Sunday, February 24, 2013
My sweet readers, please take the next 8 minutes to watch the YouTube video below.
(or copy and paste this link, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tl58qufXfYk)
His name is Nick Vujicic. Born in 1982, in Melbourne, Australia, Nick lives his life without limbs. He was born without any arms or legs. Yet through his story of hope we see that although he must forever live his life without limbs, he lives a life without limits.
"God is using someone with no arms and no legs to be His hands and feet."
The life of Nick Vujicic teaches us that we don't have to be what this world considers "perfect" in order to serve as God's instrument. God uses our imperfections to show the world just how perfect He is. Nick has no hands, yet he is God's hands. Nick has no feet, yet he is God's feet. The world may see Nick as "abnormal" or "imperfect," yet when God looks at Nick, He says in awe, "Altogether beautiful you are, my darling; there is nothing in you to cause a fall" (Song of Solomon 4:7). God sees something wonderful in Nick, despite his imperfections, and God has given Nick the strength and the wisdom to bring countless people to the heart of Jesus.
"I have a choice to either be angry at God for what I don't have, or be thankful for what I do have."
So maybe Nick doesn't have any arms or any legs, but get this: Nick is still alive on this earth. We must consider him a lucky one simply because he is breathing. His heart is beating, and in the midst of the chaos of his situation, his heart is beating for Jesus. I can't think of a more beautiful kind of heartbeat.
"I found out that God can heal you without changing your circumstances."
Nick found peace at the foot of the cross of Christ. There came a point in his life when he knew that God was going to do something beautiful with his situation. He began to understand just how much light God was ready and willing to shine on His darkness, if only Nick would let Him. Repeatedly he asked, "Why, God? Why did You make me this way?" God's response: "Do you trust Me?" And in the words of Nick himself, once you say yes to this question, nothing else matters. Once you learn to trust in Jesus, nothing else matters.
I need you to do something for me. Think about Nick's story. He has no arms or legs, yet he is happy. He is physically broken, yet his soul cries out sweet melodies to Jesus. "The joy of the Lord is [his] strength" (Nehemiah 8:10). I need you to realize that no matter what you're facing in your life today, God can give you hope for a better tomorrow. God can heal you without changing your circumstances. I need you to realize that you have a very simple decision to make: you can focus on the hint of darkness in your life, or you can see the light God has shined upon your soul. It's a choice between light and darkness, life or death. A choice to either be angry at God for what you don't have, or be thankful for what you do have. Above all, I need you to realize that our purpose on this earth is to be God's light - to notice what great light He has shined in our lives and to be that same light in the lives of other people. "You are the light of the world; a city on a hill cannot be hidden" (Matthew 5:14). God can even use someone with no arms and no legs to be His hands and feet. God did not come to save those whom the world considers perfect, but He came so that we may find freedom from our imperfections in Him. Jesus says to us, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners" (Mark 2:17).
No matter what you are going through, you still get another day to breathe, another day to live, another day to love. For that, you are considered a lucky one. So keep breathing, keep living, keep loving, and let every breath you breathe, every day you live, and every person you love be for the glory of our great God.
To learn more about Nick's story, click here.
Song of the Week: "I Wanna Live Like That" by Sidewalk Prophets
Sunday, February 17, 2013
"You light a lamp for me. The Lord, my God, lights up my darkness." Psalm 18:28 (NLT)
Song of the Week:
Darkness. If you haven't been there, you will one day. No one makes it through this life without at least a little bit of darkness. That being said, what is the purpose of this "darkness?" If we are so unbelievably and undeniably loved by the Creator of the Universe, why is it that He fails to save us from struggle? Why does Jesus, the One who loves beyond comprehension, allow us to suffer through periods of intense darkness all throughout our lives?
On Thursday, I was speaking with one of my Theology professors here at Notre Dame. I asked her these same questions: "If God is so loving, why does He allow His children to suffer?" My professor's response was interesting: "It's easy to ask why a good God would allow bad things to happen to His people, but the real question we must ask ourselves is why God would allow good to happen in the first place." The truth is that we do not deserve God's grace. Do not ask Jesus, Why do you allow bad things to happen in my life? Instead ask, Why are you so good to me? What have I done - little, imperfect me - to deserve Your love?
I truly mean it when I say that there is nothing better on this planet than the love of Christ. I know in my heart without a doubt that Jesus is real - He is active, He is alive, He is living in our hearts. With this in mind, I am starting to realize just how good He is, and how I am so undeserving of His goodness. Psalm 8:4 reminds us of just how crazy it is that our great God loves sinful people like us - "What are mere mortals that You should think about them, human beings that You should care for them?" And yet Romans 3:10-11 says, "No one is righteous, not even one. No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God," and Romans 3:23 says, "For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God's glorious standard." In the midst of our constant sin, Jesus is still mindful of us. In the midst of our shortcomings, He loves, He forgives, He renews.
Yes, there is sin in this world. Yes, there is so much suffering in our day to day lives. But you know what else there is? There is a God, waiting - just waiting - to light up your life. There is a God who might allow you to walk through darkness, but only for a short while, so that He may be the One to rescue you and bring light to your life once again. I speak from experience when I say that, ultimately, darkness can only bring you closer to the Lord. You just have to let it. Let the darkness in your life be your reason for clinging to Christ. Let the darkness encourage you to run to His open arms.
When I look back on the course of my life, I wouldn't change a thing. I am unbelievably grateful for my struggles, for they have brought me closer to Christ than I ever thought possible. It is because of these rough patches, these times of intense darkness, that I am the growing (yet far from perfect) Christian that I am today.
My prayer for you today is that you may begin to see your struggles differently. When you think about your sufferings, don't let them pull you away from Christ - let them be your reason for clinging even more to His grace and His great love. I hope that you may begin to see your past differently, focusing less on the darkness and more on the light Jesus has brought/will bring to your life. Trust me, He is just waiting to light up your life. Let His light reign in your hearts today.
Song of the Week:
Fill me with Your light, Lord.
Monday, February 11, 2013
A three-year-old girl was running wild in an open field, skipping and jumping and clapping her hands. She was like the bright sun itself, with a sweet smile on her face and constant giggles leaving her lips. Where was she headed? Why was she all alone?
All of a sudden, from the very middle of the field, came a voice that had that ability to sooth a soul: "My princess!" He said. Her smile widened; the laughter continued. Immediately, she headed for His embrace. They met. He scooper her up in His arms and spun her around and around, just as she always liked.
As the sun began to set, the light burning deep within her soul continued to shine, for He was near. And in His arms was her bliss.
A few nights ago, this is the bliss of which I dreamt. That three-year-old girl, with a sweet smile and constant giggles, so at peace in His arms - that three-year-old was me.
Jesus, thank You for this precious little dream. You tell me in the Gospel of Matthew, "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of Heaven" (Matthew 18:3). Help me to be Your little child, obedient and faithful, always aware of just how small I am without you.
After all, one of the best feelings I've experienced is the feeling of being small - spiritually, not physically.
The more I realize just how small I am, the more I realize just how big You are.
The more I realize just how weak I am, the more I realize just how strong You are.
Where I lack in size and strength, You more than compensate.
My challenge to you this week is to have faith like a child. I can't stand when people call themselves Christians, yet boast of their great faith. To be a Christian is to be humble, to be weak, to be small, to be so in need of a Savior that you cannot live or breathe without His strength. I challenge you to experience complete dependency on His goodness. Pray to Him; call to Him; cry to Him. Let His strength be your strength.
I'll leave you with this: imagine your own three-year-old self, running and jumping in His arms. "Daddy!" you squeal. "Daddy, I've missed you!" After a short pause, as He holds you close, He whispers, "I've been here this whole time, My love. I'm always here. And I'm not going anywhere."
Beautiful little Emily, God's precious gift to earth.
Today and everyday, let's be His little ones.
"The Lord is my strength and my defense. He has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise Him, my father's God, and I will exalt Him." (Exodus 15:2)
Song of the week:
Sunday, February 3, 2013
In the past few weeks, I have come to a spectacular conclusion: each of us is a human being. Before you wonder why I insist on stating such an obvious conclusion, listen up (or rather, read up). Each of us is a human being. We are flesh and bone. Each of us is a living and breathing person. Even if you know someone who is the exact opposite of you, you have this in common: you are each distinctly human - living, breathing human beings.
There's nothing more beautiful than feeling another's heartbeat, than realizing that the person sitting next to you is just like you: human. There's nothing more overwhelming awesome than realizing that you, in fact, are not alone and there are 6 billion out there in this world just like you in so many ways.
There are 6 billion other people with a heartbeat like yours, although not quite the same.
There are 6 billion other people with a smile like yours, although not quite the same.
There are 6 billion other people with a story like yours, although not quite the same.
And most of all, there are 6 billion other people with a struggle like yours, although not quite the same.
That's a whole lot of heartbeats, a whole lot of smiles, a whole lot of stories, a whole lot of struggles.
And with these heartbeats, smiles, stories, and struggles, and with all the time each of us has on our hands, it is easy to begin to make your own judgement of any individual's heartbeat, smile, story, or struggle. Yet what we must remember is that there is nothing more unattractive than hearing someone speak poorly of another person. When you talk about someone behind their back, your stabbing words are only a reflection of who you are. The extent to which you love or fail to love another person is a direct reflection of the extent to which you love or fail to love yourself. Throughout the past few years of high school and the beginning of college, I have realized that when I speak poorly of another person, all I am doing is making a fool of myself. I am only embarrassing myself, for when I use my words to hurt another, I am only displaying a complete and utter lack of confidence in the beautiful individual whom God has created me to be.
I have realized that my only goal in life is to love others well. My only purpose on this planet is to love and be loved. Everything else is secondary. Nothing in this world brings my heart more peace than the beautiful people I have been blessed to call my family and friends. My friends and family are my foundation, the reason I am who I am today, and I know that without them, I would have no purpose on this earth. My community gives me my purpose, for without my community, how could I fulfill my life's mission: to love and be loved?
Last week, I had dinner with a friend of mine here at Notre Dame named Rachel. Rachel is a spectacular human being, an angel to say the least. I have met very few people like her. At one point, Rachel explained to me her new goal in life, to invest fully in each of her relationships. She shared with me her goal of striving to focus solely on the individual before her, on the living, breathing human being - so very much like herself - directly in front of her. As she spoke, I could see the genuine love inside of her eyes, a passion for humanity, a heart like no other. It was beautiful, to meet a person not only completely in love with the Lord, but equally as in love with the idea of helping other people find total happiness.
Tonight, my heart is at peace. For the first time in a long time, I am supremely happy. Am I were I need to be? No, of course not. But then again, one should never feel complacent in life, no matter the circumstances. Always keep striving, always keep pushing forward. Keep loving like I know you can. The only way to find real happiness is by making other people happy. Joy is just a side effect of loving others well. If you don't feel happy, chances are you're probably not doing the best you can to love the people in your life, whether family, friends, or the strangers you pass each day. You get one simple life to live and it is absolutely pathetic to waste it in hatred. Let love fill your heart on this day, and let peace carry you through the night.
God, You are just too good to be true. My heart is at peace, my heart is supremely happy, and You are the reason behind it all.
Although we may not all be quite the same, what a beautiful thing it is to love others well - to love and be loved on every day, in every place, and in each moment. They will know we are Christians by our love. (John 13:35)
Songs of the Week ~