God’s Work in Me

I’ve been incredibly blessed attending Lighthouse Bible Church for the past 5 months. I’m not going to lie, there have certainly been struggles along the way while attending Lighthouse. My introverted self would much rather stay at home than go out and socialize, even though I know how important it is to fellowship with the church body. I find it hard to go up to people I don’t know very well and like to stick to talking to people I already know. I still desire a community with Christ-centered relationships, particularly with women, but often get caught up in the expectation that other people should be reaching out to me, rather than considering how I can minister to other people. I sometimes struggle in having the right attitude when going to church or care groups, but always end up leaving feeling convicted and thankful for having gone.

All in all, I am so thankful to be at Lighthouse. The heart-piercing sermons are always incredibly convicting, causing me to look at my heart and rethink whether I truly know God and have a deep, intimate relationship with Him. I am constantly reminded of the hope I have in Christ and what He has done, and not anything I’ve done or will ever do. Because of my sinful nature, I will always fall short of God’s glory. Although I may seek to fulfill the law on my own, I will constantly fail. But God’s son Jesus fulfilled the law by living the perfect life and dying on the cross to pay for the penalty of my sin. He redeemed me so that I may be seen as blameless before God. And because of that, I have hope in eternity.

God has used Pastor John’s preaching to cause me to consider whether my life – on a day-to-day, hour-to-hour, minute-to-minute basis – really reflects Christ’s work in my life. Not that works lead to faith, but faith produces works. If I am truly saved, there should be evidence of fruit in my life, not only in the big decisions, but in every little part of my day. Do my words speak of God’s love when I encounter a parent/child at work? Am I being gentle when I’m having a difficult conversation with my parents? Do I joyfully serve my family even when I’m feeling frustrated or upset? Am I responding patiently to the person who cuts me off on the freeway? Do I lovingly point people to Christ whether in correction or during their trials?

If I am truly a Christian, my “odor” ought to completely wreak of Christ – in my words, actions, even facial expressions. Everything I do ought to point to Christ. All for His glory, and not my own. I pray that God would help me become more “salty” in His name.

Recently, I feel like God has revealed to me His purposes for a really challenging period I went through in the past.  Freshman year of college was the start of my “rebellion” against God. I was in a doubting phase of my life when I began to question Christianity and whether God was truly real. Overtime, I grew apathetic and eventually had no interest or desire to seek answers. I wanted to do my own thing and decided I’d think about Christianity later, especially now that I was on my own without my parents breathing down my neck.

I had never felt like I really belonged in high school and decided that this was my time to start fresh. I began looking in all the wrong areas for satisfaction, whether that be in popularity, affirmation from others, or seeking attention from boys. I would act completely desperate and stupid, crossing boundaries and then telling boys I didn’t like them, when deep down I just wanted to feed that desire to feel loved. It became a vicious cycle where I would lead boys on, cross physical boundaries, and then end up hurt or hurting them, ultimately losing friends. I became this dumb personality where I allowed myself to be the butt of a joke if that meant I could receive attention from my hallmates. I became someone I’m ashamed of.

That’s how I lost some of my best friends during my first few years of college. I let my self-seeking desires get in the way of my friendship with two of my closest friends at the time, Becky and Tiffany, who has also attended UCR from high school. I wasn’t investing as much time in my friendships with them as I should have, and over the course of the year, I’d become someone I didn’t even know. They ended up confronting me near the end of the year, basically telling me that I was fake. It was probably one of the most difficult conversations I’ve ever had, and one I will never forget. Over time, within the next year, I lost my group of childhood friends. Beth and I were essentially pushed out of my high school friend group. I felt a gnawing sense of sadness, guilt, bitterness, and loneliness.

For a while, I felt extremely hurt and despised social media for reminding me of how stupid I had been to have lost my best friends. I always had some sliver of hope that things would be okay again, but it never was. Eventually, I was able to not have to constantly think about it, but the wound was still there every time a new picture of their hangouts would pop up on Instagram, or when my friend, who I was still in contact, would mention them.

This past Sunday, I felt really convicted as to why God allowed me to go through all of that. Jonathan Yang spoke on John 15:1-11 where Jesus talks about the vine and the branches and how God prunes the branches in order to allow the branches to bear more fruit. In the same way, God allows us to go through difficult trials and trebulations as part of the sanctification process, in order that we may bear fruit.

I got home and reflected on the sermon, and suddenly started talking out loud to Beth. Looking back at it, it was definitely the work of the Holy Spirit when I thought of that particular trial I went through 3-4 years ago. I felt God telling me that pursuing my own desires and the things that the world says will satisfy will ultimately lead to destruction. No matter how much I try to seek happiness in people’s approval, or desiring attention from boys, these things will always disappoint me. And that’s because we are human – our emotions are constantly changing. They are unreliable. People can never truly satisfy the soul. People will hurt others at the expense of themselves. Conflict is always inevitable.

Only God can satisfy my soul. Apart from Christ, I am nothing. I was dead before Christ, and when God revealed His redeeming work to me, all His promises and His undying love for me, I became a new living creature. My eyes were opened so that I could see. I see that everything this world has to offer is nothing compared to the surpassing knowledge of knowing Christ. In Christ alone my hope is found.

Even though that was a really difficult trial that happened in my life, I now see God’s purpose in allowing me to endure that. He has really been growing me and allowed me to see His purpose and working hand in that situation, to which I am so thankful. God works in mysterious ways.

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