Made to be Great, Change for the Greater

If you ever hear me talk about someone I absolutely adore, whether he or she is an actual person or a fictional character, you’ll hear me gush and ramble.

I won’t disclose a full list, but I will name a few. Earlier this week, I finished rereading my favorite book, To Kill a Mockingbird, and if you were to come up to me in the next week or so and start discussing Atticus Finch, my heart would be so overwhelmed with happiness and affection that either my face would light up like a sunbeam or I would start crying.

You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who is happier to hear a One Direction song and more at the ready to defend them when someone starts speaking badly of them. Those five guys make my heart smile so much, it’s ridiculous.

One of my favorite professors in college was Dr. Beth Huber. She is a phenomenal professor, a hippie and an activist, an expert on the Beats, and her favorite band is Green Day. She’s weird, and I love it. I saw her the semester after I had her class, and she told me to send her a friend request on Facebook, and the only thing I could think was, “Oh my gosh, I can’t believe you actually want to be my friend.”

Another person I just love is Lisa Harper. If you read the blog I ran during my internship with New Spring Church, you may recall the series I did on her book Untamed.

Through reading Untamed twice, I feel like I’ve learned a lot about Harper other than the fact that she’s a writer. To begin with, she’s a good writer, a distinction that’s necessary to point out. She’s extremely intelligent, funny, and honest. She’s forgiving and has a heart so teeming with love and joy that she and God must be best friends. But it’s clear that Harper’s life isn’t perfect, and I love it when a human isn’t afraid to show that they’re human.

When Alan asked Sunday if we ever wished that we were as successful as anyone else, my thoughts were along the lines of, “You have no idea.”

There are so many writers that I look up to and enjoy reading, including Harper. Some of them are as great of people as they are authors. I would love to be able to write like them and be as successful as they are. And there are people who have skills and qualities that I don’t have at all that I would also like to have. I’d love to be more like all of my favorite people and heroes.

But I don’t actually want to be any of them. More like them, yes, but not them. They all have qualities and successes I would like to have, but believe it or not, there are actually some perks to being me. Among those perks are my unique relationship with God and my own mountains to climb and descend.

It’s impossible to be a greater version of myself if I’m being someone else.

It’s easy to get in ruts or down to low points and think, “Well, this is as good as it gets, and it’s not that great.”

And I hope we’ve all had moments when we just pause and think, “Man, it just doesn’t get better than this.”

Fortunately, that’s not true. No matter how your life is now – whether it is outstandingly terrible or outstandingly fantastic – God has better things in store for you.

For example, my life was going well enough before I found out that All Time Low (a band I’m a fan of) is coming to North Carolina in April. My life then got even better when I was able to get a ticket to go see them (and a fast lane pass so I won’t have to stand in line as long).

I know what you’re thinking. “Carrie, that’s awesome! How could it get any better?”

I’m not saying that the following will happen, but all things are possible with God, so I’m saying that it has the potential to happen: During the band’s performance, the guitarist sees me in the audience and sort of falls in love with me then and there. See? A great life made even greater.

On a more serious note (although I do seriously have a crush on Jack Barakat, the previously mentioned guitarist, and consider this my written request to God to please let that scenario happen), God only wants to make our lives greater.

In 1 Kings 19, Elijah finds his soon-to-be apprentice, Elisha, at work, plowing a field.

Not so great, right? Hats off to him for doing what he had to do, but he wasn’t exactly out living the dream. I imagine he often returned to his house sweaty, dirty, and tired. But while it might not have been an easy or glitzy life, it was a good one. As far as we know, Elisha and his family didn’t need or want anything. It might not be the career we would probably pursue, but Elisha was, at the very least, content with it.

Then Elijah arrives on the orders of God, puts his cloak around Elisha, and walks off expecting the guy to follow. Instead of questioning him or ignoring him, Elisha simply says, “Hold on. I need to tell my parents goodbye first.” Elijah tells him to go back and think on everything that’s happened.

Does Elisha decide not to go through with it, decide that he wouldn’t be able to do what was being asked of him now and what would be later, that he was fine where he was and didn’t want to risk it?

No, he doesn’t. The fear of change that so often stops us from moving forward or moving up didn’t seize Elisha. He slaughters the oxen that pulled his plow and burns the plow itself. He welcomes the bigger, better plans God has for him.

There’s something about change that makes a lot of us uneasy. I suppose there are many reasons for it, but the element of change that I dislike is how it takes away the comfort I feel in something.

One reason I was nervous about post-college life was I knew that every average day would basically be the same. (I know that probably sounds stupid, but hear me out.) I’d wake up, go to work, come home and do whatever I wanted for a few hours, and go to bed, only to do it all over again the next day. I’ve never been a stranger to a routine, but when you’re in school, you get breaks to spice up your routine or your semester ends and you get to create a different routine if you want. I liked the regularly scheduled changes, the timed ebb and flow. I was afraid of the change that meant there wouldn’t be any more change, but it’s been more exciting than I thought it’d be.

Even if change makes us uncomfortable, we should take comfort in knowing that any change God brings us to will make us and our lives greater. Jesus said that He came to give us life abundantly (John 10:10), not to lead us in a life of dullness. So why are we settling for just that? Because that’s exactly what we’re doing when we resist God’s desire and plan for us to be greater. Don’t miss out because you don’t like change. Don’t be afraid of new things because they might end up being your favorite things. Don’t be afraid of a new life because if God has a hand in it, it will definitely be a better one.

By Carrie Prevette

The Chatterbox: Deciphering Sounds

There is something to be said for familiarity. Sure, there are times when familiarity holds us back. It tends to bring comfort, which usually doesn’t help us to grow in God. But the familiarity I’m talking about has nothing to do with finding comfort in our situations or with our relationship with God. I’m talking about being familiar with God.

Many of us, if not all of us, have at least one celebrity that we just absolutely love. It could be an athlete, an actor, or a band member. If we’re being honest, we’d probably recognize this person out in public faster than we would recognize our own family members. We know all their songs. We see every movie they’re in. We watch every game. We watch interviews, read articles, look up ticket prices, and buy merch. We know their voices, their personalities, and their likes and dislikes. In short, we’re familiar with them.

We’re also familiar with our loved ones. It’s almost scary how well I know my best friend. I’ve only known her for four years, but it feels like we’ve been besties our entire lives. I know her existing opinions on things, but I can also tell how she would respond to new things. I can tell you whether or not she would find a certain joke funny, whether she would like a particular dress, if she would like a song or not. And she’s the exact same way with me. We’re know each other’s views on life and what makes each other happy. We’re familiar with each other.

That’s the way we should be with God.

The thing is, God speaks to everyone differently. It goes back to us having a personal relationship with Him. But the only way to develop that relationship with God and recognize how He speaks to you is to get to know Him. You have to spend time talking to Him, listening to Him, responding to Him, and seeing how He responds to you.

The reason this is so important is because the Chatterbox is actually pretty good at sounding like God sometimes.

While God loves you to death and back, He knows you’re not perfect, and He wants to work on those imperfections with you. Obviously you can’t change something if you don’t acknowledge that change is necessary, so the Holy Spirit convicts you and points to the areas you could stand to improve. He does this in order to better us.

The Chatterbox, however, has very different motives for pointing out our wrongs. It doesn’t do it to improve us, but to bring to light our flaws. This causes us to further develop a negative view of ourselves. And once that negative view exists, it becomes easier for us to listen to the Chatterbox because we already believe, on some level, what it’s telling us. God’s voice becomes more distant and unrecognizable while the Chatterbox grows louder and clearer.

In addition to pointing out what’s wrong with us, the Chatterbox also excels at reminding us of those things that we try so hard to forget.

Have you ever woke up with the previous day’s mistakes on your mind? That slip up at work. That thing you shouldn’t have said to your friend. Wishing you had done everything completely different. It’s a new day and God’s new mercies are ready to greet us, but the Chatterbox won’t shut up long enough for us to realize it.

Then there are those things that we’ve been trying to forget for years. You know, those scars that we wish would grow fainter as the years go by. That girl you hurt back in high school. That embarrassingly stupid thing you said in class in college. The times that you completely disregarded God. They’re things that we wish we could erase from our history, pieces of our lives that we hope never make any kind of highlight reel. We want to forget them, and God also wants us to forget them. Dwelling on our less-than-glorious past will only hinder us from reaching what God has planned for us. The Chatterbox’s mission is to keep us focused on that past. The more our eyes linger there, the less time we have to invest in our promising, Chatterbox-less future.

Unlike the Chatterbox, the Holy Spirit reminds us of something other than the bad. He reminds us of what God’s done to right our wrongs and help us move on from our past mistakes, no matter how big they are. He provides us with hope, and that’s something the Chatterbox will never do. That is how we can ultimately tell the Chatterbox and the Holy Spirit apart.

I know I’ve said something like this before, but it won’t hurt to repeat it: It’s ridiculous how easily we forget everything God’s done for us. We can remember some of the most pointless stuff, but we can’t remember what our Lord and Savior did for us. (If you were at church Sunday, you’ll recall my Fresh Prince of Bel Air rap during the sermon as a prime example of this.)

The good news is that God is patient while we come to remembrance and realization. It doesn’t matter how often we forget or how much we forget. He has the most fantastic ways of reminding us that He always was, still is, and will forever be God. Maybe He reminds you in the smallest of ways. Maybe it takes a grand production of sorts to jog your memory. Perhaps it’s through spoken or written word, through a sight or an occurrence. However it happens, the point is that it does happen, every time.

I can’t tell you how many times God has to tell me that He’s got it under control. Honestly, you’d think I’d learn my lesson, but old habits are difficult to ditch, I suppose. God doesn’t get frustrated with me and contemplate giving up on me. No, He jogs my memory with this feeling of amazement. It could be a brand new kind of problem, but when God handles it for me, I get this familiar sense of peace and relief, and it’s like He’s saying to me in the comforting voice that only a loving father has, “Carrie, I’ve got this. I’ve always got this.”

It’s familiar because I’ve experienced a lot of struggles like that with God. I try my hardest to handle my own messy situations before I give them over to Him. For whatever reason, I’m always left in a familiar, yet newfound shock at how great God truly is. I’ve developed a relationship with God where He can tell me, “Carrie, what you’re doing is kind of stupid. Look at what you’re doing to this. Why don’t you let me take this from you?” And I say, “Okay, God. Let’s give your way a shot.”

He’s not mad at us when we need reminding of how perfect He is. He’s not fed up with us when we finally remember who He is. God knows how powerful the signal and noise of the Chatterbox is. He doesn’t fault us for listening to it. He just turns His mic up and speaks louder. He understands that it might take a minute for us to decipher the sounds. He knows how hard it is to tune out the Chatterbox. He doesn’t care how long it takes for us to hear Him as long as we do eventually hear Him.

By Carrie Prevette

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