Year One: This is [Our] God

"...but the Lord supported me. He led me to a place of safety; He rescued me because He delights in me.....For this, O Lord, I will praise You among the nations; I will sing praises to Your name" (Psalm 18:19, 49).

^My sentiments as I heave a huge sigh of relief and wrap up the first year of my undergrad studies. Wow. Have I really completed one entire year of this insanity?

But I'm so grateful. And amazed.

I've watched God provide for my needs again and again, from the smallest to the greatest: a meal plan, financial assistance, a job, good grades, supportive friends - all these blessings and more. I've found reminders of His faithfulness at moment when I needed them the most. The sheer fact that I *get* to live this adventure in the presence and power of the Lord overjoys and humbles me all at once.

I'm not being churchy when I say that I am unworthy of the many blessings He has showered me with; this year has given me enough proof of my weaknesses and the areas in which the Refiner's fire needs to burn deeper and melt away the clinging flesh-attitudes.

I think it's ridiculously easy for people to share the incredible things the Lord has done in them and for them and conclude with an oh-so-spiritual, "Yeah, it's fantastic. I don't deserve it."

Inwardly, they're smugly pleased with themselves and the things they've accomplished. Oh, yes, their head may resound with thoughts of God's grace and favor dispensed in their lives, but they have yet to come to grips with their utter lack of worthiness. They've read their Bible, they've baked cookies for church, they have a blog where they write on spiritual themes...they've deserved some of God's blessings, certainly.

I know. I've done the same thing far too often, largely due to the fact that I haven't been confronted full-force with my weaknesses, with the reality that, apart from Christ, I really am undeserving.

But this semester - this year - I've watched my humanity seep through whatever veneer I prided myself on having gently smoothed over my faults and sin. Granted, I had learned much during high school, having grown spiritually and matured in my faith - but I hadn't reached some sort of perfection plateau. College transformed (and, to be honest) is still transforming my view of myself - and of God.

I've shrugged off the promptings of the Lord in favor of my pride and so-called "busy" schedule (time management issues on top of that, anyone?). I've let satan rule me with fear. My love for others has often been insincere, and my eyes have been so taken up with the glitter of the present that I, at times, haven't been able to see the glow of the future God has in store for me.

Long story short, ladies and gentlemen? I'm weak. Above all things, this past year has taught me the message of 1 Corinthians 10:12: "If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall." In His faithfulness, He forgives my sin, but His glory calls me to nevertheless pursue holiness (Romans 6:1-2). And I do. And I fail. And His grace is sufficient in my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9) as I cry out for His help to please Him and live a life obedient to His words.

Thus, I mean what I say when I declare that I am unworthy of what God has done for me. I can only pray that this message, this truth of my utter unworthiness and His supreme worthiness, will invade me like a lightning bolt invades the trunk of a tree and sets it on fire. I want to always and forever be amazed by the things He does for me, to keep gasping and staring and wondering and murmuring in awe that this is my God.

This is our God.

Another psalm (Psalm 103, specifically verses 1-5) comes to my mind as I meditate on the year gone by:

"Bless the Lord, O my soul;
And all that is within me, bless His holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget not all His benefits:
Who forgives all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases,
Who redeems your life from destruction,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
Who satisfies your mouth with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s."

And, honestly? That's all I can say. It's all I have to offer: an encouragement to you and to my own soul to bless the Lord, the One Who in and of Himself is the highest benefit, our Great Reward; the One Who has set our sins as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12); our Healer; our Redeemer, Who takes our brokenness and brings forth beauty; our Glory, our Joy, our Satisfier, our Strength.

Bless Him. Bless Him for Who He is and what He has done. Even when we are (as we are so very often) unworthy, He is utterly, eternally worthy.

I can't wait to see where He takes me next...

Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name!


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