At the beginning of each year, I choose a word that encompasses all of the things I want to work on for that twelve month period. A couple years ago, the word that I chose was rooted. I had completed college and was planning on putting down roots in Columbia with Kevin, my then soon to be husband, and I thought it would be the perfect reminder that this was where God wanted me to be. As I expected, I did grow in that area and it really did serve in the way I had hoped but God also taught me more about a different aspect of my faith that I had never intended to focus on and that was my spiritual journey.
A verse I meditated on daily during that year was Colossians 2:7, “And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into Him, and let your lives be built on Him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” It wasn’t until a year later when we purchased our first home in Columbia that I really understood the implications of what this verse means. As I stood under our 60+ year old tree, I realized the power and the strength and the depth below my feet that this tree is rooted and couldn’t help but pray that my faith look the same.
But it’s not as though this tree had gotten this way on its own.
First, a seed must be sown in fertile soil. Whether it was cast out intentionally or by the wind, I can tell you with one hundred percent certainty that God had a plan through it. For me personally, that looked like a lot of PSR (also commonly called Sunday School) classes that met on Monday nights and Sunday morning masses. Even though I hated them at the time, I am so thankful that my parents thought they were important because through these, God was able to set a foundation of faith in my heart.
Next, the seed was watered. Someone else came along and shared the gospel. There were three particular people in my life who made a huge impact in my faith and encouraged me to ask questions. Opening a bible I was given, helped me form my own truths about who God is and the purpose for which he created me. 1 Corinthians 3:6-9 says, “I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow. The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work. For we are both God’s workers. And you are God’s field. You are God’s building.”
As God continued to pursue my heart, I was nurtured. In the same way that God uses the sun as the determining factor for growth of the tree, His son, the light of the world, does the same thing for us. He came to earth to save us and to ensure eternal life for us by dying on the cross for our sins. Because of this, we grow and mess up but we are continually forgiven by God’s unrelenting mercy.
The seed begins to sprout. I like to think of this as the beginning of college. I had so many opportunities to have things just completely uproot me or shake me; God continued to place people in my path that helped me mature. I think this is why I just love studying the book of Acts which was the first written history of the Christian church: In community, which God has provided, we learn to see Christ in others and we get the chance to see the world the way that God intended for it to be. We build each other up, challenge each other, and basically just do life together.
As we grow and develop we learn that without Jesus, we can do nothing. The tree becomes larger and more established, therefore bearing fruit. Jesus said in John 15:5-8, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.” This fruit determines whether or not the tree is good or bad. “A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions” (Matthew 7:17-19).
God intends for us to continually be making disciples, therefore the fruit of a believer should be a new believer. We do this by being watering new seeds – inviting friends to dinner, walking through life with someone who has questions about Jesus and by being an example of love. Proverbs 11:30 says it well, “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who is wise win souls”. I believe that Jesus’ purpose for sharing the parable of the mustard seed in Matthew 13:31-32 was to represent kingdom growth in this way. In the Old Testament, a tree represented a mighty kingdom which sheltered the nations so this tiny mustard seed, growing into a tree symbolized Jesus’ offer of refuge and life in God’s Kingdom.
Even though we start out as a tiny seed, our mighty God is in pursuit of our hearts and encourages our growth, particularly through those around us. We need to remember that apart from Him, we can do nothing but with Him we can exemplify his love and grace in order to produce good fruit and advance the kingdom for His glory.
I started writing this post last year. It was a time in my life where I had graduated college, didn’t have a job and had plenty of bills to pay. It was a hard time in my life, but I think it’s a time that A LOT of people go through – whether it’s right after college or after many years of being in the workforce. And either way, it’s not easy. BUT be encouraged, friends. It gets better. I finished it up today with where I currently am. Here’s my story.
I’ve started writing this post so many times. But it’s hard and normally I don’t do that kind of stuff. I brush it off and wait for it to pass but that is not how God is glorified. He is glorified in our hardest moments, the nitty gritty ones where we have to surrender to Him, completely. The ones where we wrongly question His sovereignty and His plan even though He continually prevails time and time again. I have been doing a Bible study with She Reads Truth and last night I read:
Have you ever asked for prayer simply because you could not pray on your own? Have you ever uttered “pray for me” and meant “pray instead of me, because I just can’t do it”?
If prayer is a picture of believers lifting one another before the Lord, then there are times I have been full-on carried. Not just walked beside or agreed with, but picked up from the pit and held high before the Lord, my spiritual self limp and lifeless, in need of the life-breath from my Savior. It’s a metaphor that sounds melodramatic until you’re in the thick of it, too spent to sigh another “please” or “amen”.
And maybe not having a full-time job wasn’t that bad, but the questions, assumptions and rejection letters built up. I had applied for over 40 jobs since I started looking and of those, I had only heard back from five (well, unless we are counting rejections too…but let’s not go there). I had whispered the words, “pray for this one” as I began applications and phone interviews.
Two years ago, I was prompted by God to change my major and I know that in following His plan for my life, He will be glorified. But still I waited. I began to wonder where God was and why I had even listened to him anyway. Maybe I should have just stuck with math and hopefully had a better outcome. Maybe I had heard Him wrong after all! A lot of self-doubt crept in.
When I finally got my interview a few months later, it felt like my only chance. And of course, I jumped at it. At first, I loved it but slowly I started to fall into the every day pace and the retail-type hours were really getting me down. I worked later in the day and didn’t have two consecutive days off. I realize that this is reality for a LOT of people, but it it bothered me enough to do something about it. So I did. I had a few friends who told me about how much they loved their jobs and that I should get on there. I was very interested and asked one friend forward my resume to the HR department. A few weeks later, I heard back that they wanted to have a casual conversation about the positions that they were hiring for. The week before our wedding, I was offered the job.
As soon as we got back from the honeymoon, I had my first day. We did all kinds of fun orientation type stuff and I just knew from the beginning that this is where I’m supposed to be. For the next few weeks, I spent all of my time in and out of the office studying for the big SAFE test so that I could become a Mortgage Loan Originator. I felt really great about it and had never studied harder for an exam.
It was during these weeks that I wrote the Be Still post. I wanted to remind myself that “The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still“. I knew that if it was God’s will for me to pass, I would. If not, I wouldn’t.
At the test, they wave a metal detector around you and it’s all pretty intense. But I went through the test question by question with a growing fear that I don’t know enough questions to get a passing score. I prayed. As I submitted it, I held my breath. A big fat “FAIL” showed up.
REALLY!? HOW COULD THIS HAPPEN?
On the drive back home, all of the self doubt came flooding back. What would I do now? What if I lost my job? I thought this is where I was supposed to be. And mainly, how could I have studied for over 125 hours and still fail? I prayed. And I waited.
I got a call the next morning, they asked if I would be interested in another job in the company that did not require this license. YES YES YES. Of course. Like I said, even up to this point I completely thought that this was where I was supposed to be. And that’s when I realized. Maybe I wasn’t meant to be a loan originator at all. I ended up having an interview that very same day and was given the job on the spot.
I started Monday.
Maybe it’s humiliating and scary to post this for the entire world to see, but maybe it will encourage someone. Or maybe sometime in the future, I’ll need to come back to this again. To come back and remember that God is sovereign and His plan is good.
So, future me (and everyone else reading this), know that no matter what you are waiting for, expect it to be downright hard. It’s hard not to complain, to doubt and to worry but I’m learning that those things are harmful to yourself and to your testimony. You can’t be serving God fully if you are caught up on waiting around for the perfect job, the next phone call or an email reply. Instead, you need to pray hard and listen closely – God’s plan is always good.
I realized at the beginning of college that God had been preparing me for Himself all my life. Little seeds that were slowly but surely being watered and nurtured. Daily He began teaching me who he is and it left me seeking more. In the fall of 2011, I proclaimed myself as a follower of Christ through baptism. It was a take-my-breath-away moment (literally, the water was freezing!) and I began to realize what following Him means.
It means that His grace and mercy are significantly more abundant than my failures. God’s forgiveness doesn’t expire, all I need to do is repent and trust Him. (Ephesians 2:4-9, Acts 3:19, Acts 16:31)
It means that God created me and in His eyes I am absolutely perfect. And nothing can change that. (Psalm 139: 13-16)
It means that He knows me better than I know myself and He has my future figured out, so I don’t have to worry about it. (Matthew 6:25-34, Jeremiah 29:11)
It means that I will find eternal life with God because He sent His son to die on the cross for my sins. (John 3:16, 1 Timothy 1:15)
It means that following Him, serving others, and forgiving won’t be easy but it will bring Him glory, and that is why I am here. (Isaiah 43:6-7, 1 Chronicles 16:23-24, Habakuk 2:14)
It means that He is always with me and apart from Him I can do nothing. (Deuteronomy 31:8, John 15:5)
I am continually in awe of my wonderful Creator. For the hope He gives and the amazing grace that I do not deserve. I am thankful that He always draws me near when life gets tough and that He takes care of my every need.
Hi, I'm Jacqueline - believer, learner, and all around hobby enthusiast. I'm married to my highschool sweetheart, Kevin, and we live in the midwest with our sweet pup.
On this blog I share all kinds of things about my life - from my faith journey to the garden in my neighbors backyard. I've been blogging for almost eight years and use this space as a way to document my daily life.
Thanks for stopping by my little corner of the internet.