I returned to the Bible study Open Table the other night as planned. What I didn't realize though was how God was going to speak to me, how powerful the scripture and discussion was going to be. Everything was good, from the start my mind was racing with answers to the questions that were posed. One question/scripture really caught my attention though and it was the 7th question and the scripture came from Matthew 7:24-25. The scripture reads: (Jesus says) "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall because it had its foundation on the rock." Now, as soon as I read this I started thinking about some of the weddings I have been to in the last year and a half, and stay with me as I break this down. At some of these weddings instead of doing the traditional lighting of the Unity Candle, the Bride and Groom have down a "mixing of the sands". What this generally looks like is the Minister takes a rock and places it in a glass vase to signify Christ being the Eternal Rock that this marriage will be built on. There are many scriptures that reference God as being the Eternal Rock on which we should build our lives such as the one above and one of my favorites Isaiah 26:4. The Bride, Groom, and Minister then proceed to each dump a different colored sand over the rock, the bride and groom's sands are colors of their choosing, but the Minister's sand is white to symbolize the purity, grace and mercy that comes with two lives becoming one in Christ. All three are poured in simultaneously, mixing together to show that these two have become one in Christ. The vase is then sealed with wax so the newly weds may keep this as a memory of that day. Now there is a reason this verse applies to all of us and God placed a different idea on my heart. Let me ask you this, should there only be a rock in the main vase? Should only the unity of two lives becoming one be built on the Rock Eternal? I say simply, no. Both the Bride's vase and the Groom's vase should each contain their own rock. We should be building our daily lives on the Eternal Rock so that we are much more stable and balanced when we are united with the person God made to perfectly compliment us. Why would you want to try and stick two unstable foundations onto a solid piece of the puzzle, that can't hold both people without tipping one way or the other? The tipping is what causes separations and divorce, heartache and headaches. I think it is crucial that our generation build our own houses on a solid foundation daily, that way we can add that experience to the vase, and stand a little more firmly on our Rock, our Creator. Why don't we challenge ourselves on a more daily basis to build our lives on the solid foundation of Christ? I'm not saying that no one does this, I just don't think it's as prevalent as it should be, I know it's something I have struggled with. Take this challenge with me, each morning wake up and start your day with Christ, eat lunch with Christ, take your coffee breaks with Christ, spend time at the gym, in the car, in your room, or at your job with Christ and fully focus on that time. See if your life doesn't change... Grace and peace
My life seems like it has been a whirlwind since I returned from Africa. God has done so many amazing things in my life, I feel like I am being blessed far beyond what I deserve which makes me think about how truly unworthy we are. Last night at small group we had a discussion about God being a part of our lives, about if He accepts us for who we are, and so on. I was blown away at the thought that God, the creator of Heaven and Earth, completely accepts me for who I am, merely because He loves me. No matter how many times I screw up, no matter how many times I fail, or let Him down... He always lifts me up. I guess I never realized how much hope I truly have only because I know God on a personal level. Throughout my life I have merely gotten by as far as the whole Christian thing is concerned, until the last few years. When I really decided to hand my life over to Christ, I realized during our conversation last night, that I no longer fear the same things, I have hope for good results in difficult times, I look forward to what He has planned. I think I am just blown away by the fact that He shows us grace... at no cost to us. Jesus didn't just die on the cross to forgive our sins... Jesus died on the cross because He loved us so much He couldn't bear the thought of not having us join him for eternal life in Heaven... this whole idea makes me think of my own life... Show.More.Grace. I realized that a lot of times in my own life, I expect things from other people before I show them grace. I expect an apology at the least... and even then sometimes I fail to show them grace. But JESUS showed me, you, and all of us grace, before we were even alive, before we had even been conceived. AND if Ephesians 5:1 says "Be imitators of God" shouldn't we be willing to show others grace more easily, if Jesus could show us God's grace centuries before we were around?? I realize this post is a little scatter-brained, but it's something that has been stirring around inside me most of the day. I'm still trying to wrap my head around it... For that matter I'm still trying to wrap my head around all the amazingly wonderful things God has done in my life in the last week and a half (and of course before then too)... For the first time I feel like I am the character in a book, watching my own story unfold, a story that was set into motion long ago, a story that already has an ending... and for the first time, I don't want to put the book down, I want to keep reading, and see what great adventures and devastating disappointments await me... Grace and Peace
I apologize for the lack of updates following my return to the United States, but fear not, now that I am home for good I intend to update multiple times a week. Let's get to the real meat and potatoes right off the bat. Ethiopia. Wow... I.Am.Changed. I had no idea what to expect when I left this place for a third-world country, for a place I had never been too, to a place that I knew very little about. It's probably a good thing I had very little expectation for my trip, because it allowed me to be open to everything God wanted to do in my life. As some of you know our trip started out pretty rocky with some delay in flights, causing us to spend a whole day in Detroit (yippeee) and miss a whole day in Ethiopia. God had a purpose though, God used that time to prepare our hearts even more, and to bring us together before we even got out of our comfort zones. The time spent in that hotel began memories that I will cherish for a very long time, and it set a precedent for the rest of the trip. I realized that God was going to teach me a lot on that trip, I realized this because He started with a lesson in patience and faith when our flights got messed up. When we arrived in Ethiopia it was 1:00 am there, and we were exhausted. The ride from the airport to the compound I was completely mesmerized by everything around us, I didn't feel an ounce of exhaustion during those 25 minutes because I was so floored by the knowledge that I was in Africa. I had no idea what the next day would bring and I didn't care a bit, I was ready for anything. I.wasn't.ready. Monday was... hard. The work was good but difficult, and after only having about 6 hours of sleep, traveling for 2 days, and sleeping very little on the flights I was ready to collapse at the end of the day. We were building a house, and we got started that morning, working, learning, and doing everything that we could to push through until quitting time. I was ready for bed at 8:00 pm that first night, and I slept like a baby. Being away from my family and friends proved to be much more difficult than I expected it to be, I struggled greatly those first few days. However, that was part of God's plan. I learned how to PRAY... let me explain that. I have always prayed, I have always brought my troubles before God and asked him to fix them, but up to this point that was about all I ever did. When I think about it, and I am truly honest with myself and all of you, I realize that my prayer life was...well... pitiful. I used this analogy tonight at small group, and I said that a lot of times I treat God as a landlord. What I mean by that is that I call on Him only when things are broken, and expect Him to fix things with little help or effort put out by me. This really came to the forefront of my realizations in Africa. I noticed that I didn't pray the way that I should. It wasn't about the amount of time I spent praying, rather it was the way that I was praying. I needed to be in full conversation and fellowship with my creator while I was praying, and not once a day but throughout the day. So I started praying more on our trip. I prayed specifically for a few different things, I prayed for discernment, which He provided, and I prayed for the full Ethiopian experience, and that I would be broken. Be.Careful.What.You.Pray.For. I had no idea God would answer in the way that He did. Even the answer to my prayers for discernment was a bit of a shock, but it ended up being what was best for me, even if I disagreed originally. The other two prayers is really where I want to focus though. I prayed to be broken... and I was shattered in a million pieces. God not only broke me spiritually in providing great conversation, teaching me about my own prayer life and faith, but also emotionally in being away from and without communication with my family, and physically. Emotionally... I felt alone at first. I will honestly say I speak to my parents every day, even at school I would at least email/text one of them. I was used to talking to my sister, my favorite Old Tymer, and my best friends. Other than a few emails I had no way of communicating. God used this time to teach me about depending on Him for comfort rather than depending on others. At one point on Wednesday I was furious because I hadn't received an email from my family at all. God placed a peace on my heart that told me to not be angry, and I prayed for forgiveness, then I prayed that He would encourage me that day, to keep pushing forward despite my emotional break. An hour later I logged on to my gmail account for the first time and I had 6 emails from family and friends, talk about encouragement! I felt this sense of calm, I was ready to continue serving my God with the knowledge that people were praying for me at home. I felt on top of the world to be honest, and at 8000 ft. elevation, that's not hard to do! Then something else happened... remember how I said I was physically broken as well? That hit hard and hit fast. I woke up Monday morning, after a week in Ethiopia, feeling as though I was going to die. I was ready to write my will. Convinced that I had malaria, I found the strength to get up, I made it the 10 ft to the bathroom and got sick. It stayed that way until Wednesday afternoon. I didn't eat for 3 days and lost 15 pounds. I was miserable. Yet, I got what I asked for. God not only broke me yet again, but He made sure I got the whole Ethiopian experience. T.I.A. This is Africa. The Fehl's explained that being sick was just part of it, and that I prayed for it and God provided... next time I go out of the country I will be a little more cautious. However, the time spent in bed/bathroom allowed me to read, pray, and think about everything that life had thrown at me in the last few months. I was able to make some big decisions, realize some things, learn a few lessons, and enjoy a good book. I am so thankful for those three days that I was sick. Here.I.Am. So here I am, I'm back in the U.S. and completely changed by my trip. I learned a lot about myself, about how to live my life for God, and about the things that aren't necessities in life. I am now back in Columbus, IN. Living at home, reading, doing as many things with my church as possible, enjoying my family, hanging out with friends, getting back in shape, playing golf, and searching for a job of course. Now, this isn't the end of the updates on what happened in Ethiopia, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Stay tuned if you want to here the rest. Grace and Peace.