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To God be the glory!
On the mountaintops it is so easy to declare the goodness of God.
You can shout it at the top of your lungs as you look around at the wonderful place you are at. You can dance and praise God for what He's done, because honestly things are going just how you always dreamed and planned. It is so easy then.
But it's so much harder in the valleys.
The low places where the shadows of the trees loom above you and everything is quiet. Sometimes in those moments you don't even hear God.
And it's hard to praise Him for His goodness and declare it for the world to hear with joy in your heart.
Because not everything is going your way. Not everything is working out the way you planned and purposed for it to work. Not everything is how you dreamed it would be. And it hurts.
The sin in this world causes an ache that is impossible to avoid.
Physical, emotional and spiritual pain rages around us and we are left at the bottom of this valley wondering how we got there and why it had to happen. We look up at the mountaintop and think it is too far away. And maybe we are even bitter towards those who are standing on the mountaintop. Wondering how they got there and everything turned out the way they planned it. Wondering where God is in our situation and how we could possibly praise His goodness now when we feel so empty.
Yet if there's one thing I've learned about the valleys and mountaintops of life, it's that it depends more on your point of view than your location. You could be in the deepest valley of your life and still be seeing it from the point of view of standing on a mountaintop.
We live in a broken world. Bad things are inevitably going to happen. Our hearts are going to break, our lives are going to shatter sometimes and we're going to lose things we love.
But in those moments, how will you react?
Will you stand there, screaming and demanding God to tell you why things couldn't go according to the plan you had? Or will you stand there and know? Know that He is God and His character is good no matter what?
I know it hurts. I know it tears your heart apart sometimes.
I've lost people I loved. I've watched people I love go through serious health issues. I watched my twin sister walk through a painful and fragile surgery that broke my heart. I have felt rejection. I have felt unworthy and not enough. I have had to let go of my dreams. I have had to walk away from my plans and hopes.
Yet I have also seen beauty come from ashes. I have seen my dreams come true. I have seen my books in the hands of readers who loved them. I have seen the people I love be healed from sicknesses. I have seen God do miracles.
And in both these valleys and these mountaintops, I am here to tell you that God is good in both. Because His goodness does not depend on us or what we are going through. His goodness is who He is and He never changes.
"For I am the Lord, I do not change; Therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob." ~Malachi 3:6
His goodness will never change.
The National Bible Bee was the biggest part of my life for five years, and even now as I continue to be involved as Alumni. Making the Senior Semi-final round and Final round of the Bible Bee was my dream for five years. I dreamt about it and prayed desperately for it. Finals was my dream and I studied really hard. And by the amazing grace of God that still blows me away, He placed me in the top 15 semi-finalists my last year in the Bible Bee, 2015. A gift that I will always treasure.
I was that much closer to Finals.
Then I made a simple, one word error in my recitation onstage during Semi-finals.
I was eliminated.
And with those words I lost the dream I had held in my heart for five years of being a finalist.
Through the tears pouring down my cheeks, I ran into my mom's arms immediately after semi's was over. The first thing I said to her was the same thing that I believe today.
"God is good."
Do you believe that today? No matter the dream that you lost? No matter the heartache you are facing? No matter the pain in your heart? No matter the shadows in the valley?
Will you believe that He is good and because of that you can see the mountaintops from the valley?
Trust Him today, no matter what.
His goodness will never change.
First off, I know I haven't been writing on this blog near as much as I should lately and I apologize. I do have a pretty good excuse however which you all will see in probably another month or so (like, you know, maybe a book). ;)
Yet this morning my heart ached to write.
So as usual when that happens, I just decided to sit down at my computer and type and see what happens.
And I wanted to ask you a question.
Are you awake?
I'm not talking about literally being awake here. (Sometimes I'm still half asleep in the morning too, it's okay.)
What I'm talking about is being spiritually awake.
I have noticed an epidemic in Christian circles that is beginning to burn out the fire that once burned brightly in the hearts of those who love Jesus.
I call it apathy.
The dictionary defines apathy as, “the absence of emotion or enthusiasm; the trait of lacking enthusiasm.” Some synonyms to apathy include: indifference, unconcerned, lethargic.
Take a look around you and I’m pretty sure that it won’t take very long before you begin to notice those who are apathetic. Those who are indifferent to what is going on in the world around them and those who stay out of certain issues because, “it’s none of their business.”
Many people live apathetically, but of course they wouldn’t call it that. Some people call it tolerance.
Don’t speak up when doctors kill unborn babies, because it is the “right” of the mother to let them do it and forget about the child's right to life. Tolerate it when they take any form of Christianity out of the public schools, because there isn’t anything that you could do about it anyway.
Do you see what apathy leads to?
Sadly, I am seeing more Christians and those who claim to be religious, live apathetically—not non-believers.
Many atheists and non-believers are out there defending their rights. After all, that’s how Bibles began to be kept off public school property, babies began to be killed, and people began to destroy the true meaning of marriage.
All of these things happen while Christians stand by and tolerate it because they don’t think there is anything they could do to change it.
They say they are praying about it and that’s doing all they can. They sink into apathy.
Don’t get me wrong. Prayer is the most important thing that you can do to make a difference. Praying to God and seeking Him should always be the first thing that you do. And in certain cases, sometimes, yes, it is all that you can do.
But not in most cases.
Because God gave you a voice. And He didn't just give it to you to keep silent and watch the world turn its back on Him while doing nothing to help stop them.
God does not always want you to just pray about something and then forget about it, leaving someone else to deal with it. God never wanted you to live apathetically. He wanted to use you.
That’s why He said…
“Open your mouth for the speechless, in the cause of all who are appointed to die. Open your mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.” (Proverbs 31:8-9)
“He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)
“Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; when you see the naked, that you cover him, and not hide yourself from your own flesh?” (Isaiah 58:6-7)
“Therefore He says: Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.” (Ephesians 5:14)
“Learn to do good, seek justice, rebuke the oppressor, defend the fatherless, plead for the widow.” (Isaiah 1:17)
“Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.” (James 1:27)
“I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.” (Revelation 3:15-16)
“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)
We are not meant to stand still, half-asleep, with our mouths closed tight. When others threaten our beliefs, our God, we are not meant to tolerate it.
And the world will make you think you have to keep quiet. Oh, how they will try to silence you. But we don't have to listen to them.
God has chosen to use us in this world. I don’t know about you, but that is a humbling thought. But I also want to make my God proud. I want to do what He asks of me.
When babies are killed, I want to speak out and say, “This is wrong.” When the meaning of marriage is twisted I want to say loudly, “Wait a minute, this isn’t how it’s supposed to be.” When Bibles are taken out of school and prayer is prohibited, I want to stand my ground and keep on praying. When children are sold into slavery, I want to be the first to stand up and say, “This is evil.”
We are the light of the world and whether we realize it or not, the world is watching.
They are watching to see whether or not we stand firm in what we believe. They are watching to see whether or not we give into apathy and let it give us permission to sleep…while our little lights slowly begin to be blown out by them.
There is a time to be silent. There is a time to back down.
But this is not that time.
This is the time to wake up and show the world what we believe.