A lot can change in a day. I’ve always known it to be a fact, but the past year proved it in greater measure. And there have been 350 days between my last post here and today, so I have much catching up to do.
2022 saw me moving churches and cities, rekindling old relationships, making new friends, going on solo adventures, and exploring uncharted terrains about my beliefs and convictions. And while I would like to say that I had navigated everything with effortless grace, the fact of the matter is that I was out of my wits 99% of the time, and only His grace held me up.
It’s actually a bit difficult to narrow down my thoughts over everything that has passed, but I think I know exactly where to begin: with Him – my compass, my North Star, who never moved and never changed.
“How do you still have faith?”
A friend asked me this question last week, and I didn’t exactly know how to respond.
“I just do.”
Not the most helpful answer. Yet the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it wasn’t so much about my faith as it was about the God I had faith in.
God is the most trustworthy being in my life. He is constant, loving, kind, righteous, holy, and generous. He is everything good. In contrast, everything wrong is a by-product of sin, the enemy, and our broken humanity.
Because of that, even by sheer process of elimination, He remains the only one in the world worth putting absolute trust in.
How could I not have faith in Him?
Love, not legalism
However, I do realize that the more time passes, the more we become prone to doubts, complacency, and entitlement. The honeymoon phase gives way to the testing, and I think that’s okay.
After all, the Bible tells us that the fire will prove the genuineness of our faith (1 Peter 1:7). The Lord isn’t threatened by all our questions, struggles, and dilemmas.
It’s just that, ultimately, our fruit that will tell whether we have emerged triumphant or not.
This is likely why a few verses later, Peter goes on to say:
Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:13-16
The refinement should lead to holiness.
Sadly, a common pitfall is when Christians shift from absolutely loving Jesus to sin management. We go from “How does this honor God?” to “This technically isn’t sin, so it’s fine.”
Failing to realize that this is still compromise.
As a generation borne out of legalism, we decided to swing the pendulum hard in the other direction. But amidst all our good intentions, the result is that many of us ended up turning away from holiness.
I’ve seen this in my own life. It wasn’t that I was making sinful decisions per se; I just allowed myself decisions that fed into the flesh. Yet the more I did this, the more numb I became. I was no longer grieved by what used to grieve me. I was no longer convicted by what used to convict me.
But the thing is, God’s standard never changed; mine did.
Holy comes from the Hebrew kodesh, which means to be set apart. Does our lifestyle reveal that we have been set apart?
Upon realizing this, I course-corrected. And with each small step I took back towards God, the more sensitive I became to Him again.
Now, I’m no longer driven by the desire to “not be perceived as legalistic.” Because, as it turns out, the enemy can turn that around to harm us too.
To absolve all complications, I have narrowed down my sole intention to this: pleasing Him.
Before, I would say no to certain things because of religiosity. Now, I say no to them because I love Jesus.
There’s a difference, and understanding that difference made it easy for me to choose.
Decisions and discernment
The past twelve months have seen me through several big transitions, and in many ways, I’m still finding my footing. Yet one thing that served as my rudder is that which the Lord has spent several years developing in me: discernment.
In present-day Christianity, discernment is frequently used to justify thinly-veiled judgment.
“I discern that _________ is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.”
“My discernment tells me that ___________ is *insert negative adjective here*”
“I sense that something is wrong about him/her.”
This isn’t to say that any of the aforementioned lines are intentionally mean-spirited in themselves, because I also receive revelations this way. The Scripture does tell us to be careful so that we are not led astray by false prophets and teachings.
Still, several years ago, I got called out in a prophecy for “automatically disliking people I see because of my discernment.”
Ouch. It hurts because it’s true.
What I failed to realize then was that inasmuch as discernment functions to guard me against what is evil, it is also meant to help me choose what is good.
Discernment comes from the Latin discernere, which means to separate, set apart, perceive. Accordingly, it is the ability to distinguish between that which is good and bad, and that which is better and best.
Isn’t it interesting that holy means being set apart, and discernment means setting apart?
In God’s amazing design, they’re intertwined. Holiness leads to discernment.
Hence, Romans 12:2 tells us, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that by testing you may discern what the will of God is, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
This means it’s not just about the things we say no to. It’s also about the things we say yes to.
The movies we watch, the songs we listen to, the people we hang out with, the habits we keep, the thoughts we ruminate over. What are we saying yes to? What are we choosing? More importantly, who are we choosing?
Daily, I ask for the grace to choose Jesus.
Walking on water
“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Matthew 14:22-23
I’ve been meditating on the Beatitudes again lately, and following the natural progression of Matthew, I eventually came across the story of Peter walking on water. The narrative is as familiar to me as the back of my hand, yet for some reason, I can’t move past these two verses this time around.
Eventually, I realized it was because I tended to talk to God like Peter did here.
“Lord, if it’s you, then make it clear to me by *doing this*”
This has always been my dynamic with Him, and without fail, He has made His will clear to me in the process.
It just so happens that I’ve done this more and more over the past year. It’s also probably why more and more, I find myself walking into deeper waters.
But I guess if there’s anything to learn from Peter, it’s that we lose faith the moment we take our eyes off Jesus. That would be a lose-lose for us because:
1. We’ll end up drowning.
2. Jesus is the most beautiful person we could gaze upon.
Why would we even want to look away?
We can feel the harsh winds around us as we navigate the waves beneath us, but even then, the only logical way forward is towards Him.
If there’s anything I learned in greater measure this past year, it’s that He makes sense.
I have asked questions and wrestled, I have wondered and negotiated. And though I haven’t received the answers I wanted, every discussion I’ve had with Him led to this conclusion.
Amidst everything else going on in this world, He still makes the most sense.
Our surroundings may be marred with pain, evil, and brokenness, but that can never outdo the reality of Christ, what He has done for us, and what He will continue to do.
It’s God’s redemption story, and we’re all just living in it.
I’m looking forward to coming back here with more paragraphs about that. ❤️