Looking to the Future

Photo Credit for Featured Image: https://alisonzai.tumblr.com/

“Looking to the Future.” Aren’t I always?

As of today, I have officially submitted applications for three wildly different gap-year-type formative experiences to begin after my graduation this upcoming summer (more information to come). The next post-graduation move in my future has been looming as a big exciting question mark for at least the last several years, as my graduation date has shifted back and forth due to some unexpected life changes.

The most recent life change, known as COVID-19 (some of you may have heard of it), has pushed my graduation date a few months earlier than expected and I will be (FINALLY!) graduating from Florida International University in August of 2020.

I have always loved the delicious month of September. Home of that sweet spot in the Fall semester before class work sets in, September almost feels like a vacation: regardless of what my life has looked like in September each year, that month always seems to hold the nicest people, the quietest moments of relaxation, and the smoothest transitions into Miami winter and fall. Oh, how the anticipation builds for those chilly winter temperatures of 50 and 60! Brrr!

What exciting opportunity do you hold for me this September in 2020, God? Life is short and life is crazy and a lot can happen in 6 months.

To you, reader, please pray for me as I consider where God may be calling me this fall. He may be calling me to stay right where I am. He may be calling me to go! Either way, I’m excited for what the future will bring. Please also pray for me as I apply for scholarships that will financially support me in these last few months as I crawl to the finish line of my academics. I’m so close!

This virus is affecting everyone differently. How is it affecting you? Leave a prayer request in the comments (or text me privately) and I would love to pray for you.

God is in control!

Casting a Vision

“…who, for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame…”

a portion of Hebrews 12:2

What are you willing to endure? As an Enneagram type 7, I can relate to doing something “for the joy that was set before.” As an “Enthusiast”, my motivation often (if not always) arises from the question of the future. That duplicitous question of “what will happen next?” has always been the fire beneath my greatest passions and the culprit of my deepest anxieties. When acting on instinct alone, I will always choose the path of easy, satisfying, and FUN.

The first time I ever read the first two verses that introduce Hebrews 12, they screamed to me in earth-shattering tones that I was living my life wrong. They told me that my simple, black-and-white, Anna-pleasing world was built on a bed of lies. I wasn’t free or happy — I was enslaved in sin!

A true life of freedom was up for grabs, if only I was willing to lay everything down.

As I looked back at my life and mentally began to remove each little pleasure that I was currently occupied with, I saw my life begin to unravel. Up until that point, my only real pursuit in life had been fleeting moments of gratification: a smile of approval from a loved one, a delicious cupcake, a snarky one-liner from a fictional character that I identified with. I had spent years trying to escape into fictional worlds, falling in love with its characters and dreaming of an adventure-filled life. I found my passion in making myself and others happy. When the present left something to be desired, I could easily seduce myself with dreams of the future.

“It will come sometime. Some beautiful morning she will just wake up and find it is Tomorrow. Not Today but Tomorrow. And then things will happen … wonderful things.”

L.M. Montgomery, “Anne of the Island”

Looking back, I see that I have always been made to WORSHIP, and the greatest misdirection of my life was in worshipping anything but Him who made me for that purpose. In my heart, I have always known that those “less-wild lovers”, as John Eldredge and Brent Curtis describe them in their book The Sacred Romance, will never be enough to satisfy. Brent continues to explain: “Because the gratification touches us in that heart-place made for transcendent communion, without itself being transcendent, it attaches itself to our desire with chains that render us captive.”

Captive. Sound familiar? In the context of Hebrews, the author encourages us to “lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us.” Staring at this verse and letting its truth sink in for the very first time, I became shamefully aware of my chains and caught a glimpse of freedom. I wondered if it was truly within my reach. If I hit the brakes on my rabid “pursuit of happiness,” what would be left worth pursuing? Without those “lovers” that had distracted me for so long, could life be sustained?

At this point in the verses, another character is introduced: Jesus. He started everything and now He is coming to finish it once and for all. Talk about passioned and driven! And He is chasing after JOY. “For the joy set before Him,” he endured. Words escape me when I consider His sacrifice.

Where did His death-defying, shame-despising, all-consuming joy come from? We find the answer in the words of an ancient song. “In your presence there is fullness of joy // at your right hand are pleasures forevermore,” sings King David. You see, Jesus is no longer enduring the cross. He is seated in God’s presence in the throne room of Heaven, at the greatest never-ending worship circle, where that great cloud of witnesses sing, “Holy! Holy! Holy!”

One day we’ll all be there. All this life on earth can offer us are glimpses of heaven, of that joy in His presence. As long as our fragile bodies cling to life, we are called to risk it all so that others can catch glimpses of that joy too.

With this joy in sight, endurance becomes possible. And we are not alone.

Your glory is so beautiful

I fall onto my knees in awe

And the heartbeat of my life

Is to worship in your light

Your glory is SO beautiful!

All Sons & Daughters, “Your Glory” (2011)

Why?

Singing comes naturally to me: it’s always been a part of who I am. It has always served me to deepen my relationship with God and my connection to faith in Him. But like any gifting that comes from God, it has been given not only for my personal edification but also for the edification of others.

In this season of my life, I want to become further equipped in worship through music to help to lead others in the joy of following God. The purpose of this blog is to record the journey and to welcome YOU (reading this) to follow along with me. Let’s go!

“4 Anyone who speaks in a tongue edifies themselves, but the one who prophesies edifies the church. 5 I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be edified.

6 Now, brothers and sisters, if I come to you and speak in tongues, what good will I be to you, unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or word of instruction? 7 Even in the case of lifeless things that make sounds, such as the pipe or harp, how will anyone know what tune is being played unless there is a distinction in the notes? 8 Again, if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle? 9 So it is with you. Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying? You will just be speaking into the air. 10 Undoubtedly there are all sorts of languages in the world, yet none of them is without meaning. 11 If then I do not grasp the meaning of what someone is saying, I am a foreigner to the speaker, and the speaker is a foreigner to me. 12 So it is with you. Since you are eager for gifts of the Spirit, try to excel in those that build up the church.”

1 Corinthians 14:4-12