Tonight I will be closing a chapter in my life. The chapter of childhood. When we count down to New Years, I will be counting down to adulthood. I've survived 18 years of blessed madness, and God has brought me safely to this milestone in one piece.
But of course, once I pass this milestone, there's no going back. So in an effort to summarize 18 years of existence into one short post, I'll begin with the things that I have come to understand in this little life of mine.
1. God is real. It's debated among the professionals. It's argued among the scientists. It's the defining point of any worldview. I've wrestled with it for years, and have had countless moments of doubt. But through logic, good teaching, and personal revelation, I can truly say that there is no doubt in my mind. No matter how many arguments I hear, the evidence for the God of the Bible trumps them. Every. Single. Time. So while a good portion of my life so far has been spent speculating and pondering and questioning God's very existence, I've come to know that there is no other option. My prayer is that I cam go deeper in my knowledge and understanding of God. I want to move past the basics. I want to rest assured in the truth of His existence, and then learn more. I want to be done with the milk, and move on to solid food.
Hebrews 5:13-14 ~ "Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil."
With this truth in mind, I am ready to dig deeper than ever before. I want this knowledge to stand firm in my mind, so that it can be the root of every thing I say and do. I want the reality of God and heaven to be so tangible and evident in my life. God has convinced me of himself, and it's time to follow Him as He reveals more of himself to me.
2. God is righteous. Similar, but definitely different. There are many who believe God is real, but are not convinced that He is what He says He is. He says He is all-good, and many cannot reconcile that statement with the horrible tragedies that happen every day on this planet. "Why would a good God allow bad things to happen?" It's a fair question, and I've wrestled with the question and have explored many verses and cases. In short, God has put my mind at peace with this understanding: He is infinitely big, and we are nothing. He is infinitely good, and we are corrupt. He is all-knowing, and we are shallow and blind. How, therefore, could we ever expect to question God's ways? How could we, who have no understanding of true righteousness, understand the One who is truly righteous? It's impossible. Our mortal brains cannot comprehend anything perfect... at least not on this side of eternity. We can question God's ways. We can point a finger at Him. We can shake our fists and demand answers. OR, we can be still and know that He is all-good, and all-loving, forever. It's a truth that we can only accept through faith. It doesn't mean we understand every earthquake, tsunami, or act of terrorism. But it means that we choose faith when we observe everything that God does or doesn't do. He has things under control, and His righteousness and love are 100% steadfast.
Job 36:26 ~ "Look, God is greater than we can understand. His years cannot be counted."
3. Material pleasure is worthless. I've written too many posts about this topic for it to be ignored. This is one thing that God has laid heavily on my heart. Although I still fall into the temptation that wealth and material things bring, God has been chiseling away at that weakness for quite a long time. Heading into the big one-eight, it brings me joy to be able to say that material possessions are no longer occupying any pedestal in my life. I'm not perfect, but this is one thing I am convinced of. God has taught me that possessions can not be my be-all and end-all. Rather, they are tools. They are tools that can and should be used to honour God in some way. So now, I thank God for lending me everything I have- and I'm pretty stoked to figure out how to use all these assets to give back to Him.
1 John 2:15-17 ~ "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever."
4. Evangelism is not an option. This is something I figured out years ago. Ever since my first opportunity to witness to a group of strangers face-to-face, the realization of the emergence of evangelism has never wavered in my mind. It's the dreaded 'E' word that scares so many children of faith. However, being convinced of the absolute reality of God and heaven, I cannot deny the reality of hell. In that case, how can I possibly give any excuse for shying away from the opportunity to share Jesus with the unsaved? I can't, and I won't. I've waited 18 years for the chance to be recognized as a responsible citizen of this world. It takes 18 years until we are technically recognized as people with intentions, goals, dreams, opinions, and plans. (At least, it sure feels that way.) I've spent a lot of time on this blog talking about my "someday." "Someday I'll go overseas...." "Someday I'll be a street evangelist..." "Someday I'll be a youth pastor..." "Someday I'll be a speaker..." "Someday I will be published..." And when I said "Someday," I meant, "When I'm an adult." Well, I may still be in high school, but I can't postpone 'someday' too long. While it's hard to do much when you're stuck in school working hard for a piece of paper in June, it's a life that is envied by most of the world. This education, though it's taken up almost all my life so far, will hopefully be worth it in the end. Hopefully, it will be what can open the doors to opportunities to serve God with everything I've learned. A new chapter of my life starts when the clock strikes midnight, and I don't want to pass up a single opportunity to fulfill my role as a disciple of Christ. I want to live with #noregrets. And by that, I don't mean getting wasted and living recklessly. No, I mean that at the end of my life, I don't want to be haunted by the God-callings that I ignored, or the opportunities to use my gifts that I was too scared to take. I have plenty of those already, and I'm ready to be done with that fear.
Romans 1:16 ~ "For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes; first for the Jew, then for the Gentile."
5. I can't stop writing. In preschool, I played my first few notes on the piano. In kindergarten, I started singing. In grade 3, I started dancing. In grade 6, I started swimming. In grade 7, I began to focus on academics. In grade 9, I started this blog. And while all those things have opened up so many opportunities already, I've loved the experiences and amazing chances I've gotten with all these different pursuits. Travelling, performing, competing, ministering, worshiping, working, creating, teaching, leading, and witnessing are just a few of the amazing things I've gotten to participate in and, God-willing, life's just starting! While all of these things have led to fantastic experiences, writing has been something different. I've been self-publishing blog posts for just under three years, and I honest cannot believe the amount of feedback. I remember writing my first post and thinking, "This is embarrassing. Who would care to read the thoughts of a small-town junior high girl?" And that's just the first of many times that God has shown me His love for turning mediocrity into something remarkable. My blogger dashboard shows me the different countries across the globe where people have stumbled upon my scattered thoughts. People have been nothing short of gracious and generous in their feedback and constant encouragement. These posts have been read at services, funerals, and youth groups- and nobody is more amazed than I am. It's not me. It's all God. I've had encounters with strangers who have told me that God is using my writing, and that it would simply be wrong to stop. After about the hundredth encounter, it was clear. This is something that I need to continue to do, and pursue after high school. I have every intention of writing my way to the grave. I had many nights in past years where I lay awake so worried about the future. I would pray fervently that God would show me His plan, so that I would have a clue what to do with my life. I am so privileged to be one of the lucky people that gets His plan spelled out in black-and-white, right before my eyes. He has been patient with me by telling me His plan through so many different people. So whatever happens after grad, you can bet it will have something to do with a paper, pen, Bible, and keyboard.
Matthew 25:29 ~ "To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away."
I could turn this list into a novel, but I have a blog with 108 posts that cover the rest pretty well. When I try to look far back into the past, I can see so many blessings and lessons that God has showered on me from day 1. In just a few short hours, I will close chapter 1 and open a fresh blank page titled, Chapter 2. I have ideas, thoughts, and clues as to what kinds of adventures these next pages might illustrate, but I'm not the author. Where I'll be from now, only God knows. Wherever I am and whatever I'm doing, I pray that I will be standing firm on these five foundation blocks that I believe God has drilled into my life.
Good things are comin'. In death or in life, good things are comin'. Life is tough, but Jesus is tougher. With Christ in us, there is no room for fear. We are nomads in a place not our home. We're just passing through. So get up, pack up, and put a brave face on. We've got a Daddy at home that never loses sight of us for a second. This is your life. Are you who you want to be? This is your life that you are borrowing from God. So the better question is, are you who He wants you to be?
Bring on 2016. And bring on adulthood.