So if you're reading this that means you probably know me personally and know that I have been a Christian for a long time. For as long as I can remember actually (I can even remember making sure I was a Christian by asking God into my heart as a young child at least once a night just to be sure). Well I just have to share how amazing it is when God is teaching me something new and I suddenly realize it. Lately, I have been in a terrible funk. Stuck in fact! I couldn't get past certain thoughts and ideas about who I was and who I was expected to be by everyone but God himself. Do you ever get bogged down by other peoples expectations (or the worlds expectations)?
Well, I get together with friends to study the Bible once a week and we just finished the Pentateuch (Genesis - Deuteronomy). We were trying to figure out what to read next and I didn't know really what I would be interested in reading but someone suggested 1 & 2 Peter and I am so glad that they did. I wasn't overly excited about it at first but I knew that I wanted to have a more fulfilling and interesting Bible study experience, so I 'decided' to be passionate about 1 & 2 Peter. I read through it and had some disjointed excitement over various things but as I began to take notes and look for the "big picture" of the book I began to be encouraged. I volunteered to help lead because one of the guys would be gone the next week and nobody else volunteered.
My Grandparents were gracious enough to let me borrow their commentary on 1 & 2 Peter (The Letter of James and Peter by William Barclay), and after reading it I feel like I am finally released from the weight that was holding me down. One verse in particular that I read jumped out at me, 1 Peter 1:13, "Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed." When reading it first I thought that it meant we need to not only look to the future of our joy in Christ but prepare ourselves now and put our hope in the grace that Christ gave to us. In the commentary though there was a section that I couldn't get enough of and want to share:
"Here, then, Peter is telling his people that they must be ready for the most strenuous mental endeavor. They must never be content with an easy and superficial acceptance of the faith. They must think it out. It may be that they will have to discard some things. It may be that they will make mistakes. But that with which they are left will be theirs in such a way that nothing and nobody can ever take it away from them."
So many things in what I've been reading and hearing lately have prepared my heart for what I was reading there. I had just read prior to this "Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach.... no the very word is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it." Deuteronomy 30:11-14. Not that I've ever been a very sinful person (sin is sin though), in fact most people think I'm almost a saint (if only they knew), but I do struggle with my thoughts and how they affect my relationships with others. This was another encouragement to be more right-related with others and closer to God. It's easy to be discouraged and feel like you can never understand but God is guiding us to understand Him better all of our lives, if we only open our eyes and ears to his word/guidance.
And further in the book of 1 Peter 2:1-3 it tells us to "rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good." This may be a strange analogy to you or not (probably not considering how musical all of my family is, except for me), but I've been attempting to learn the guitar lately. I started a few months ago and got discouraged because I didn't understand it and my fingers didn't want to do what I wanted them to do. Well I tried again the other night and all I can say that it was like learning to walk again. Trying to get my fingers accustomed to the movement and not push down on certain strings but do on others was extremely difficult. But, I knew that if I continued to practice and aquaint myself with the movements then before long they would become second nature to me. This verse speaks to me in that way. We are to be like newborn babies, who don't know how to do much of anything and need to learn how to do everything. It's not easy to learn how to walk or talk or play guitar. In fact it can be painful to use muscles in a way you've never used them before, but the more that you do it the easier it becomes.
I've known areas of my Christian walk where I've been lacking and have been unsure of where start improving upon them. Now I'm excited and encouraged to do it one step at time. Cliche as that may sound it's been a huge encouragement to me lately and hopefully has encouraged you in some way as well.