight in me when I obey even what might seem silly to others. There have been times in my obedience that God has given me some amazing revelations and moved in supernatural ways – but more times than not – it doesn’t seem like anything of any value happens. But today, I’m thankful that I am simply learning to be obedient and listen to what I believe is His still small voice.
God woke me up this morning! As unsupernatural as that might sound to other people – it’s a miracle to me – you would’ve had to have known how I lived for 40 years of my life!
Today, as I’m running, I’m learning to abide, benefit, and endure. God has been teaching me to practice self-control and obedience. I’m learning that this fleshly shell on the outside is not truly who Joyelle is.
Sometimes, we might not know why God asks us to do a particular thing that might seem foolish at the time. In fact, we might never know the “whys” on this side of heaven, but I’m going to keep walking in obedience to my Master and looking for opportunities to serve Him throughout the day. I thank Him for the times where He puts two heart-shaped flowers in my path – just to let me know that He loves me.
Random thought – many are called, but few are chosen. I’ve often wondered what’s the difference between the “called” and the “chosen.”
At the end of my walk today, I was thinking about produce at the market – and this thought crossed my mind: I can call something a grape all day long, but until the customer walks by and selects the grapes that he will actually buy – well they’re really nothing more than fruit sitting and rotting.
When I select the grapes I want to purchase, I look for the ones that appear to be perfectly ripe, abundant on the vine , and the most fruitful – the kind that looks like it’s ready to be eaten.
I wonder if that’s how God chooses His own? “Lord, today let me be found before You fruitful, polished, and ready to be used for Your consumption.”
I’m not pretending to know how God thinks. I’m one of the most ignorant people I know.
What I am saying is that I am confident of the fact that what makes me different today is that I am constantly trying to understand who He is and what He wants from me – instead of what I want for myself. Today, I believe that I am called, and I want to be chosen.
For many years of my life, I intentionally ignored God’s voice and what I believed to have been His call on my life. I don’t want to waste anymore time as a slave to my flesh – wandering in the wilderness of this world – forsaking the approval of my Father for the popularity of man or the seeming “benefits” this world attempts to offer. Today, I choose to abide in the grace, mercy, and favor of Jesus Christ and use every benefit that He offers because of His death and resurrection. Today, I endure, and I will not quit.
I don’t want my posting what I accomplish during my jogs each day to be misinterpreted as my trying to boast in my flesh. Anyone that has known me for any length of time, knows that my flesh is really not that capable, and that I have struggled with obedience most of my life. I post the accomplishments I make because I’m trying to scream out to the world that Jesus Christ is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we can possibly ask or think. My walks are something I choose to do out of obedience, as I learn to subject my flesh to what I believe God has asked me to do.
I truly believe that a day is coming soon where God’s people are truly going to have to be sensitive to God’s still small voice, and depend upon His Spirit more than ever before to ignore what our bodies tell us to do. I am trying to prepare for that day. Personally, I have practiced doing what I wanted to do for much too long. Today, I submit myself to spiritual boot camp.
When you see me on my walks – please don’t compliment me for what seems to be my personal accomplishments. I might seem to have it all together, but I’m truly completely broken. Anything, and I truly mean ANYTHING good that comes out of me – I can promise doesn’t come from my flesh. Instead, when you see me walk, be encouraged by the knowledge of who I once was, and know that Jesus Christ has changed my life in such a way that I am trying to learn to walk in obedience to Him as much as I possibly know how to, while eagerly looking for flowers along my path.
This is the time where God instructs me and constantly humbles me by showing me that I can’t do anything on my own. I am learning that I really don’t want to do it on my own anyway – what good is it to accomplish many wonderful things in the eyes of the world and find it is meaningless to God because I did it independent of Him?
I’m not looking for the applause of men anymore. I want to stand before the Lord and hear that He has, in fact, chosen me. I do not want to be one of the called but not the chosen. I want to be found standing in the grace of Jesus Christ, reflecting His glory, and basking in His delight in me.
Do not be fooled into believing that I have it all together. I don’t have it all together, people. I’m utterly dependent on the Lord Jesus Christ. Every time I step out in the morning and think I can do it on my own, God allows me to fall flat on my face and reminds me that I’m in great need of His help.
I’m learning that God is not looking to stuff my bag full of goodies, pat me on my back, and tell me to get on my own way. He is looking for me to be broken and spilled out; He is looking to become the strength, the joy, the peace, and the healing that I need to make it throughout the day. I have nothing to offer anyone except for Jesus Christ. Any joy – any peace – any satisfaction that I can offer the world of myself will only leave them wanting for more. But, when I allow God to fill this broken vessel with His presence and that overflows upon the people around me, that will be the conduit that will ultimately change their lives.
When you see me running down the street, let it be some sort of proof to you that God still changes lives. He still uses broken people. He still delivers the lost and the hopeless. He still answers prayer. He still saves the addict and the prostitute.
I’m tired of wearing a mask and acting like I had it all together. I’ve never had it all together. I take off my mask to declare to the world that I’m broken and that God is good. I am taking off my mask and letting other people know that I’m hurting and needy and that God is my ever present help in time of need. I’m a filthy rag.
“God wash me. Wring me out. Use me for Your glory.”
I’m struggling, body of Christ. I still have many days where I sit hopelessly thinking in my mind rather than praying. I get irritable and lash out at my family. I deal with thoughts of pride, jealousy, and rejection. And every day that I’m clean, I’m encouraged by counting the months that it’s been since I was last dependent on something other than God. But in the same breath, I’m also reminded that I can make the same stupid choices in the blink of an eye. When I am tempted to become proud of what God has brought me out of, I am convicted and humbled by the knowledge that I still haven’t found the freedom from the nicotine addiction that I have submitted myself to since I was 12 years old. As much as I am learning to let God strip me of my flesh, I am still constantly reminded that I cannot do it in my own strength. God is cleaning me up, one layer at a time. And as long as I live in this world, that process will never end.
If I seem foolish for sharing my struggles, then I am sorry – but I felt pricked in my spirit that people need to see me as human and trying – not religious and perfect. The lost will never be comfortable being vulnerable around me, as long as I hide behind a mask and appear like I have it all together. The only thing that truly separates me from the unbeliever is my faith and obedience to Jesus Christ – trusting Him with my life – letting Him break me of myself and teaching me to submit to His Word. I act just like a newborn baby sometimes that goes from crawling to instantly learning how to walk and hopelessly falls down. I often get full of myself and think I can do it on my own, then God allows me to fall flat on my face and humbles me, as He begins to teach me again that He doesn’t want me to do it on my own but to be completely dependent on Him.
I haven’t written a lot lately – just haven’t felt like God has really given me a word to share. But today, I felt driven to share this. Hopefully, there is somebody out there reading this who needed to be encouraged. Whoever you are – and whoever it is that you’re believing God to save or whatever change it is that you’re believing that He will do in the life of that loved one you are believing for -speak the Word of God over that situation. Abide in the Word, reap the benefit of His presence, and endure. Don’t give up! Trust God to do what He has promised.
Let my testimony be living proof that He can help the hopeless.
As scattered-brained as this post seems to me, I believe I wrote what I was supposed to – and I’ll end with this declaration –
Yesterday, I proclaimed proudly that I would run 4 miles in 40 minutes. I was humbled last night by a nagging headache that I have had for two weeks that felt like it was blinding me. I woke up today and repented to God for my boasting. In the end, my walk took me over two hours – I couldn’t jog more than 2.5 miles of it! What have I learned? God is far from finished with me….I’m not going to listen to what my body tells me to do, and I ain’t quitting!