Tuesday, March 22, 2016

spiritual journey

By Brandon Jackel

I have been alive on the earth for thirty-two years.  The last fifteen of those years I have been on a faith walk.  When  I was seventeen, I had an encounter with God that marked my life.  Since that time I have been on a spiritual journey, trekking through life, learning valuable principles.  During this time, some of the most valuable principles I have learned, are to delight in God, travel to be refreshed, and give generously. This post is only about my journey in delighting in God, while I will share later on the other two ideas.
I remember a time, shortly after I graduated from high school, when I had a strong desire to be social.  Every weekend I would meet up with friends and I would smoke, drink, and party.  It was fun initially, but later it seemed like it began to take over my life.  What started off as a social outlet turned into an unhealthy lifestyle.  I went from partying on the weekends to almost every day.  I was out of control. 
            One weekend my friend was having a house party.  His parents were out of town, and the party was huge.  It was fun at first, but then it got out of control.  People began to engage in inappropriate behavior.  Too much alcohol was consumed.  Illegal drugs were used, and many of my friend’s personal belongings were either broken or stolen.  When the party ended the next morning I had nowhere to go.  My breath smelled like alcohol, and my pupils were dilated.  I needed somewhere to go, so I decided to go to church. 
            I arrived, I walked in, and took a seat in the front row. (I didn't think much about it at the time.) The people who surrounded me were friendly.  They greeted me and welcomed me to the service.  As soon as the worship team began to lead in music, the presence of God came upon me.  All of a sudden, I was filled with sobriety as tears of joy streamed down my face.  In that moment, I was able to think clearly.  For the first time I was able to make sense of my life, and I was able to recognize the reasons behind the bad choices I had made. 
            As I reflected on what had happened to me, I felt liberated.  I felt like a thousand pounds had been lifted off my shoulders.  All my fears, worries, and anxieties disappeared.  It felt like I had received a new heart, and I had been transformed into a new person.  I had never in my life experienced anything like this.  The emotions I experienced in that moment were joy and peace.  As tears came down my face, all the negative emotions I had harbored over the years were lifted.  It appeared that my perspective in life had changed, and I was viewing myself and others through a new lens. 
            “Is this really happening?” I asked myself.  “Is this a dream?” I wondered.  What I experienced felt like a dream; it all happened so fast, and so unexpectedly.  I never experienced anything like this before.  It was so uplifting and so refreshing.  I could experience the love and pleasure of God over my life, and it sent chills down my spine.   I knew from that moment on my life would be forever changed.  I then realized I had been searching for this type of pleasure all my life, but I was looking for it in the wrong places.  I realized I had a desire in my heart for God and I could delight in Him, where I had previously only delighted in  parties and drugs.  My delight now became taking pleasure in Him, rather than in temporal gratifications.
            We are all on a spiritual journey. Someone else's walk may look different than mine, but this still remains- There is nothing more pleasurable than delighting in God and who He is.  It’s good for us to delight in Him.  People are created for pleasure.  When people don’t delight themselves in Him, we may find ourselves delighting in other things (drugs, alcohol, sex, food, pornography, gambling, forms of entertainment, etc.), things that do not last.  When people don’t take pleasure in the presence of God, people find pleasure in worldly desires.  Worldly desires are things that bring pleasure to our soul, but not necessarily to our spirits. Eternal pleasures touch both the soul and spirit. , and create lasting fruit and manifesting goodness in our lives.  We all want to find pleasure in something and we have the power to choose what that will be.
            However, when we delight ourselves in God, we experience heavenly pleasures.  These pleasures include emotions such as love, joy, and peace.  Pleasures from heaven may also consist of dreams, visions, and angelic visitations.  These experiences happen to encourage, exhort, and affirm who you are as a person with purpose.  Pleasure from God instills courage, builds confidence, and ignites passion.  Desiring God also develops faith, deepens hope, and stirs love towards others.  If people delight themselves in the Lord, they will be more prone to accomplish goals, fulfill their destinies, and live full, satisfied lives.
            There is a passage of scripture that states, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He shall give you the desire of your heart.  Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him and He shall bring it to pass.” (Psalms 37:4-5, NKJ) This is a promise in the scriptures stating if we take pleasure in God, then He will fulfill the dreams within our hearts.  People are able to fulfill the dreams within their hearts because the pleasure of God is enabling.  This enablement comes when people delight themselves in God, receiving all the good things He has prepared for those who desire Him. There are many pleasures in life, the ones that last forever are those of the spirit. I have learned if I am only feeding the desires of the heart, and not feeding the hunger of the spirit, I would be spiritually dead. In turn this makes me feel unsatisfied in life. We all are on a spiritual journey waiting to feed on that which eternally satisfies both the body, soul and spirit. This is a need only God can meet.
           My life has been a roller coaster of things, all which I found great pleasure in since God was my delight in it all.  I received fresh vision for my life.  I had more clarity pertaining to my purpose in life, and I had more definition of how to fulfill that purpose.  I felt purpose in going to Bible school, where I also met my wife.  I have been very blessed in life. He gave me a beautiful bride and five incredible children. 
            As I continued to delight in God, I had dreams in my heart to learn different skill sets and travel the world.  He opened up opportunities for me to travel domestically and abroad.  I traveled to Israel, India, Ireland, and Guatemala.  I have fulfilled several desires of my heart and I truly believe its because my delight and pleasure is in Him. There is a Proverb that says, "man makes the plan, but He orders his steps." Delighting in the goodness of God, and all that is wonderful around you, gives us the ability to see beyond human means to dream big. We can dream and he can put those dreams to flight.
              This is just one man's story. We each have a story being written of our lives. The pleasures of God are innumerable. What does your heart delight in?

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