I am currently going through a devotional called, “Spiritual Java” that has many excerpts from pastors at my the church I attend. One of the chapters challenged the reader to write out the benefits of God in their life. I began thinking about the benefits of God in my life, testimonies, experiences and thought, could I write out more then 30? I sure hope I can! So here I go, for every day of December, I am going to write one benefit of God in my life (yes it’s the 4th of December, so that means a few days will have two benefits). So here I go!
** As a disclaimer, these will not be in order of the best benefit to the least, all are equally amazing AND I am not an english major, so please excuse the grammatical errors 🙂 **
Benefit #1:: Relationships
To me the benefits of God also is a reminder of God’s goodness in my life. Now it’s easy to say, “God is Good, all the time God is Good”. This is a true statement. I do believe that God is good all the time, even when our minds and hearts do not fully understand in situations that don’t seem so great. This brings me to my first benefit of God in my life – relationships.
The past year and a half, God has been speaking to me alot about relationships/friendships and the importance that each person brings to relationship. How important it is to know others and be known by others and to not be afraid of relationships. To spend time in community and build relationships. God is a relational God. He wants us to build a relationship with him but he also desires for his kids to be family and build relationship with one another. Now most benefits of God in my life have a story/testimony to go with it. Here is my story. (I do apologize for the length, but I felt that I needed to write out the whole story)
In Fall of 2002, I was living in Canada going to Columbia Bible College. Little did I know that that school year I would make, what I would consider, a best friend. Kelli, was one of my roommates that year and the first whole semester we didn’t get along very well. Mmm, I can say, we had a lot of differences and had a lot of intense conversations that usually ended in a disagreement. For Christmas break I went back to California and she went home to Saskatchewan. During that break God really spoke to my heart and how I needed to love Kelli despite our differences. I know this seems like a “duh” kinda moment, but I wasn’t behaving that way. I was allowing, how she didn’t think like me, get in the way of loving her as a sister, a friend. We came back to school in January and I had a renewed love for her. We both began hanging out and not allowing our differences to get in the way of building a friendship. We both were agreeing to disagree, and that it was ok! About a month into the spring semester, we were chatting and laughing at how we used to not get along and how we never thought we would really be friends. I confessed that God had spoken to me over Christmas Break and she too confessed that God has spoken to her also over break about being friends. So from that point on our friendship just got deeper. After school was over I went back to California and Kelli went home to Saskatchewan, us never again to be roommates. It was a sad day. Kelli came to visit me in California one Spring Break. We made it a point to have a phone conversation at least 4 times a year, if not more. Always prayed for one another at the end of the conversation. We emailed lots, giving updates on life. We both invested in this friendship. One night she called me to tell me she was dating someone! I was soooo excited. She gave me details of their first date, as finding our husband was something we had been waiting for a long time for. 😉 . Hmmm, after many other phone conversation,it could have been a yearish later, I get another call that they are engaged! I told her no matter what I am coming to your wedding. I was so thankful that God worked it all out for me to go for about a week in August of 2008. I got to see one of my best friends get married to her best friend. Such a huge blessing!
I know all that seemed long to let know you that one of the benefits of God in my life are relationships, but there is more to the story which will bring it all together. In June of 2009, I get a phone call late one evening. It was the worst phone call I had ever gotten, my friend of 7 years had passed away suddenly. (Wow, that was harder to write then I thought..it took me about 5 minutes to write that sentence). I didn’t know what to do with myself. I didn’t sleep much, mostly cried. My parents were up visiting, that which I am very thankful for. I was a mess. Her husband called me to let me know when the funeral was. He seemed way more together then I was. I booked a flight that day and the next day I was in Saskatoon. Thankfully another one of my good friends lives in Saskatoon (we all were roomies together at CBC), and we were able to be there to support one another and the family.
Now during this time I told myself, God is Good, All the time God is Good. Which I said before, I do believe this to be true. I was saying over and over again God you are Good, you have a reason, I trust you, while saying this I wasn’t fully believing it at the time. I was saying it because it was imbedded in my brain since high school. I “believed” it so much that I didn’t allow myself to really grieve. It wasn’t until 5 months after she passed away that I finally started grieving. I found myself lonely, not hanging out with people, keeping to myself, not making new friends. God spoke to me one night, in my desperation of “what is wrong with me!!” crying out night. He said I had become afraid of relationships. I was only allowing people to get to know me so much because I was afraid of losing them and having to go through the pain of loss all over again. WOW. I was floored (literally). He said, “Sarah, you haven’t been real with me either. Remember, I can take what ever you are feeling, I love you.” So that night, I let all my anger out to Him about allowing my friend to pass away, letting us become great friends only to take her away. Then my grieving process began. I realized, that I had believing a bunch of lies for the past 5 months. It’s not that I needed to fear relationships because of what I could possibly lose but what I and they could gain. I began talking to God about all the benefits of Kelli and I’s friendship and what came from it, not what I lost. From Kelli’s friendship, I know how to look past differences and see the person for who they are. I learned to be intentional in your friendships, you have to make an effort to make them work. I learned a lot about pop culture and fashion. 😉 I learned that if we are patient and lean on God, He does answer. Kelli never gave up, despite some obstacles in her life, she kept living, loving and praising God.
I could write so much more on this topic but remember relationships are key. They are scary, because you don’t always know what life may bring. Relationships are hard but amazing all at the same time. We have to allow are selves to be vulnerable with each other if we want to live in community. Yes, we may get hurt but when you love people, you will often feel pain, we are human, but it’s the pain that sometimes will bring you back to love. God is a relational God, we are created to be like Him, to be in Him, to be in relationship with Him. We have to embrace love, even if it may hurt everyone once in a while. Loving hurts way less then not loving at all.
I value every relationship in my life…yep…all of you. 🙂
Here are a few fun good memories of my roomies forever, Kelli and Carey. 🙂