I was really grateful for an awesome getaway with my mom this past weekend. We had a blast in Chicago (RELATED: Shedd Aquarium: A Must See Attraction) and I took plenty of pictures (Click HERE to see some more).
In many ways though, I am feeling much more homesick lately. Having a couple of days with my mom-- and a super comfy hotel bed-- made it very hard to come back and get back into the swing of college life. The change in weather has also brought out a bit of nostalgia. For the first couple of days, it seemed that everything reminded me of home. It makes sense though, because I've spent the first 18 Septembers in my life surrounded by my family at home.
Classes are finally picking up, and while I'm finding my workload has increased (Two hours of math homework this morning...yuck!), I am handling it quite well by operating on a "work" schedule from roughly 9-4. This allows me to get most of my work done, and causes me to be very grateful for the work ethic that's already been instilled in me. I know I'm very well off in that area compared to many!
I've been having a difficult time with accepting where I am, both in faith and athletics. I am so tired and discouraged by my daily swimming and rehab. In the same sense, I am very tired and frustrated with my lack of God. I want more and more of Him, but fall short of that in almost every way. I am on the right path of wanting more of God, but I am in the wrong mindset of how to get there. In most areas of my life, I have to tell myself to stop beating myself up and just relax. While that is also true here, I realize I also need to buckle down and take my relationship with God more seriously-- more seriously than surfing the internet at night or giving in to sin that I could easily avoid. I guess that's the problem of the human race though: we are sinful at the core, and as Paul rightfully stated, I (we) have the desire to do what is good, but cannot carry it out. "For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do-- this I keep on doing" (Romans 7:18c-19). It makes me feel a little better to be in good company...
There is a fine line though, between beating ourselves up and being to slack. Maybe the medium lies in grace (RELATED: Grace). I'd like to assume that I just dole out grace the way God would desire, but often its the counterfeit of just letting myself off the hook. Then, I realize that and tighten the reigns. I guess what I'm getting at, is that God has a better plan in mind for me (and you). He desires for us to come to him and say: "Daddy, I'm struggling. I want to follow you, but my sinful desires are taking me all over the place." He wants us to come to him; he wants us to be honest. He also promises that he is with us in all things and does not give us a temptation more than we can bare.
So, looking forward: stare sin straight in the eye! Don't coddle it or coax it, don't condemn yourself for it. I had no intention of writing about this, so I take that to be from God. He is reaching out to us in love and I can just imagine him saying, "Child, I have so much more for you than this counterfeit, and the counterfeit of grace you are using to cover it up and the condemnation you are bringing upon yourself." I pray that we become so dissatisfied with anything less than God's presence in our lives, that we turn to him in the moments we don't think we should. These are often the times when God often speaks in real and powerful ways. These are also the times when we can access the power of the Holy Spirit and make a 180° from where we're headed. That's where I want to be!
We are in a raging battle, but there is hope in the knowledge that He is with us and has a better plan for us the sin we often get tangled up in. We need to fix our eyes on him, and everything else will come into alignment of his will for our lives. It helps to look at the joy that we will receive, rather than the "loss" we perceive we will have when we leave sin behind and head for the cross. For me, that's where I'm headed-- after I reread Romans 7:18-19. It's not an easy journey, but it is an exciting marathon up a mountain. Every step we take gives us a little better glimpse of the kingdom above and the glory God's created below. Every step we take, we get a little more "in shape" and a little less desiring of our sinful "couch potato" life.
Before I drag this analogy on for who knows how long, I'll leave you with a simple quote; a quote that struck me and made me realize that I'm truly fed up with my habits of sin, and I want more and more of God in every moment. We can't worship _______ (Insert here: ourselves, money, time, control, ect.) and God. We worship one thing alone. All else detracts from that worship.
"I have tasted a thrilling fellowship with God which has made anything discordant wtih God disgusting. This afternoon the possession of God has caught me up with such sheer joy that I thought I never had known anything like it. God was so close and so amazingly lovely that I felt like melting all over with a strange blissful contentment. Having had this experience, which comes to me now several times a week, the thrill of filth repels me, for I know its power to drag me from God."
- Frank Laubach, Practicing His Presence