Sunday, June 24, 2012

He Gives, He Takes Away

Take just a minute to let your mind wander. But with a purpose. Direct it to a specific person in your life. Not just any person. The one person you count yourself closest to. The person who knows your secrets. The one you trust the most (besides God) to know your thoughts, fears, hopes, and dreams. The person who has shared their secrets with you. The one you could not imagine your life without. The person God has blessed you the most with. It could be multiple people. Family. Your best friend. Heck, even a special pet.

Now take them away.

Take them out.

Mentally remove them from your life as you currently know it.

What do you feel? What are you thinking?

If God took away the person or persons in your life that you are closest to, the one(s) you deem most important, would you be okay?

Think about it. Really, truly think about it.

What is crossing your mind?

I can't imagine life without them. God wouldn't do that to me. He knows I need them. My life would be a mess without them. I need them.

Do you?

I know that may seem harsh. But do you really need them?

My grace is sufficient for thee.

Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us.

Our sufficiency is of God

These three phrases are straight from God's Word. Friends, isn't He enough? Isn't God sufficient to meet all our needs?

This is the part where I get brutally honest about myself. This post is for me just as much as it is for you. This topic has not been on my mind for just today. It's been all year. More than that. Months on end.

Every day, God has been asking me...

Autumn Rose Johnson. Aren't I enough? 

And every day, I answer...

Yes, Lord. You are enough.

But I don't necessarily apply it. Truth is, I have been struggling to apply it.

Every time I have embraced a friend going through a trial, reminding them that God is enough, I have been speaking to myself as well. Because, friends, I struggle with this too. So much. I daily teeter on the dangerous edge of believing I need "God and." God and my best friend.

I have been battling the mindset of believing that I need my Perfect, Holy, Undisappointing God plus a fallible, imperfect, disappointing human who struggles with sin just as much as I do. I have been adding on someone who will not fail to disappoint me into my room-for-one need category.

Don't get me wrong. My best friend is an incredible person. I have been blessed to have this person in my life. But I should not need him. He is just as human as I am. Thus, there will be (and have been) times in my life when he will (and has) disappoint(ed) me. Because he sins, he falls, and he makes mistakes.

The only person in my life who will never, ever fail me is God. The only person I truly need is God.

So what am I doing putting up someone doomed to fall above my infinitely perfect God?

Who is the greatest treasure in my heart? God? Or my best friend?

For where your treasure is, there where your heart be also.

Nearly every single day since late January, early February, a question has echoed through my mind.

What if God took him away? What if he temporarily or even permanently was no longer apart of my life? Not necessarily dying, but just no longer being a part of my life? Would I be okay?

I would constantly knee-jerk respond.

I'd have to be. I'm not a best friend worshipper. I'm a Christ-worshipper. Of course I'd be okay. I'd have no choice.

Am I?
Would I be (okay)?

And that, friends, is where I am always stopped.

Who do I worship?

A guy I admire and look up to in my life as my closest friend?
Or God--the ultimate example, the perfect and holy one, my Savior?

A friend can't save me. A friend will fail me. A friend sins. A friend disappoints.

God has saved me. God never fails me. God never sins. God never disappoints.

I'm skilled at excuses, though. It's a being human thing. You can probably relate.

God would never take him away. It's not gonna happen. I don't need to worry about it.

I can just imagine God's sad laugh whenever I thought that.

Because, friends, God took away my best friend.

God saw my rebellious and wayward heart, and knew what needed to be done.

It is only temporary. A not only physical, but emotional separation. God has given him a season in life that I cannot truly understand. It is a time for him in which it would be cruel and selfish of me to ask him to prioritize time for me. Because that is not in any way what he needs to be doing. His family is, and always will be first. And I have to respect that.

So God has taken away my best friend. One of the "I couldn't imagine my life without" people in my life. And I have two choices.

I can sulk, think about how unfair life is, and go through the motions of life, jumping every time my phone buzzes with a text message or someone chats me on Facebook because I think it's him. I know because I've done it. I've been doing it. Pretty pitiful, eh?


I can live. Pray for my friend and rejoice in how good God is and draw closer to Him: my perfect Savior. I can devote time to others. I can give more time and thought towards God, because He deserves all my time and thoughts. And with this choice, friends, is the one in which I will be truly happy.

It will not be easy. It has not been easy. I must make a daily choice to not allow my missing a close friend to consume my thought life. My thoughts, actions, words, and attitude must be filled with God.

When God is my #1 priority, every other want and desire will slip away. I will view them as I need to view them: nice, but not necessary.

Everything. Yes, even an earthly best friend.

Because I have a Heavenly best friend who will never go away.

What more could I ask for?

Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: 
the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.
Job 1:21

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Want vs. Need

God has blessed me richly in my life. Especially in the area of college.

I'm attending a spectacular Christian university that sets the standard in education. I had an incredible freshman year that, while was not without its trials, was also not without triumphs. My parents have been kind enough to pay for my tuition. I, in turn, pay for my textbooks and any other expenses I encrue.

For freshman year, I really wanted a job to help my parents with tuition. I'm fully aware college is not cheap, and I wanted to help in any way I could. My mom asked me to hold back at least a year so I could get my bearings with college life. So I respected her wishes and did so.

Towards the end of the school year, I started to determine where I wanted to work on campus starting the next semester. I was referred by a friend to the work supervisor for the school's snack and coffee shops. My work preference was the coffee shop, but I ended up in the snack shop where I was happy to be. Hey, I had a job, right??

But at the end of the semester, everything change. I received an e-mail from my new supervisor, stating that the school's food services were being outsourced. What did this mean for student workers? We may or may not have jobs for the next semester. I could've cried. Actually, I did. I had just landed a new job, and here I was set up to possibly already lose it!

So not fair.


After a series of e-mails I've received throughout this first month of summer, I finally received an e-mail this morning explaining the process for re-applying for jobs. I sent out a confirmation of interest e-mail just now. So now, I wait.

Every time I think about this, I'll admit, I get frustrated. Sometimes, okay, often, I question God's purpose in possibly taking away my job. I've struggled even at home to get a job. I put out tons of applications and got no response. I'm back working at my dad's office. This may not seem so bad, in fact, it's a good job in a great work environment. But it's been discouraging because I wanted to get a job because I went out and looked for it and offered myself for hire. Not because the boss is my dad. Even though someone was needed in my position.

It's a logic that can only be completely understood by independent minds like mine.

Constantly I've been questioning God. Asking Him, don't you want me to work?? You created me with the desire to do something so why all these barriers?

But the problem isn't with God.

The problem is always, 100% with me.

Because, as crazy as this sounds, maybe it's because I merely want a job. Do I need a job during the school year? I'm not paying my school bills. I have already become a master at saving 60+% on my textbooks. I don't really need to go to Starbucks or Genghis Grill so much (those things too often make fatter anyway). I don't need a whole lot of food in my dorm room (once again, enough of it will make me fatter. I'm on diet, people!!! The curse of the Freshman 15+). I eat in the dining common. The only time I truly need a job is for two reasons:

To keep me busy during summer and winter breaks.
To pay for textbooks.

Everything I need (three square meals a day, a place to sleep, and of course an education) is on campus and covered by my tuition cost.
Everything else is a matter of want.

So, whether God allows me to keep my job or not, I will not speak in respect of want, for I have learned and must continue to learn that whatever state I am in, I must be content. (paraphrase of Hebrews 13:5)

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


There have been many times in my life when I have raised my voice Heaven, my heart screaming why. This isn't fair, God. Why does it have to be this way?

There are two things about God I have the hardest time grasping.
1) We are not always meant to know the reason why He does things the way He does them.
2) His plan is much great and better than ours.

I question everything. I have to know why. I am an organizer. I plan everything.

I all-to-often cling to the misconception that I must have control of the situation and know why something is happening at all times. I have come to realize (multiple times) that if I try to explain the ultimate why to any situation, I won't get anywhere besides "because it is a part of God's plan."

Many times, God chooses to withhold the why from us. When He does this, he asks us to simply trust Him. But He doesn't leave us out in the cold. He gathers us up in His arms. He wraps us in a warm blanket and holds us as we cry. He gently wipes away our tears and stores them in special jars, labeled with our names. And He remains good.

Often, we don't feel like He is good. But God is not a God based on feelings. If He was, we'd be dealing with an inconsistent and unstable God. But we are not. God is a firm, unshakeable God. He is a God of truth. Action. Constancy. Truth is, whether or not we feel like God is good... He is.

I've been hooked on two songs lately.
"Before the Throne" was in a playlist sent to me by a friend.It constantly reminds me not only of Christ's perfect sacrifice because of His love for imperfect people (psst! That's us) but also of the way God is right there with me always. The One who forgave our sins is also the One who is with us through it all.

One of my roommates introduced me to "Times." Whenever I hear or hum it, I am reminded of God's constant, unchanging love. In good times and bad times, He is there for me.

Tonight, as I began to once again ask why, my heart's cries were interrupted by a flow of Heaven-sent reminders straight from lessons I learned in my childhood.

God is so good (He's so good to me).
Great is thy faithfulness oh God my Father (there is no shadow of turning with Thee).
What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee (I will not fear what flesh can do to me).
My God is so GREAT (so strong, so mighty).
There's nothing my God cannot do (for you).
He is able (to carry me through).
Jesus loves me (the Bible tells me so).
This world is not my home (I'm just passing through).

You. Yes, you. I know what you're thinking. You're in the midst of a trial. Everything seems to be going wrong. Nothing is going how you planned it. You feel alone and forgotten. But God has not forgotten you. He is putting a perfect plan in motion. A plan that is best for you. A plan that will ultimately bring Him glory.

Keep clinging, He's still there.

Whom have I in heaven but thee? 
and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. 
My flesh and my heart faileth: 
but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever. 
For, lo, they that are far from thee shall perish: 
thou hast destroyed all them that go a whoring from thee. 
But it is good for me to draw near to God: 
I have put my trust in the Lord God
that I may declare all thy works.
Psalm 73:25-28