GROVE CITY —
I love when I wake up in the morning and God is saturating my heart! He’s right there, not even really deliberately, just naturally.
What a difference one day can make, too. Yesterday, I awoke feeling nauseated, dizzy. I have vertigo and it occasionally acts up before I even get out of bed. Before I even started the day--a day that turned out to be a real challenge--I felt defeated. My thoughts, my actions ... all were contrary to my spiritual self. I was tired and grumpy, and didn’t feel well at all for most of my day. The next morning, however, he was already there, waiting. He knows me and my vulnerabilities.
I reached over on my nightstand and grabbed my notebook first thing--a little one my friend, Carolyn, gave me to take notes in church--and opened it up to the first entry for the new year. It was written on Jan. 17, 2010. A smiley face at the top. I like to put those there because when I walk into that church on Sundays, peace flows over me. Sometimes it’s the first real peace I’ve experienced all week long. I love it there, in God’s house. I put the smileys there so I know when I look backward, there is a reminder of the happiness in my heart just for being there in his house.
Underneath the smiley face, a note, usually on a particular song we’ve heard that morning that moves me. Today, it was “Overwhelming (The More I Seek You).” I listened to it again as I wrote, and remembered why I wrote it down. The lyrics say, “The more I seek you, the more I find you. The more I find you, the more I love you. I want to sit at your feet, drink from the cup in your hand, lay back against you and breathe, feel your heartbeat. This love is so deep, it’s more than I can stand. I melt in your peace, it’s overwhelming.”
Listening to this song again, it’s obvious to me it’s a love song, but not between a man and woman. It’s a love song between us and Jesus. Maybe that seems extreme to someone who doesn’t believe in Jesus Christ as the Savior, but for me, it’s so personal, so intimate ... I can’t express fully how grateful I am to have him in my life, especially after a day like yesterday.
When my head hit the pillow last night, I knew I was a letdown, and not just to myself. I could feel it in my soul, the letdown I was to the Lord. I was sorrowful, yes, but how sorrowful can one be to the creator? I can’t hide anything from him. He already knows every single weakness in me. And yet, sometime between the time I closed my eyes and drifted off into sleep and as I was writing, he slipped into my unconsciousness and left me a gift of grace. He forgave me my yesterday; he has forgiven so many of my yesterdays--and this morning I have a whole new chance to begin again. His mercies are new every morning.
On Jan. 12, there is a question: “What is God teaching you?” Then the words below are, “Read through the Bible, Lisa! What do you do daily to declare your love for God?” As I reread those words, I realized immediately not what I do each day to declare my love for him, but what I don’t do. I became painfully aware of how I didn’t take each and every opportunity to radiate my love for God, and as I lay there in my bed reading my scribbled thoughts on that day’s sermon, I asked myself how I could fill up my day, my life, with things that are so much less important than my relationship with the father who gave me my life in the first place.
What do I do daily to declare my love for God? How do I live my life so that anyone who meets me would know immediately that I’m a Christian, I’m a child of the Most High King, I’m a sinner saved by grace?
What is God teaching me? What is he teaching you? He is teaching me that no matter what is going on in my life--my struggles, my losses, my hurts--he is always there for me. Always.
The past few years or so have been the most difficult of my 40-plus, but he’s held me up through it all. He’s shown me that grace is possible, even through the seemingly impossible. He’s given me immeasurable love, in him and in the people I’m blessed to have in my life. He’s granted me forgiveness, when I really don’t deserve it. He’s taken a bitter heart and shown me that I can love even the unlovable, and shown me love when I am, myself, unlovable.
God is teaching me, through what I’ve lost, how much less I really need; and that I can fill the gap of what is no longer there with him. He’s shown me that even though I’ve lost some people here on earth that I loved so dearly, that love--real love--doesn’t die when the bodies of those people give them up to eternity. He’s shown me that he is the author of love, of faith and of hope.
As I flipped through the notebook, I read page after page of notes I’ve taken each Sunday in church. Many of the entries begin with a song, and as I looked over each week, there were many notations of Scriptures that I planned to reread over again. I wrote the word “reread!” beside them, or “WOW!” as an exclamation of how it moved me that day. Some are circled, and some are boldly underlined. The notebook is full of pages and pages of thoughts and remarks and things I wanted to remember from what I’d learned that day and the many Sundays of 2010. I wanted those things to stay with me over time.
As I closed the book, I asked myself, “What will I learn from the Lord in the next year? What will that year bring?” Only God knows.
Will I take more time out of my day to spend in the word with him, as I’d planned, or will I continue to allow myself to be distracted by my daily life? Will I take more opportunity to live my faith, walking by it and allowing it to shine through me and how I live my life? Am I willing to make the changes I need to make in order to more completely be the woman that God would have me be, or will my human nature overcome?
Many times when I pray, I ask God to recreate me the way he wants me to be. I ask him to take my heart and make it his. I know enough in my short walk to know that on my own, I’m weak. I don’t want to go it alone. I want this relationship with Jesus. I want to know him and I love him. Someday, I know I’ll meet him and finally--face to face--I’ll look into my father’s eyes, and thank him for loving me, too.
God bless and have a great week.
Lisa K. Alessio is a lifelong writer and resident of Grove City. She writes on life, faith and family for Allied News. Reach her at alongthe firstname.lastname@example.org.