Tuesday, April 26, 2016

When You Don't Need Jesus

I haven’t been doing my quiet times every day like I used to back home.
I haven’t gone to church once since I’ve been here.
I’ve only halfway listened to a podcast from my church in Houston.
I’ve only read two chapters in a devotional book.
I’ve listened to worship music once.
God and conversations about religion have only been spoken a few times.
I can count on one hand the times I’ve prayed here.
I’ve been here for 27 days and just today I realized something has been missing.

Back in the states when I was in school I always stressed about my classes, my grades, and what GPA I would graduate with. I was always “talking” to some guy, trying to get over an ex-boyfriend, and daydreaming about the guy I thought would be perfect for me. I was trying to get over my past while dreaming about my future. I wasn’t living in the present. But I had people around me who perpetually pointed me to Christ, and having that kept me grounded.

Back in the states, after I graduated and while I was living in Houston, I prayed every single day for an opportunity to continue my soccer career. I had family and a community who lifted me up in Jesus’ name constantly surrounding me. I went to church every Sunday with my parents, and went to a community group every Wednesday with my friends. I had people to talk about faith with, and problems to turn to God with, and faith to hold onto when I was scared about how my life would look the next 365 days.

I needed Jesus to ease my worries about school.
I needed Jesus to fix my broken heart after breakups.
I needed Jesus to calm my anxiety about the unknowns in my future.
I needed Jesus for an opportunity to continue my soccer career.
I needed Jesus as my rock to turn to in my fear.
I needed Jesus to heal my injuries.
I needed Jesus to tell me what my identity was in Him.
I needed Jesus to assure me I would be taken care of.

My days here in Iceland are simple and my life is stress-free. During the week I wake up whenever I want to. I choose to workout in the mornings for an hour or two. I eat lunch with the other Americans at the same restaurant every day, and I order the same chicken salad. The afternoons are spent watching TV, hanging out, exploring or relaxing. I eat a snack and head to practice later in the day. When I get home, dinner is waiting for me, and nights consist of reading, or talking with my family, or FaceTiming with people back home. I go to bed later in the night, and wake up to another stress-free day.

I don’t need Jesus to wake me up in the mornings.
I don’t need Jesus to help me as I’m trying to learn Icelandic.
I don’t need Jesus now that I have a paying job.
I don’t need Jesus to calm my fears about my future anymore.
I don’t need Jesus to heal my now-healthy body.
I don’t need Jesus in my new life here in Iceland.

I listened to a podcast today from the church I went to in Houston. The topic was patience in affliction, and the text was pulled primarily from James 5. I’m not currently going through any major affliction, yet the symptoms the pastor talked about that arise from not trusting God and lacking in patience fit me surprisingly perfectly. While I’m not struggling with patience in affliction, I am struggling with patience in a dry season in my life, and still trusting God every day. I think I’ve been so content the past few weeks just living my life for me, I haven’t “needed” Him in my life.

Even though I haven’t been struggling with major life issues lately, I’ve been feeling empty and joyless. I’m happy on the outside, and on the inside most of the time, but there is no lasting joy in my life. My life is simple. My life is stress-free. I’m surrounded by friends and I’m meeting new people and life has been good.

I started reflecting today on the past few weeks of my life here in Iceland, and I noticed a trend start to emerge. The things that come out of our mouths reflect the state of our hearts. The things that have been coming out of my mouth have been an obvious red flag that my heart is not completely satisfied, and it took one podcast to show me that.

Majority of my days are spent with the other two Americans on our team, Megan and Jaclyn, because the Icelandic girls either work or are in school during the day. The topics of every single one of our conversations the past few weeks have been either about boys, pointing out the things we don’t like about our bodies, commenting on how we need to eat better and workout more, commenting on soccer plays and tactics, and talking about shopping and spending money. Each of us have brought up and commented on each of these topics, and most of the time the conversations have a negative twist.

If my heart were satisfied with my singleness, I wouldn’t feel the need to constantly talk about past relationships and complain about the lack of a new one. If my heart were satisfied with the way God made me, I wouldn’t feel the need to look in the mirror every day and point out all of my flaws, then talk about them with my friends. If my heart were satisfied with my job, I wouldn’t feel the need to complain about petty things and get frustrated when I don’t perform how I think I should. If my heart were satisfied with my life right now, I wouldn’t feel the need to buy new clothes to fit in or look a certain way. If my heart was truly satisfied in Christ, the words that come out of my mouth would be life-giving, and positive, and full of joy, instead of negative and joy-robbing.

Even in stressing about school and graduating, I had joy because I knew whatever happened was in God’s plan for me. Even in Houston, in being anxious and fearful about the unknowns in my future, I had joy because I knew God would take care of me wherever He wanted to lead me. In my broken hearts, my worries, my mistakes, God was the center of my life and He gave me SO much joy. I may not have serious problems here in Iceland, but that doesn’t mean I don’t still need Jesus.

I will always need Jesus to turn to when I’m feeling sad.
I will always need Jesus to remind me I was made in His image, and that I am beautiful because of that.
I will always need Jesus to pour love and life into me, so that I can pour love and life into others.
I will always need Jesus to be an example of how I should live my life, and how I should treat others.
I will always need Jesus to talk to about my worries, no matter how big or small.
I will always need Jesus to praise for how He has delivered me from my dark past.
I will always need Jesus to give me the fruits of the spirit, because those can’t come from myself.
I will always need Jesus to remind me I am not worthy of forever with God, but because of His sacrifice I get to spend eternity with Him.
I will always need Jesus to completely satisfy my heart and soul.

It makes me sad that I’ve thought I haven’t needed Jesus since moving here to Iceland. For every trial He has brought me through, every sadness He has lifted me out of, every blessing He has poured over me, and every incredible opportunity He has provided for me, I should be praising Him in every word that I speak.

Looking around this beautiful country should be a reminder every day of just how magnificent our God is.

When I don’t need Jesus, I am trying to satisfy my heart with other things. When I think I don't need Jesus, that’s when I need Him the most.

"I am with you and will keep you wherever you go" Genesis 28:15

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