Then comes the first reading, Jeremiah 20:7-9.
You duped me, O LORD, and I let myself be duped;
you were too strong for me, and you triumphed.
All the day I am an object of laughter;
everyone mocks me.
Whenever I speak, I must cry out,
violence and outrage is my message;
the word of the LORD has brought me
derision and reproach all the day.
I say to myself, I will not mention him,
I will speak in his name no more.
But then it becomes like fire burning in my heart,
imprisoned in my bones;
I grow weary holding it in, I cannot endure it.
In layman's terms: Hey, God. I did what you asked me. I followed your call. And where did it get me? I'm mocked, and it has brought me derision and reproach.
And I thought, man, Jeremiah. I hear you dude. Okay, okay. I am not in danger of being martyred for following God's word, but I'm struggling. I am doing my best to follow God's calling to be a teacher, and what has it brought me? This really upsetting situation that's made me question everything.
Then the second reading, from St. Paul to the Romans. (My friend Ashley's favorite book, and perhaps mine too.)
I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God,
to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice,
holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship.
Do not conform yourselves to this age
but be transformed by the renewal of your mind,
that you may discern what is the will of God,
what is good and pleasing and perfect.
Right. God's will. Pleasing and perfect. But, you know ... Jeremiah. And finally, the Gospel. Matthew 16:21-27. Which, in part, says:
Then Jesus said to his disciples,
“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,
take up his cross, and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
Take up his cross. Every time I hear that phrase "take up your cross" it reminds me of something I read or heard once (and I wish I could remember where) that said "Jesus said to take up your cross, and WHERE DID YOU THINK YOU WERE GOING?"
Oh, right. Jesus picked up His cross and walked it to Calvary. Noted.
Point being -- God spoke to my heart this morning in a big way. And I will tell you this -- if God's desire was to draw me closer to Him, then there is no better thing He could have asked of me than teaching. I am dependent on God literally all day, every day. I need His help more than I have ever needed it before. I am surrendered to Him because I absolutely literally cannot do this without Him.
One thing I've noticed since I have drawn closer to God is that I feel Him in a bigger way than ever before. Case in point: this morning I really felt the need to reach out to my friend Tracy, who actually had my job for many years before I had it. I decided that after I did work at school for several hours and then went the store with my mom, I'd email her.
Mom and I were in the travel items aisle at Target (shout out Cara!) and all of a sudden I hear my mom say, "Tracy! Hi!"
Yep, you got it. Tracy showed up exactly where I was exactly when I needed her. She actually told me she had just been thinking about me at church this morning! And, no lie, that lovely person talked to me in that aisle for AN HOUR. Her words made me feel a lot better. She told me many important things, but the ones I want to highlight are --
- God will meet you where you are. If you are giving 100% and doing all you can, there will still be holes in your ability, but that God will come and plug those holes. He'll take your humanness and turn it into what He needs.
- When He calls you to something, He will not forsake you.
- That I am a force for good, and there will always be forces in this world working against that. That you would think if you are doing the right thing and working hard, things should be easy, but unfortunately that is not our world. (And if there's one thing I know I believe it's that Good will win.)
- That you (I) need to rely on God completely and pray constantly and stay in incredibly close contact with Him throughout the day every day. It's the only way.
The thing is, I am still in the middle of this situation at school, and it seems like I won't make it over the mountain. But today has really showed me that God has asked me to do this, and He knows I am doing everything I can to the best of my ability, and for whatever reason, this situation is in His plan.
I also remembered today that when you're worried about a situation you're in and thinking constantly about yourself that the best thing to do is something for others. So mom and I bought a few things for a local place that could use them, and I'm putting some of them into little individual bags tonight. (Coming your way, Jaye!)
"Take up your cross and follow Me."
I'm with You, wherever we're going.