Change Can Be Positive

The last two years of my life have been laced with change. From sickness that caused former dreams to die to starting college to meeting people that have had a profound impact on my life in an incredibly short amount of time. There have been changes that I saw as good, bad, and everything in between. This is a speech that I wrote senior year about the change I’ve experienced and what God taught me through it. It’s a lot easier for me to speak about something than to actually live it every day, there are days that I resist change with every ounce of my being, but at the end of the day, I remember how far God has brought me, and that change, really can be positive. 🙂

— Taryn

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Everything {doesn’t} Happen for a Reason

 

“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive” — Genesis 50:20 (ESV)

 

“Everything happens for a reason.”
This saying shows up everywhere —  these words are given as condolences after a loss, athletes say it in their press conferences after major sporting events, it even finds its place on to Christian radio… but I have always questioned the statement’s validity.

I don’t believe that everything happens for a reason.

I think that there are plenty of evil, awful things in this world that never should have happened and weren’t meant to.
The verse I started with may seem to contradict the point I’m making here. But I don’t think that God causes every single thing that has ever happened on this earth happen.

Surely He didn’t cause Adam and Eve to sin, right? Genesis talks about how the LORD was grieved at the people He had made which is why He confused their languages at the Tower of Babel and sent the Great Flood. So it doesn’t make logical sense that God caused those things to happen. Allowed them, yes, but didn’t plan them with a purpose in mind.

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” — Ephesians 6:12 (ESV)

There is evil in this world. I think we can all agree on that. And as this verse talks about, it stems from the evil forces in this world. From Satan and his followers. I like to ignore or gloss over that, but it’s true. We as Christians are fighting a battle against evil that is very present in this world.

But God doesn’t want it to be that way. He never has. He created a beautiful, perfect world, He purposed for us to have abundant life and eternal, unhindered communion with Him. His will was not for evil to be in this world, but He gave us free will so that we could make the choice of whether to love and serve Him or not. Because He is all-good, all-knowing, and completely perfect, when we rejected that, we allowed evil to enter this world. And that evil brought consequences.

Pain.

Death.

Suffering.

But that is where the beauty of the story comes in. God didn’t leave us off by ourselves to cope with these things, and His power didn’t cease to exist when we rejected Him. When we choose evil, He still fights for us and works all things for good.

That is what Joseph is telling his brothers in the verse I started with. God was not stopped by their evil motives and actions, because God is more powerful than we can ever comprehend. So the fact isn’t that God chooses evil for us or to be in our lives, but rather that He reigns sovereign over it, that He always has and always will claim the victory.

One day, He is coming back on the clouds to claim this world that He has never for a moment let go and on that day…

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” — Revelation 21:4

The comfort is not in knowing that everything happens for a reason, but rather in knowing that even the evil in this world doesn’t stop our God. That is what I’m clinging to no matter what happens in this world. No matter which president gets elected on November 8th. No matter how awful things get. My God is bigger and stronger and more powerful than it all.

— Taryn

I’m so sorry this went up a day late, midterms have been crazy!! But I wanted to go ahead and note ((mostly to hold myself accountable to it)) that I am going to try posting on Mondays again, but take a less traditional route. I am going to try to share my heart through other ways than just stream of consciousness blog posts. I have a few things I want to share, so we will see how that goes! Thanks for reading! 🙂

Being a Steward of Strength

“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace” — 1 Peter 4:10

Growing up in church, I heard the words “steward” and “stewardship” get thrown around a lot. Usually, people use them in reference to money. You are a good steward of your money if you use it wisely and in a way that would glorify God. When we are really stretching our minds, we say that we should be a good steward of our time or our possessions. Using them in the most astute manner as to please the LORD. But when I was lying in my bed one day extremely sick, I felt God nudging me saying, “Taryn, I need you to be a better steward of your strength.”
“Wait, umm God, I know You know what You are talking about, but what do you mean a good steward of my strength? I’m doing everything I can with my strength to glorify You, isn’t that what You want?”

I’ve told the story before of having mono and all the long term affects that has had on my health, my life plans, and everything else. My game plan through the whole thing was to try to prove someone or something wrong. Whether that was the doctors, people who told me I couldn’t keep doing everything, or the diagnosis itself. I wanted to prove that I could still juggle high school, working, pursuing a professional piano career, volunteering at church and school, my social life, and everything else. Well guess what? I couldn’t. But I adamantly refused to admit that until I was flat on my back unable to move for two days just because I went to the park with my friends.

Still, I was determined to do everything that I possibly could and never stop to rest when I could have been doing something for the kingdom of God. It took God completely knocking me out of commission to get a point across. 

“Taryn, you need to be a better of steward of your strength”

“But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses so that Christ’s power may reside in me.” — 2 Corinthians 12:9

Sometimes, God doesn’t give us abundant strength. But He always gives us what we need for what He has in store for us. What would happen then if we wasted all of that strength before we got to what God wanted us to use our strength on? That’s what I have been convicted of so often recently. 

My mentality has been to use up every last ounce of strength that I have or “hit the bed hard” as my youth pastor likes to say. But here’s the problem, I’m using the strength just because I have it and then I run out… and then I completely miss what God wanted to do through me. 

When I wake up in the morning and jump out of bed and run errands just to prove I can, I waste all my energy and make myself sick. Then that night when God asks me to go help out a friend who needs encouragement, I can’t because I’m too sick to get out of bed. 

So yes, God asks me to do things for Him. And He gives me the strength for them, He promises His grace is more than sufficient, but that doesn’t mean I can’t waste that strength. I want to learn to be a good steward of the strength I do have and use the gifts God gives me the ways He wants. Time, money, resources… and strength. 

I’m After You

Britt Nicole’s new album came out this week, and I may or may not have been listening to the song “After You” on repeat ever since… the song was initially my favorite simply because of its musicality, but the words have struck a chord in my heart and shed light on something I’ve fought with for my whole life.

“I’m not after the world, I’m after You”

That thought is so simple. And I think I’ve always glazed over the enormity of it.

I’ve always wanted to think my life was about chasing after my Savior. I know Luke 9:23; you must deny yourself and take up your cross to follow Jesus, but for some reason the simplest lessons can be the hardest for me to learn. For some reason I let my head knowledge justify that I definitely haven’t been doing much denying myself in my walk with the LORD.

The part of those lyrics that hits me hardest is the stark contrast. To be after Him, to be chasing and following my Savior, I can’t be after the world anymore. I can’t pick both. I have to aspire to be something so much higher than any earthly standard. I have to live to please my Savior rather than people.

That’s where the irony comes in though. Because to me that sounds like immense pressure. Having to live up to some heavenly standard sounds ridiculously harder than pleasing the world, but in actuality, it’s not. The most freedom I have ever found has been throwing off the chains I shackled myself with. I have bound by wanting to live for this world, wanting to prove something to this world, wanting to be enough for this world. But in the end, all of that is going to come to nothing anyway. So why is that what I waste all my time and energy doing?

Because I want it.

I want to please the world.

I want my parents, friends, mentors, professors, and everyone else to be proud of me.

I want to prove that I am smart, strong, responsible…

I am after the world.

My goals… have always been aimed at here, at earth. I’ve wanted the success, the grades, the popularity, the looks. And sometimes, I even convinced myself I wanted them for the “right” reasons. I convinced myself that I wanted to do all of those things for the glory of God, that working hard and being mature proved I was a “good Christian”.  And yes, I truly believe God wants me to work hard and do my best at the things I do (Colossians 3), but I have always stumbled in what my motives are for working so hard.

I have been a middle school camp counselor the past two summers, and I absolutely loved it. In and of itself, that role was about serving Jesus and pouring into younger students’ lives. But I quickly realized that I wasn’t always serving for the right reasons. I gave every last ounce of energy I had for those two weeks. I was constantly looking for ways to help someone else. I loved when an adult counselor would say, “Wow, you’re so responsible!” I loved when I got the recognition and praise. That fueled me. That made me want to keep going. That made me want to do more. But what kept me going wasn’t that I was pointing my students closer to their loving Heavenly Father. And that breaks my heart.

I don’t want to be after then things of God for the sake of the world anymore. I want to be after Christ alone no matter what this world thinks of me. No matter whether I get any praise. And even if the opposite is true. Even if I get ridiculed and rejected. The love of my Father should be all that matters. And I want to finally live in the freedom that can be found only in chasing after Him. I don’t want to try to please this world anymore, well, that’s not true. I want to, but I want to chase after Jesus more, and it’s way past time to actually get my priorities straight.

Taryn

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