Seeking God

Seeking God is not in vain if you seek: humbly, wholeheartedly and in faith that he will answer you.

What a joy it is to know God wants us to find him because he wants to be found. He wants a relationship with us. He is a forgiving and grace-giving God waiting for us to acknowledge, admit and adhere to his love. Our part is to realize we are in need of him; the start to seeking.

Personal Testimony

I grew up in a Christian, God-serving, church-going household and I am forever grateful for my upbringing as my parents guided me to faith. Growing up, I also grew very passionate about playing basketball with the goal to receive a scholarship to play in university. In 2007, I achieved that goal and accomplished a great rookie year. However, the academic side of school became a huge stress in my life and basketball became more of a job than a sport I loved. I started to question my own happiness and wondered where God was in all of this. I worked so hard, yet became so unhappy. Aren’t “Christians” happy people? I’d often ask myself. I realized I needed help beyond myself. I needed God.

Seeking begins with a realization we cannot save ourselves.

Summer of 2008, I cried out to God in desperation to find this “inner peace” and “joy” I heard so many times in church. Why hadn’t I found this to be true for me? I went straight to the source – God in prayer. Laying it all out, my fears, disappointments and feelings. Then, after much prayer, I decided to take a year off to learn about my identity as a Christ-follower instead of a basketball player.

Seek and you will find.

You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.

Jeremiah 29:13

I sought God in prayer, surrendering my scholarship or what else I knew to give me happiness in exchange to learn more about following him. So, I asked God for three things: the ability to keep training my basketball skills (to keep the option of playing again probable), to get a job and to travel. Within three weeks of this surrendering prayer, God answered me. I received a job as an assistance basketball coach, whilst on the side being trained by the head coach. As well as, working as a front desk clerk for GoodLife Fitness (which included a free membership). Then a friend invited me to join her to volunteer for a bible school called, “Youth with a Mission” (YWAM) in the Sunshine Coast of Australia. God gave me the three specific things I asked for in prayer (basketball training, a job and travel). To me that was confirmation that God heard my prayer. Now, it was my turn to learn about following him…

I took the year off to travel and seek God.

I took a year off of university and set off in January 2009 to travel with YWAM in Australia. During my time volunteering with the Bible school I got to sit in all the Bible lectures teaching me about how to have a personal relationship with Jesus.

One day I can remember the moment that all my seeking came to a halt because the presence of God met me. It was during a worship song and prayer time. I felt so discouraged that I made all this effort to serve God and I still didn’t feel he was near. I became mad and left the room towards a bathroom stall to pout. Then I prayed again, “God, why aren’t you answering me? Don’t you see all my effort I am doing to pursue you???” I will never forget the immediate answer I felt in my heart from the Lord that day. I heard within my Spirit God say, “Emily, you are here because I pursued you.

God is always in Pursuit of you.

Sunshine Coast, Australia, January 2009

God wants a relationship, a two-way-street. He wants us to respond to his pursuit of love for us. For me, I realized he wanted more than just faith, he wanted my participation or willingness to allow him to change me. The moment I realized he wanted my participation was the moment our relationship became real. He wasn’t forcing me to follow him, he was waiting for me to say “yes”.

You seeking him is a response to that initial pursuit of his.

Saying “yes” to God means repenting of our sins and adhering to his will. We learn about his will through reading the the Bible. Understanding God’s character makes his presence more known than simply waiting on a physical “feeling” to emerge.

The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God.

Psalm 14:2

I am more aware of the presence of God because of how much more I know about him. And one thing I know about him is that he calls us to seek him diligently (Proverbs 8:17) and continually (1 Chronicles 16:11). In all things and in any circumstance he is there and he is approachable because his love for us came before our love for him.

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:8

Seeking God will change your life as it did mine.

Germany, July 2009

Deciding to take that year off changed the course of my life and my faith for the better. As it lead to another month of travel and yet another bible school with YWAM in Montana, USA, called: Summer of Sports. Continuing my training on the court whilst training spiritually off the court.

After that year off, I was able to return to my university basketball scholarship and finish my degree. What a miracle that was! Praise God!

Why I share my story.

I share part of my life to encourage you that when you seek God with your whole heart, your seeking is not in vain. Every time I go back to God, whether its in a life-crisis or a day’s stresses, he answers me. He answers me in peace to not understand why some things happen and others don’t. In joy, knowing I am secure in my eternal fate or in friendships and community when I experience change and transition. The Christian life isn’t a perfect one but it is a content one, which was the most important thing I’ve learned in my year of seeking God. As I understood that my identity is not in my ability to play basketball or in my ability to make people like me, but it’s found in the acceptance of Jesus Christ.

Sydney, Australia, February 2009

Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment,

1 Timothy 6:6

What about you? Are you seeking God, willing to trust he’ll find you?

Are you seeking? Searching, pursuing, thinking, mediating, or striving after God in order to be found? As we seek God in faith, we trust that he answers us in the best way possible. Trusting God knows us better than we know ourselves, which includes the answers and outcomes of our prayers. We can be uncertain of how God will answer, but certain that he does answer. There is not an if he will answer but a HOW he will answer, which is the beauty of faith. When we trust in the character of God and rely on the previous testimonies of how he met us before (or others we know, or people in the Bible), we are more willing and continually able to seek him again and again.

Come to Jesus, in the current mess you are in, because your search after his presence is not in vain rather it’s a miracle in waiting.

The Blazed trail

And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.

Psalm 9:10

Perseverance

Perseverance Poem

Could time stop?
Just for a minute… or ten.
I just need to catch my thoughts which are running ahead.
I need to slow down, process some pain,
not sure when it’ll feel fine, like it did the other day.
I’m not sad about my future, I’m actually thankful.
It’s the current state of my mind that is painful.
If time stopped just for me, I could catch my breathe and work out the possibilities.
What to do, how to do it, and work through my responsibilities.
Alas! Time ticks forward not slowing down today.
I guess this is perseverance; working through difficulty without delay.

Emily Aspinall

Follow the Trail

As we walk the trail of following Jesus we will face mountains in our life. To stay on trail you must climb the mountains along the way. This requires perseverance – “persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success”. If you know hiking, you know the pain it takes to endure and you know of the reward that waits at the top. You eat your snacks, take in the view and give yourself a real satisfaction of “I did it”. Perseverance is agreeing to climb the mountain then actually climbing the mountain and finishing the climb to feel that satisfaction. It’s a process not a product. You can’t just buy perseverance and slap in on yourself – you have to endure the difficult terrain to get it.

Why I wrote the Poem

I wrote this poem because I wanted to avoid that climb. I wanted to be okay with stepping off the trail for a moment. Asking God, give me another way, please. But the funny thing about the trail is that it doesn’t give you many options. There is only one trail and it’s narrow (Matthew 7:14). Most of the time, along the trail, there are mountains to climb. The more we CHOOSE to climb them, the easier the climb will be.

Don’t Step Off the Trail – Persevere!

Anytime I choose to persevere God meets me in midst of my struggle. I witness the provision of God come through time and time again.

God is asking us to stay on the trail of following Him, how? With perseverance. We cannot have perseverance without testing our faith during difficult terrain that scares us. Perseverance means you don’t quit easily despite the mountain you face.

So, I am thankful I do not control time because it forces me to constantly make a decision. Will I climb this mountain or wait for a new one to appear? In my experience, waiting for a new one to appear is deciding to step off the trail of following Jesus. And for me, there is only one trail I am willing to take and that is following Him, the original trailblazer.

Overcome your Mountain with Jesus

Mountains (or hardships) are inevitable in life. It’s the choice that we make that determines if we find perseverance or not.

Stuck in fear? Distracted by the heights or are you willing to just take that first step? Perseverance is continually taking that step… one foot after the other until it becomes part of who you are. Don’t underestimate the power of Jesus who has given us His Spirit to endure all things.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

James 1:2-4 NIV

Come to Jesus with Your Baggage

Jesus Visits Martha & Mary’s House

Come to Jesus with your baggage, like Martha.

Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

Luke 10:38-42

Martha’s Baggage

Jesus loves you. Sometimes I don’t think we can fathom how much He really does. Jesus loves me even with all my baggage… even the over-weight-need-to-pay-the-extra-25-bucks-for-it-baggage… he wants it all.

In the Bible we learn that Jesus loved His friends Martha and Mary (John 11:5). In Luke 10, Martha’s anxiety was her baggage, stressing about the order of her house and annoyed at Mary who just sat there with Jesus. What struck me was how Martha goes directly to Jesus with her concern and trouble – not to Mary. She recognizes the authority in the room and goes straight to the source.

She went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.”

Luke 10:40

Confront Jesus with your Baggage

I just love how Martha is not scared to confront Jesus with her baggage of anxiety and stress. She is her authentic self as she approaches Jesus not withholding how she really feels. By Jesus simply responding to Martha says how he cares and loves her.

As believers in Christ, today, Jesus by His Holy Spirit is in our midst – in our hearts. Always in close proximity to us. We get this beautiful relationship wherever we are, in whatever situation we are in. Jesus is near. He wants us to approach Him for our own benefit to receive His comfort. Not be prone by our own worry and anxiety.

Let go of your baggage at the feet of Jesus. He will correct your ways and comfort you with His love. Just like He did for Martha.

Jesus will correct you and He will comfort you

Jesus corrected Martha and he comforted her with a solution to be closer to him. “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but on thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:41-42).

Jesus corrects and comforts us. No one can take those lessons or love away from you. Beautiful. Jesus loves you. He welcomes you as you are, with what you have, and in whatever stage/mess you are in.

Jesus loves YOU and wants you to draw near to Him.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

matthew 11:28

Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life

Follow the Trail

I have been a follower of Jesus since I was around 4 years old. I cannot remember the exact moment of giving my life to Christ and at the same time I also cannot remember ever doubting His existence. Sure, I’ve questioned His presence in my circumstances, current situations or struggles throughout my life. But never doubted His existence of being my Saviour and Creator – “being the way, the truth and the life”. There is something very faithful about God in that. He never left me believing He was “not there”. I always knew deep within my soul that he was there and alive with me. Jesus is the way, the truth and the Life. I believe this to be true.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

John 14:6

Commit to the Trail

Committing your heart to Jesus means to repent of your sins and opening your heart to receive Jesus as your Saviour – forgiver of your sins (past, present and future). As well as, receiving this certainty of His existence and presence. This never leaving presence that is always in pursuit of you and your heart. The more I turn myself upward to God the more He turns INWARD to me. To gain more of God’s presence you must first believe that Jesus is the only Way, the only Truth and the only Life for you. Rejoice that there is a trail and Jesus created it for you to walk on. So you can have a lifetime of faith in His presence.

Jesus is our way to God – allow Him to mediate in your heart so you can have daily communion with Him. Despite what you encounter, endure on the trail you can rest in knowing you are never alone. The ever powerful, all-knowing, full of love and the creator of the world: God, is always with you. For me, this has always been true and I walk more boldly, more confident and more in peace knowing He abides in me.

Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.

John 14:1

Man Forgets, God Remembers

As I was reading in Genesis the Lord brought to my attention how easy it is for us to forget. We are human and more likely to think about ourselves more than others. Man forgets, God remembers. He remembers our pain, affliction and cries. When you feel forgotten OR are the ONE who forgets – know that you are not alone. Seek God because He remembered and forgave you when you’ve forgotten Him. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). He remembered us even though we didn’t deserve to be remembered. He bore our sins by dying for them. Man forgets, God remembers. Seek him in all things – especially in loving others.

“Yet, the chief cup-bearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him.”

Genesis 40:23

Joseph Interprets Prisoners’ Dreams

Joseph loved the Lord and found favor with Him. So when Joseph was deceived and thrown into prison for a crime he did not commit, the Lord was with him and “gave him favor in sight of the keeper of the prison (Gen 40:21).” The cup-bearer was thrown into prison by the King and had a dream that Joseph interpreted from the Lord. After Joseph shared the cup-bearer’s dream meaning he said to him, “only remember me, when it is well with you, and please do me the kindness to mention me to Pharaoh, and so get me out of this house (Gen 40:14).”

Man Forgets Joseph

Then later we read in verse 23, after the cup-bearer’s dream came true and he was returned to his duties to the King that he, “did not remember Joseph, but forgot him”. Joseph remained in prison.

Oh How We Forget

Man will forget, hey – man will fail just as we fail and forget others too… Just the other day I was so emotionally distraught and thinking about just getting through the day that I forgot my daughter’s backpack to preschool. The MAIN THING you NEED to remember for preschool!!! I, of course, remembered to bring mine… just not hers. We are selfish. We care more about our own agenda than our family’s. We care more about how we feel than how others feels. Oh how we forget!!!

Pray

Lord, as I walk along this trail I remember YOU who blazed it for me. Not because you wanted to control me and my life, but simply because you loved me enough to save me from my own sin of selfishness and fleshly desires. I pray that you will teach me to remember others and to think of others more highly than myself. Just as you thought of me when you died for me.

Man forgets – God remembers. You are not forgotten.

But God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the livestock that were with him in the ark. And God made a wind blow over the earth, and the waters subsided.

Genesis 8:1

So it was that, when God destroyed the cities of the valley, God remembered Abraham and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow when he overthrew the cities in which Lot had lived.

Genesis 19:29

Then God remembered Rachel, and God listened to her and opened her womb.

Genesis 30:22

Victory in Vulnerability

Without vulnerability there is no victory.

Christ as Vulnerable

God volunteered His vulnerability through His Son, Jesus Christ, for us. Through vulnerability Christ endured pain on His way to the cross and while on the cross. Jesus’ mission on earth was entirely vulnerable as He exposed himself as fully man and as fully God. Proclaiming His identity as the Messiah and Saviour to all. Many times throughout the Gospels we read Jesus saying, “its not my time yet” or simply disappearing to escape from the crowd. He knew people would try to kill Him as soon as He exposed His identity as Messiah. I can’t imagine a more vulnerable position than that. Yet, we read on. When it was time for Christ to be crucified we read the most vulnerable words out of Jesus’ mouth, saying:

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Mathew 27:46

When I read that I thought, wow, God is really highlighting a vulnerable moment of weakness here, or so it seems. But, when I read ‘The ESV Bible Study’ foot notes, I got more clarity on the meaning. The foot notes describes His words like this: “Jesus expresses faith, calling God, “my God”. Surely he knows why he is dying, for this was the purpose of his coming to earth. And surely his cry, uttered with a loud voice, is expressing, not bewilderment as his plight, but witness to the bystanders, and through them to the world, that he was experiencing God-forsakenness not anything in himself but for the salvation of others.”

Salvation is the deliverance from sin and its consequences brought about by faith in Christ. Believing in Jesus Christ is our life’s greatest Victory because it saves us from our own deserving death. Christ became the ultimate sacrifice for our sin by dying on the cross. A vulnerable act from a victorious God.

Christ as Victory

We know that Jesus did die, but three days later rose again (Matthew 28:5-7). Then as Christ appears to the disciples, with still holes in his hands from where he was crucified, he commissions them. He said, “go therefore and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age (Matthew 28:16-20).”

The vulnerability to victory doesn’t stop at Jesus’ death and resurrection but begins again through us by His Spirit.

Pray


I pray we become a people vulnerable to share the Gospel wherever we are. Not scared by what others may think or intimidated by not “knowing enough”. But believing that God is always with us. For where there is vulnerability in Christ there is also Victory in Christ. Not my will be done, but yours, Oh God.
Amen.

The Ascension

“So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”  He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”  And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

Acts 1:1-11

The Embrace of Jesus

Open arms I am embraced by the King
Wrapped in a blanket – is the warmth I feel
Comforted and secured, I walk in peace
Vulnerable yet, I am put at ease
Completely safe and okay to be me
In His arms is the place where I am free
He died on the cross so all was not lost
Saved by the love of the one living God.

He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.”

Isaiah 40:11

Practice Makes Progress Not Perfection

Philippians 4:9, “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

Paul was talking about putting into practice what he has done which is sharing and living out the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

As Christians we can get so caught up in trying to be perfect that it distracts us from serving and sharing that Jesus is. We must study what He taught, who He is and how He lived so when we claim to live in Him it is in our actions that prove it (1 John 2:6).

Being partnered with Christ means we get to experience His perfection. These perfect moments are when you least expect them. For example, its during those tough times in our life that you want people to see an example of peace and contentment despite your circumstance. It’s in the consistency of your joyful spirit that catches the attention of your co-workers. It’s in these moments where the fruit of your spirit emulates Jesus (Galatians 5:22-23). Practice makes Jesus – who is perfection. We are not in control of the perfect moments. The only thing we can control is our practice in Christ.

1 Timothy 4:15, “Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress.”

Let’s not live for our own perfection but for our progress. Learning one day at a time who Christ is in us. With practice comes failure. Don’t expect perfection in yourself expect it in Christ through your practice.