I think we can all agree that I'm terrible at writing blogs and keeping everyone up-to-date like I promised. The truth is I've been finding it challenging to not only process everything I'm experiencing and learning, but how to distinguish between the moments I truly want to share and the moments I want to keep private. I think that's why I tend to lean towards photography more than writing. It's a way for me to invite people into a moment and create an atmosphere of interpretation for each individual while keeping the true emotions behind the moment personal and sacred. Nonetheless, sometimes words need to be spoken and experiences need to be shared.
New Zealand has by far been one of the best decisions of my life. I don't take this time for granted. I am genuinely in awe of the reality of my life at the moment along with the evidence of God's grace. The fact that I have so many individuals supporting me through finances and prayer is something I thank God for constantly. I genuinely mean that. Me being here hasn't been of my own doing. God has provided this incredible opportunity through the obedience and faithfulness of so many individuals in my life. It has been a community effort to get me here and because of this truth it has been difficult for me to understand why so much of my time has been focused on myself. To put it plainly I've felt selfish, but God has been showing me New Zealand is a time to focus on myself in light of who God is and who He has made me to be. I need to be made aware of the areas in my life that need to be revamped, renewed, redefined, and regenerated. This is my time with God to focus on personal growth and self-reflection. With all that being said, I want to share a glimpse of how God has taken statements I've heard throughout my entire Christian life, transformed them and has given them a foundational permanency in my life.
The last several weeks have been hectic to say the least. Jumping from one thing to the next, moving and living on a ship for over a week, along with hosting a couple Christmas parties and starting outreach prep on top of lectures, one-on-ones, small groups and finding alone time. It's all been a blur. But thankfully it's still been a time of growth and renewal. One thing God started to share with me before starting this journey, and has continued to show me in detail through my DTS lectures, is the joy of repentance. I don't know about you, but growing up I formed an extremely skewed understanding of repentance. When I heard this word I subconsciously changed my view of God and His character. I formed a mind set around this word that twisted my mentality to view God as someone who sat high on a seat shaking His finger at me. I approached the throne as a small child in trouble and full of shame. Throughout relationships and my time here, I've come to realize I'm not the only one with this frame of mind. God hit me hard with this reality a couple weeks back, to some it might seem obvious, but to me it has taken 23 years to believe: repentance is meant to be an act of joy. God wants His children to stop trying to be the Holy Spirit. We need to allow the Holy Spirit to do His job by bringing repentance and conviction. God will never allow conviction to come into our lives in a hindering way, that's condemnation. Rather conviction is about freedom, empowerment, and relationship built on a foundation of love.
So I personally aspire to live a life of joy-filled repentance in light of God's character, His nature, and His desire for my life. "The Lord is compassion and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in love." God always comes from a place of love. Instead of looking at the sins in my life and seeing myself as a failure, I choose to look to God and see a Father who is cheering me on to become my true self. He is inviting me to rest on His lap and dangle my feet from His knees. He has never come to us with a hidden agenda. He is and always has been for us. He wants the best for you and He knows the best for us. He wants us to get past the junk in our lives in order to see ourselves in light of who He is and who He has made us to be. When it comes to God we have nothing of value to lose but everything of worth to gain. Nothing within you, not one thought, not one action or emotion has ever surprised Him. You have never let God down, because you were never holding Him up. He knows all of you and still chooses to pursue you. He is jealous for you. You are seen, you are heard, you are valued, and you are unforgettable to the King of all Kings. He's not just simply with you, but He notices you. He takes delight in you. You have His attention and affection. You are never put on the back burner in His heart or life. You have never been a face in the crowd, a statistic, an interruption or an inconvenience to Him. You are a dream of God that He has given breathe, life, flesh and bone to. He wants to be woven into every facet of your life. We serve a very personal Creator. Everything aspect of God's character is inviting us into a closer relationship with Himself so He can redeem us through His love. Repentance is just that, a way to bring us into closer intimacy with our Father. It's never done in condemnation or confusion. His love isn't complicated. So learn to come to the Father boldly, in humbleness, expecting to be wrapped in His love and develop a joy-filled life of repentance. Repentance brings change. Good change. He loves you enough to correct you, always.
Here are a few more photos of my time here. The first photos are of the valley, it's where I do a lot of my thinking and talking with the Lord. The last portion is our week spent on a ship.