Cross Words: Three things I’ve learned in the past year

By Isaiah Pauley

I’m slowly coming to terms with the realities of adulthood. In the past year, I’ve found myself paying for things like a cell phone and car insurance. And in four months, I’ll be getting married. Which means I’ll soon be paying for a home, electricity, water/sewer, and—well, you get it.

I’m still a full-time college student, working a part-time job. Basically, as a 20-year-old, I find myself learning a lot these days. And adulthood has influenced my faith in ways I never thought possible.

In high school, I preached for about 10 different churches. I led worship each week for my youth group. And I wrote articles such as this one. During those years, my biggest stress in life was my GPA. Well, fast-forward to today, and I’m still a perfectionist student. But I also have more responsibilities than ever before.

I guess, in some ways, I know what it feels like now.

I know what it feels like to care for a soon-to-be wife. I know what it feels like to be concerned about bills, budgets, and maintaining a school-work balance. And, yeah, in a handful of years, I’m sure I’ll look back and realize I was crazy. Because there will come a day when I have kids to provide for, even more bills to pay, and even more responsibilities. But if you’ll bear with me for just a moment, I want to share three things I’ve learned in the past year. Maybe they can help you walk more faithfully in this season—no matter where you are.

First, God isn’t a means to some other end.

I remember reading my teenage devotionals. I remember reading my Bible before going to school. I remember spending snow days reading Max Lucado. And those memories warm my heart.

Now, my devotions seem less meaningful. I find myself facing new struggles, new temptations, and new responsibilities. And while I love God more than ever before, my life feels much more scattered. And it’s causing me to wonder if maybe something is wrong with my faith. But I know God is the same.

This season is teaching me the importance of knowing God. It’s reminding me that God isn’t a means to some other end. In other words, my reason for seeking God is to know Him for who He is rather than trying to get something out of Him.

As life gets busier, it’s easy to only approach God when something needs paid. It’s easy to only pray when there’s conflict. But God isn’t a means to some other end. Rather than seeking Him for what He can do, our primary concern should be knowing Him for who He is. And that’s the first thing I’ve learned in this season.

Second, God’s provision for me isn’t meant to be compared.

Children might feel uncomfortable around other children who have nicer clothes, better toys, or more pristine homes. I remember as a child visiting the homes of my friends and thinking, “Man, I wish I had a house like this. Look at everything he has!” But those things were out of my control. As a child, I didn’t have the means to compete with my friends. I only had what was given to me by my parents (which was more than enough).

But now that I’m a little older, I find myself struggling with comparison like never before. You see, I have friends who drive nice trucks. I have friends who have nice homes. I have friends who can buy all kinds of expensive things. And I think to myself, “Okay, Isaiah. Maybe you’ve done something wrong.” Because the differences I see have nothing to do with my parents’ income or possessions. Now, it’s on me. And coming to terms with that insecurity reminds me that God’s provision in my life isn’t meant to be compared with His provision in my friends’ lives.

God’s provision is enough. Just as my parents’ provision was always enough (even if I didn’t have what the other kids had).

Lastly, God’s grace is more beautiful than I’d ever imagined.

I’ve always been fascinated by the grace of God. Obsessed by it. Drawn to it. And more so now than ever before.

It’s God’s grace that allows me to know Him. That’s why it’s so beautiful. And I’ve always been grateful for it. Even though I don’t deserve it.

But it’s also God’s grace which teaches me how to walk today. And that’s what I’m learning in this season. That even when I can’t understand, His grace is sufficient for me. That even when I mess up, His grace is sufficient for me. And even though life seems crazy, His grace is enough to carry me through.

I hope these three things encourage someone today.

By Isaiah Pauley

Isaiah Pauley is the Minister of Worship for Faith Baptist Church in Mason, W.Va. Find more at Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author.

Isaiah Pauley is the Minister of Worship for Faith Baptist Church in Mason, W.Va. Find more at Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author.