Friday, November 27, 2015

The Outcome of a Refreshed Soul // Love Fully

With the early winter air comes a certain chill and dimness that can dampen a spirit. We huddle in our homes with hot chocolate and a crackling fire and complain about the cold. We dream of summer and yearn for spring. The cold never bothers me, though, because there's something about the chilly air that sends a message of hope. Leaves fall off  trees, but they still dance in the wind. The trees are bare, but still very much alive. The pines hold their green, and against the bareness of everything else they look their best yet. I love winter, not just because of warm sweaters and fuzzy socks, but because of the hope that clings to us so closely.

Things will get better; I promise. 

People go through winters sometimes. We close our hearts and stop blooming, refusing to reach out to anyone. Those wonderful pines, though, the ever-true evergreens, the people of hope, reach out. I've encountered quite a few of these evergreens lately, and they've been a huge blessing. This holiday season these evergreens have reminded me just how much I have to be thankful for.

Thanksgiving morning we six Reids boarded our Chevy Traverse at 6:34 a.m. with coffee, Pop Tarts, lots of blankets, and my camera in hand. We drove to Cades Cove, a wildlife reserve in Townsend, Tennessee, and watched cotton candy clouds rise above the Great Smoky Mountains. 

It was a simple journey, but it was enough. My depleted soul was looking for refreshment, and the reminder that God is always in control was exactly what I needed.

- (excuse the blurriness; I had my telephoto, manual focus lens attached with no tripod.) -

We drove through the eleven mile loop twice, making sure I was able to adequately capture the true beauty we saw. Though the pictures don’t do it justice, I am pleased with how they turned out. We were able to get right next to a group of turkeys. They were monstrous, and the way the sun shone on their feathers was beautiful. I was able to get probably ten or fifteen yards from a huge buck, and though I’ve seen more than my share of whitetail deer in my lifetime, this one was the biggest yet. 

- two turkeys on turkey day. how about that?-

We then hiked to Abrams falls, a “moderately difficult 3-4 hour” hike that we were able to accomplish in two and a half hours.  The view was stunning. Several times I found myself humming How Great Thou Art because of the awe I felt. God’s beauty and power was so evident in these moments. My soul was full, and because of that I was driven to worship. It amazes me that the very thing we do to glorify the Lord we cannot do on our own. God places the desire to worship Him in our hearts. Without His help, we cannot even give thanks to Him. 

We drove home with renewed souls and tired legs. (If I were to be honest, I’d have to say that they still are a little sore.) God started accomplishing a little heart-work within me at that moment, and I haven’t been able to shake it since.

These past few days God has reminded me just how dependent upon Him I really am. I need Him for the most monotonous things – every breath I breathe is borrowed from Him – yet I only call upon Him in times of distress.  During and after the terrorist attacks on Paris, the hashtag “pray for Paris” was trending. The world called out to God that night. If only we could realize that we need God every single day, not just during wars or terrorist attacks or times of distress. I need God when I wake up in the mornings. I need God to have the strength to go to school with a joyful heart. I need God to stand up in front of a whole classroom of people and tell them all that He has done for them (more on that later). I am forever in need of God. I need His grace on good days and bad. I still need His grace when I get up and read my Bible and pray. I need His grace when all I have time to do is throw on a t-shirt and jeans and grab coffee to-go. I always need God, and this week He has communicated to me just how much I need to live in His grace.

I went into our little cabin’s small bedroom last night knowing I should talk to God, but I picked up a book instead: The Discipline of Grace, a book that was a “stretch goal” for my summer internship, but I never got around to reading it. Jerry Bridges, by God’s power, convicted me of something. My lack of loving others.

I’ve always thought I was pretty good at loving. My church family always tells me how much I smile, and I know that’s by God’s grace alone. People at school call me a “sweet girl,” and I never really doubted it. But last night I realized just how much I needed to start loving others. Jerry Bridges put this list together adapted off of First Corinthians 13:4-7:

·         I am patient with you because I love you and want to forgive you.
·         I am kind to you because I love you and want to help you.
·         I do not envy you because I love you and want you to have the best.
·         I do not boast about my attainments because I love you and want to hear about yours.
·         I am not proud because I love you and want to esteem you before myself.
·         I am not rude because I love you and care about your feelings.
·         I am not self-seeking because I love you and want to meet your needs.
·         I am not easily angered because I love you and want to overlook your offenses.
·         I do not keep a record of your wrongs because I love you and “love covers a multitude of sins.”

Are you letting God’s love manifest itself in your life this much?  I know I’m not. I didn’t think it was possible for anyone to be this selfless, and I know none of us can all the time. However, with God’s grace in our lives, anything is possible, and if we depend on Him to love like this and let others know that it’s God’s love we’re showing and not ours, it is beyond possible. 

Next week life starts back up again. I have two weeks of school then a week of midterms, and then Christmas break. But I know those three weeks will drag by, perhaps slower than than the whole school year combined. Will you start asking God for the grace to love others this much? Comment below if you're in. I'll keep you updated here as well as on Instagram at @thereidwhowritesblog and @mur_shells ! As Christians, we are supposed to be people of love. Will you be known for God's love shining through you?