School is officially over for the year, family is in town, holidays are in full swing, and with just a few days left in 2015 and Urbana15 just hours away, I thought it would be a good time to look over a couple areas of my spiritual life that have grown over the last few months. Through these areas in particular I have seen God move in me this year and I hope to continue to grow in these areas (and more) throughout the next year.
Prayer is so central to a relationship with Jesus and yet it is something that I often shy away from or relegate to a pre-meal ritual. During this busiest of semesters, I’ve come to recognize the immense power that really comes from praying. Too many times I forget that prayer isn't just a spiritual chore. Prayer is a time to step away from life and worries in order to focus solely on God and to enter into his presence. For me, that moment is much needed and yet I tend to dismiss it when I don't think I have enough time.
Luckily, I live in a community of prayer and in the midst of one of our fellowships' prayer meetings while praying for areas of the world I began to ask myself, what if I really believed my prayers had the power to really change the world? As I asked God to bring healing to areas that need him I began to realize two things.
The first is that prayer is an exercise in trust and faith. In taking the time to present yourself before God you are trusting and believing that he is in control and that he will provide, something that is contrary to my own will to be independent and self-sufficient. In realizing that prayer is not just about me talking but about God's faithfulness in listening, I started to see prayer as a source of peace and stability in my busy life.
The second thing I began to realize is that while prayer is a time to enter into the presence of an all-powerful God it is also a way of loving others through thanks and petitions. To pray for and with others is to love them through sharing the love of God. If I truly trust God to provide for me, as he has so many times, it only makes sense that I would also want and trust him to provide for those around the world. I found that praying for others forced me to open my hearts to their needs and to consider the magnitude of work that God does outside of just my life, and in doing so I got an even bigger picture of God's plans of love and redemption for the world, which we are so blessed to join in with.
You can’t really see that big picture though, without first seeing other people as God sees them. This year as a small group leader and part of the exec team of our fellowship, I have had to constantly remind myself the nature of serving is to be loving towards others. In the midst of responsibilities and my personal nature it is easy for me to get so caught up in what I’m doing and worrying about that I don’t stop to consider or care for those around me, which is the exact opposite of how God calls us to live with one another.
I have been so blessed to be where I am as a student, leader, follower of Christ, but it is useless if I am only using these roles for myself. It is not easy, when I want to only think of myself or when being in community with other imperfect people causes hurt, but in looking back the times where I got to share my life and service with others is far better than those when I preferred to be on my own. And as our fellowship has made it halfway through another school year, I have learned that I will find more joy in remembering to be grateful for the people around me and to continue to serve well by loving others.
Urbana15 & 2016
We’re going to ring in the new year in just a few days, and as I look back, I am thankful for all the blessings, opportunities, and growth God has provided this year, and I can’t wait for what the new year will bring. I am planning and hoping to continue to grow in my dependence on God and my love for others, and I am so excited to see what other areas of my life will be transformed throughout this next week and year. Urbana15 is here, and I am ready to start 2016 in the presence of God.
See y’all soon!