Tuesday, September 17, 2013

"I have hidden your word in my heart..."

There is something I've come to realize in the last year or so. There is an unexplainable power in the memorization of Scripture.

My whole life, I've grown up memorizing verses or passages of Scripture. But until recently, it was something I did, just because. Because I was a Christian and that's what you were supposed to do. So I would half-heartedly memorize verses and things for church, school, etc. My sisters, mom, and I even memorized the book of James together when I was in middle school. But I am ashamed to say, I don't really remember a whole lot of it.

But then something changed. It was the first show week of Jane Eyre (yes, HPA again ;). There were about 5 of us together, waiting to run a scene with the directors. And two friends got into a conversation about memorizing lines. About how, for a show, we can memorize crazy long amounts of dialogue or monologues. But when it comes to the Bible, we often don't. Long story short, one of them ended up challenging the other to memorize an entire chapter of the Bible before the show closed the next weekend. The challenge was accepted, and I decided to do it as well. I threw myself into it, if for no other reason than to prove that I could memorize a chapter of the Bible in a week. We both did. She had it memorized within 2 days; I had it memorized in a little over a week. But it was crazy how much time and energy I put into it. When I woke up, as I was getting ready for the day, waiting for my ride, during my breaks, as I was falling asleep at night, I would read it, say it from memory, over, and over, and over... I guess that's what God means when He says to meditate on His words. Think of them over and over and over again.

And so a little more than a week later, I had all of 1 Corinthians 13 totally memorized. In KJV, which I had never heard before. But that was the translation my friend was memorizing it in, so I did too. It was really neat to hear it another way, you know? Sometimes when we hear something over and over it can lose it's beauty. Memorizing it in another translation really re-awakened that beauty for me.

But you want to know the best part of it? Or hardest part, depending on how you look at it? God used it to convict me so, SO much over those two weeks. You can't be thinking selfish thoughts, looking out for only yourself, or be impatient when you are saying to yourself over and over,

"Love suffers long and is kind. Love does not envy. Love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek it's own; is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."

Ouch. Like, a million times ouch. I was astonished at how often my thoughts center around ME and what I want. It really opened my eyes to my selfishness. So, with God's help, I tried to start loving people - with real love. 1 Corinthians 13 love.

About a month after show, I dove into John 15. Then Psalm 63. And although I'm ashamed to say that I neglected my Scripture memory over the summer, I'm back at it again, this time with Ephesians 1.

But even beyond how the Words you memorize speak to you, there's something else I've found with Scripture memory: it brings you closer to God. His words are powerful. Oh, so powerful. And when you spend time in them, all the time, and continually meditate on them, you are spending time with HIM. And you grow closer to Him, too. And that's what we all long for, right?

We talk about knowing things not only in our head but also in our heart, about really understanding. This is what God has been showing me: the incredible power of Scripture memory.

Will you join me in hiding His Word in your heart?

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Yearning

I'm sorry it's been so long since I've posted on here, dear friends. This summer has been a whirlwind, and it flew by so quickly! I graduated high school, nannied full time, traveled to Ukraine on a mission trip again, vacationed in Grand Traverse Bay with my family, had a wonderful reunion with some dear long-time friends, camped with our small group, and visited Dad's side of the family in New Jersey (and swam in the ocean)!! Anyhow, maybe I'll post more about those things at a later time, especially about all that happened in Ukraine... but for now, there's more I need to share with you.

Namely, the exciting news of my plans this fall!! Actually, let me back up a bit. Ever since I was a little girl, I have loved missions. I think it started, or at least grew a lot, the year we studied different countries and cultures of the world when I was in 5th grade (thanks ECC and MFW!!). I loved hearing about missionaries, seeing their pictures, and reading, no, DEVOURING countless missionary biographies. I was fascinated. As I grew older, this desire only grew with me. In fact, desire is almost to shallow of a word to describe what I'm now feeling! It's more like a deep longing, a yearning... A yearning to share the name of Jesus with those who have never heard. A yearning to love on those who have never experienced real, unconditional love. A yearning to pour myself out to the utmost for Him who poured Himself out for me. A yearning to live a life totally dependent on Him; trusting Him for absolutely everything. And a yearning to live and serve in culture totally different from my own.

In the last few years I have come to realize that this deep longing in my heart is the Lord calling me into international missions. This was confirmed when I went to Ukraine for the first time last summer, and even more so when I returned this summer. The sheer joy and fulfillment I felt upon entirely pouring myself out for the Lord and for the kids was unfathomable. It was hard, but I loved every minute of it. It's so... oh, there's no words for this! It's so beautiful, incredible, and awesome to do what you know you were made to do. The fulfillment, the joy it brings is just beyond words.

I praise God that He has found me, saved me, chosen me, and called me to serve Him in this way! Thus, I have decided not to attend college at this time. I don't know if God has college planned for me in the future or not, but I do know that's not where He's leading me right now. Instead, He's led me to participate in a Discipleship Training School (DTS) with Youth With A Mission (YWAM). So basically, at the end of September, I'll travel to Denver, CO. I'll spend 3 months there, on top of a mountain, with about 50 other students and about that many staff. Primarily, I'll just spend time getting to know God more and learning about Him - in head knowledge, but also in heart knowledge. Then, for 2 months after that, I get to go on an outreach trip! Aka, a 2 month international mission trip. :) I have to decide between a trip to Thailand, Kenya/Uganda, or Mexico/Belize. At this point, I have NO IDEA where I'm going to go, but I'm confident that God will show me where He wants me.

I cannot tell you all how absolutely EXCITED I am for this!! Time and time again, God has confirmed that this is where He wants me right now. It has been such an incredible, faith-building journey already to see him speak to me, lead me, guide me, and provide for me - more than I ever could have imagined!

I can't stop thinking about this verse. It is the echo of my heart right now. "Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty work within us, to do exceedingly more than we could ask or imagine." {Ephesians 3:20} Glory to God!

Rejoicing in Jesus,
Elizabeth