Monday, January 3, 2011

A Fish Named Grace

I mentioned briefly in my last post that a couple of my siblings and friends and I went to a conference in Atlanta, Georgia from December 27st to the 31st. It was truly amazing! I first went to one of Impact's National conferences by myself in 2008, and it was INCREDIBLE. To be able to share it with friends and family this time was truly awesome.

Believers worshiping the Lord at the Impact 2010 conference.
Photo courtesy of the Impact Movement.
The mission of the Impact Movement is to reach the college campus, community, and world by producing leaders of African descent who are spiritually focused, financially responsible, and morally fit. At first, I struggled with being part of a group whose focus was on one main ethnic group, so I really sought the Lord regarding my involvement. As I saw the moral devastation of the black community, the doctrinal errancies being perpetuated in many of our churches, as well as the desperate need for leaders in my age range who are bold about our Lord, there was no way I could pass up the opportunity to get plugged into this group! This is the same group I went to South Africa with in 2010, by the way. I have grown leaps and bounds in my walk with the Lord since I first became involved with Impact my freshman year of college in 2007, and I am still involved with Impact on my campus now, even though I haven't been in school!
Priscilla Shirer
Photo courtesy of the Impact Movement

So yeah, there's my short little blurb about Impact, and they have conferences every other year (except this time they're having one at the end of the year, woohoo!). At this particular conference, a woman (no, she's not a pastor or anything like that, f.y.i. lol) named Priscilla Shirer spoke about the story of Jonah. Often when we think of the big fish that, swallowed? Jonah, we think of it as a punishment. However, as Priscilla explained, this fish was actually evidence of God's grace toward him! Here's the background: You've got this guy Jonah, who is commanded by God to go to Ninevah. The guy balks, and begins to high tail it to the furthest island known to man at the time. While on the boat, God sends this crazy big storm, and Jonah agrees to have the crew throw him overboard. Now this could easily be where Jonah's story ends. He wouldn't be playing man overboard if he had simply obeyed God, right? Seems like death by drowning would have been the natural consequence.

But then this fish come around and swallows Jonah whole. GULP, just like that. (At least I'm assuming, cuz I'm assuming if chomping were involved, Jonah would've been pretty injured!) And after a good little bit in the fish's belly, Jonah was coughed up/vomited/deposited (take your pick!) on dry land. Now this is amazing to me, just how God can show His grace in any NUMBER of ways, including a FISH! But to be honest, I haven't yet even told you the part that really gets me about this story! So let's rewind just a little to the beginning of the story...

**insert VCR rewinding noise here**

God gave Jonah orders, right? He commanded Jonah to go to Ninevah, and Jonah disobeyed. Let's fast-forward again... After the fish deposited Jonah on dry land, God's word, His command had not changed. He still wanted Jonah to go to Ninevah!
Photo courtesy of Google images

Now at this point, you either get where I'm going, or you're scratching your head and really want me to get to the point. But hang with me guys! So many times in our lives, especially around this time with it being the beginning of a new year and all, we set so many goals. We want to change this about our lives, lose weight, read our Bible more, pray more, evangelize more, figure out what God's will is for us. That's not necessarily bad, but what many (including myself, until recently) of us don't realize, is that we can be so busy trying to figure out our future and determine what new thing God wants to do in our lives when we never really allowed Him to accomplish the work in us that He was trying to do last year! Like Jonah, we run away, experience grace, but are still faced with the choice to obey the exact same command God gave us before we ran away.

So here's the ultimate question, guys. What's your year going to look like? Here's what mine is going to be like, starting from this point forward. I am fully engaging in each season of life, not rushing into the next. I am going to walk with the Lord daily, concerning myself with obeying the Spirit moment by moment. I'm going to obey the things the Lord told me to do last year that I simply refrained from doing out of fear or uncertainty or some other un-legitimate reason to disobey.

I've gotta tell you guys, I definitely have a fire right now, a huge passion to be used by the Lord in a greater capacity than ever before. Even today some situations have risen that I know God has a hand in! Remember Vibia Perpetua in my very first post? Well I definitely believe living life in this way is honoring to the Lord and is a life perpetua: abiding, lasting, and fulfilling!  I will definitely keep you posted on all that transpires throughout this time!

Are there any things in your life that God, through His Word and/or Holy Spirit has prompted you to do that you put off or ran away from completely? If so, what are those things and are you seeking to change that in 2011?

Looking forward to hearing from you guys!

1 comment:

  1. Wow. Mad convicting and encouraging. There are places I know for a fact He wants to take me, but the it's the moment-by-moment faithfulness/obedience that builds character and more importantly strengthens a LIFESTYLE of obedience & intimacy with Him. Props for the blog post!