“Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”
Today I experienced a relapse into my old self, as happens now and then in my personal walk with Christ. Falling into old habits, I again return to the regularity of what my old self would do or say rather than responding the way I should in Christ. I am getting better in a lot of areas, sometimes shocked at my changed responses, but this situation today hit me in the heart. I’ll share the story:
I was scrolling through Facebook in an attempt to rid the app of the little red notification when I came across a set of photos that sent my heart into my stomach. Gator Country — the alligator rescue I planned to intern at this summer — had posted a gorgeous set of graduation photos one of their interns took at the park. Picture this: a beautiful girl thigh-deep in a swampy pond wearing her graduation cap and gown, face-to-face with a massive modern-day dinosaur lurking in the water. The pictures were absolutely gorgeous, but my heart broke. Shattered because it wasn’t I who got the opportunity to feed and work with alligators this summer, saddened at this passed experience, I put my phone down and exited the app, my heart heavy and my mind temporarily filled with doubt. I was at work, and I told my fellow guard briefly what had happened. He shared a few words in an attempt to cheer me up, for which I was grateful, but a panging sense of jealousy still lingered over in mind and in my spirit.
The choice I made next, however, was decisive in determining how the rest of my day was going to proceed. In the midst of the provoked, but not justified, jealousy — in the midst of losing sight about my purpose here in Huntersville, North Carolina — I let God invade my heart and spirit. Rather than shutting Him out, choosing to be miserable and, ultimately, choosing to let the enemy have a victory, I let Him in, ears open to what He wanted to tell me.
Suddenly I felt a sense of calm and contentment overwhelm me, and my spirit was filled with this word from the Lord:
“You’ve been obedient and you’ve been patient. That could’ve been you, but you chose to be faithful over what I called you to do rather than satisfy the desires of your flesh. When you do get the opportunity to do this — to work with animals — it will be so incredibly much more rewarding than if you had done this on your own terms. You will appreciate it more, as you have sacrificed your dream for the sake of obedience to Me.”
Instantly I felt seen, known, and held in the Father’s loving arms. For Him to reassure me of my decision to stay and of my future was an incredibly joyful experience that rested my mind and spirit. It was because of my willingness to conform to the image of Christ instead of a desire to return to my former mold that I was able to hear the Lord and His promise to me.
Almost as to reassure me of His love for me, a major storm appeared out of nowhere, the eye of the cell passing right overtop of us. I absolutely love thunderstorms, and I crave the summer torrents that plague Florida. Having grown up with those storms, I began to miss them soon after my move to North Carolina. This storm, however, was worthy of comparison to a Floridian summer storm. Thunder shook our building and lighting split the darkened sky. Now, I’m not saying by any means that the Lord sent that entire storm just for me, but I sure was thanking Him for it! It was a humble reminder that we are minutely nothing compared to the overwhelming power God has granted nature, yet we are everything to Him.
I’m incredibly happy for every intern that got to experience Gator Country in such a unique way this summer, and I’m particularly happy for that young woman who got to document her experience with those modern-day dinosaurs in such a meaningful way. No tinge of jealousy stirs in my heart at this point, as I know that my opportunity will one day come in God’s timing.
I urge everyone who may read this to make the daily decision to conform to Christ rather than the world or your former self. How? Choose not to reach in the way that you usually would. What would Christ do? What would the Bible say? When you begin thinking with the heart of Christ on the forefront of your mind, you simultaneously begin thinking about the ways that you have the potential to become more like Him. I feel myself falling back into the same cycle. How would Christ react differently? Seeing the two options that face you — reacting in your normal way or putting-on Christ's heart and reacting in that way —, it is the decision that determines how everything else will ensue. Choose the self and the cycle continues; choose Christ and you will be met with inexplicable peace. I believe that strongly.
It is there in the lowly surrender of self that the Lord will gently lift you up off of your feet, proving to you that He sees and cares for you. Hear the reassuring whisper of His voice in the silence of your mind.
1 Thess. 2:2
"...but with the help of our God we dared to tell His gospel in the face of strong opposition."