Tuesday, September 25, 2012

'Medase', Ghana, for your inspiration.

        For those of you who aren't fluent in Twi, one of Ghana's languages, the word 'Medase' means 'Thank you' in English (Don't be fooled...I'm not fluent in Twi by any means...this is just one word I learned while I was in Ghana!). I have a lot to be thankful for because of my trip to Ghana. I think the biggest lesson I learned while I was in Ghana was to rely on my God more and more. Sorry Dr. A, if you're reading this, that I didn't say anything regarding the 6 hours of course credit I received...all that was next in the line of things that I learned! 
        Like I said, Ghana really inspired me to rely on God to get me through my troubles, both present and future. I loved the attitude that most Ghanaians had that God would bring them through whatever troubles they had and the fact that God seemed to be ever-present in all the towns we visited. Okay, I could go on and on about how great Ghana is and how much it changed my faith in just the two and a half weeks we were there, but I'll get to the point. 
        In Ghana there are symbols called Adinkra symbols. They were created by the Akan people and are now used by the Ashanti people in particular, but can be seen throughout the country. Adinkra means 'a departing message' or 'a goodbye', so often times people would put cloth adorned with Adinkra symbols in a coffin, as a message to bring up to God, or give them to a person leaving for a long journey.  One of the most popular that I noticed was the Gye Nyame, which means "Except God". Essentially, nothing is important in this world, except God. 
Gye Nyame
    One that I fell in love with, is Nyame Dua. This symbols stands for God's presence, or the Altar of God. I have painted this on a canvas and hung it above my bed at my apartment here in Fayetteville, but since I have gotten home from Africa felt a stronger connection to it than any other symbol. 
Nyame Dua
   This brings me to my point in this blog. For a while now I have been debating getting a tattoo to symbolize all the work that God has done in my life, and my walk of faith with Him. This blog is all about seeing God through everyday occurrences and what I have learned about my faith through experience.  In this blog post I spoke about 2 Corinthians 12:10, "That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weakness, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." I related my ultimate physical weakness, my achilles' tendon, to the weaknesses in my life and always relying on God, whose "power is made perfect in weakness" (2 Cor. 12:9). That is why I would get this tattoo on my ankle, close to my achilles' tendon. I love the idea of having a symbol of God's presence close to a symbol of my ultimate weakness. 
    I know not everyone who is reading this necessarily agrees with or understands why I think I need a tattoo symbolizing my relationship with Christ and well, that's okay. I have been blessed with parents who struggled back and forth with me regarding this idea but respect me enough to tell me that it is my decision. I could never get this tattoo if I didn't think my parents would be with me in this. I have been blessed with friends that will listen to me as I explain it to them and ask them to pray for me in this decision. I am hoping to be blessed with you, as a reader, who will respect me in whichever decision I make, to know that I have struggled with this tattoo idea and to know that it means more than the aesthetic value of a tattoo.
         It reminds me that everyday I will struggle with my faith in the real world, and every day God will be there. It reminds me of my time in Ghana, where God was ever-present. It reminds me of the meaning of Adinkra-a departing message. In my walk of faith I would like to show people I come into contact with that God is present in the weakest of times. 
     I haven't completely decided whether or not I will get this tattoo, that wasn't the point of this post. It was to share with my friends and family something that has been on my heart for a long time. If I do decide to get the tattoo though, I know it will be because I have prayed long and hard about it with God, and believe whole-heartedly it is the right thing to do, and not just a temptation. 

I love you all for taking time to read my blog, I urge you all to try and see God in some aspect of your life today, tomorrow, everyday as I try to. It makes the day much more enjoyable!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

All you need is Love...and joy, peace, patience...

Happy Sunday!

Most of you know that every Sunday for the past 3 and a half years or so I have been sending out a 'prayer text' to a group of about 45 or so (If you would like to be added onto the list, just let me know!) I started doing it my senior year as to keep in touch with the group of people I did Work Crew with at a Young Life camp that summer, it has now grown to include friends from Summer Staff and friends from home!

Today was like any other day, I sent out the text and waited for responses. I get anywhere from 4 texts back to 15 normally. I don't ask that everyone responds every Sunday, but I like that they know the option is out there, if they need someone to pray for them, they can count on me! One of my great friends Maddie Lovell responded today (she is normally one to respond every week and I love her for it!) asking to be filled with the fruit of the Spirit.

Now, I knew before I responded to her that the fruit of the Spirit was essentially love and kindness and such but I am ashamed to say that I had forgotten the whole meaning of the phrase so I did my research. For those of you that are like me, it comes from Galatians 5:22-23, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. Against such things there is no law." Not only did I read this one passage, as a good Bible reader I decided to look into its context and man did I love what I read.

Galatians 5 is all about living by the Spirit and not but the sinful nature that us humans are prone to, and the battle that we fight trying to live that way. It is so hard to live and be filled with the fruits of the Spirit all the time...I've only ever known Jesus Christ to be able to do so. But what is great is the idea that although we know only Jesus and God are perfect in their intentions and actions, we can still strive to be filled with the Spirit and reject the sinful nature of the flesh in order to be closer to God. It should be our intention as Christians to do this.

While I was reading Galatians, I also read a little earlier than the fruit of the Spirit section. At the beginning of Chapter 5 it says this, "...The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love." (Galatians 5:6) Paul here is talking about the irony of those who follow a law just because it's a law thinking and that by obeying it is the only way to get to heaven. He urges people to disregard the fact that there are certain laws set up and to love. Love is what will get you into heaven. Think about 1 Peter 4:8, "Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins." God makes it evident that we are called to love in this world, not to judge (neither others nor ourselves), and the rest will fall in place.

I think it is important that the first thing listed in Galatians 5:22 is love, because don't all the rest follow? With love don't you get kindness, goodness, joy and peace? It is important of course to try and achieve each one on its own, but I think as Christians, as humans, we need to focus on love. We don't need all these rules to get into heaven. "For God so LOVED the world, that He gave His only son so that all who believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life." John 3:16 says it all. God loved us, we need to love and believe in His son, and we will turn out just fine.

Thanks Maddie, for making me do my research