By Ava Elliott
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. (Romans 15:13)
I have learned that each day in our lives holds moments in time to use the gifts we have been given, by grace, for his purpose. We need to be present, purposeful, patient and have perspective. My own walk is different than each of yours, as it is intended. We are each unique and created by him to serve his purpose.
My own individual journey with God has been centered in hope. From the time I was very young, I always knew there was something more than what I could see or fully understand. It kept me searching and led me to other countries, cities, states, homes, people and places. I felt it– sometimes hiding from the unknown, sometimes seeking it out, and other times truly afraid of what it might be. I spent the majority of my life surrounded by people in abundance, yet most of the time I felt like I was by myself and alone. The first half of my life centered in the fear of being alone, not accepted, not living up to others standards for me; not sharing my thoughts, questions or doubts and never stepping outside the boundaries that were set for me. I was most comfortable truly hiding within myself. No one ever really knew me beyond the outside appearance that I presented to them.
These things truly changed when I embraced my walk with the Lord and became fully present. The relief and honest hope I experienced have made me never feel alone. I still have to be careful, the door that leads me back inside of myself still has a lock than can be turned. I truly like my time away from people, but I know I am never truly alone. I talk to him almost daily. I work to embrace the new journey that his grace has put in front of me, walking forward and closer to him.
The idea of missional life at home captures each of our daily lives and needs to be pushed to the top. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32).
Our lives these days tend to be overly busy. Technology invades and simple conversation has lost its place in our lives. A tweet, chat or text message is misconstrued or twisted; an email is sent to the wrong parties; a telephone call does not make us stop what we are doing to hear what someone else needs; and the list goes on and on. It is truly important to stay in the moment, live in the present, pay attention to those around you and be approachable. I will say that I am not even close to mastering this– it depends on the day and the moment.
If you look at Jesus, he showed us you can live your life with love in the forefront.
Stop, truly listen, and acknowledge what is happening.
Engage, show grace, step away from judgments, and hear what others need from us.
Speak encouraging words, ask for guidance and pray.
It is the simple things that bring the greatest joy. Let our hearts be filled with all the things that filled him.
I always believed that most people just needed someone there for them, to see the good in them and that they could overcome whatever suffering presented itself. I always knew I was intended to be there for them, but I truly did not know what I was supposed to be doing. The piece, for part of my life, that was missing was the “overcome” portion. We are not intended to overcome any of it alone. We are to learn, grow, endure and continue through faith, acknowledging that sometimes our wrong choices have brought us to just the right place.
Through him we have also obtained access by faith, into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Romans 5:2-5)
We have each made it to the next day, even during our darkest suffering. We are still upright and in this world. Praise the LORD! I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation. Great are the works of the LORD, studied by all who delight in them. (Psalm 111: 1-2) We are meant to survive and grow closer to him.
For me, this opened the door to being purposeful. The places in the bible to support this are abundant. The Lord works in us and through us with our gifts that are unique. There have been so many times that I have made intentional plans and have thought through what would happen during a time spent with an individual or group. What I can say for the majority of those plans is that I was wrong. They almost never went as I predicted or planned. But what each of us gained or learned through those times opened new doors and new places in my heart for people. The times that truly stand out for me involved people that I barely knew and who did not know me. Some who I have never seen again. That beckons the knowledge that his work through me will present itself whether I am ready or not. We each have a message we are intended to receive and they will not be exactly the same. Our fellowship and community depends on each of us working together, sharing our hearts and differences, while allowing others in. Everyone who asks receives, everyone who seeks find, everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. (Luke 11:5-10).