ICYouth: In the Quiet {Trever}

Because of your generosity to Accelerate, we are able to partner with God in His work of transforming lives. Every Friday, we’re taking a peek at how God is working in the lives of our high school students. These servants of Jesus are walking daily by faith as they navigate the hallways and relationships inside their school walls and beyond. Our weekly series will highlight what God is up to in their lives in their voices. Leave them some encouragement by commenting?

by Trever Carter

As I first sat down to write this, I was again faced with the uncertainty on what to talk about. For me, life has been somewhat uneventful lately: the days running together, school and sports starting back up, busy-ness and reality setting back in and nothing really stuck out to me as it traditionally does.  So, I heeded the advice of a great friend of mine and decided to do something which I have not done in quite some time: quiet time with God.

Truthfully, as much as it disappoints me to say it, it has been a while since a sat down in silence with God. Not asking Him for anything. Not thanking Him for anything. Simply asking Him to open up my heart as I sat in His presence. And after I did that, I feel like I have landed on what God had wanted me to talk about.

So I arrive at the topic of pace, how we as people get so caught up in the challenges and feats of today.  For me, it’s getting through school, finishing homework and making it to bed on time with as minimal stress as possible. For you, it could be having a good day at work, spending time with your family or whatever else the day throws at you.  Inevitably, the society that we live in today doesn’t stop moving: it’s fast paced, you have to keep up and you rarely can catch a break.  Even when I do, I am far too exhausted to accomplish anything for myself.

But what does this mean for our faith? I would have to say that more often than not, in a rushed attempt to get everything done, my relationship with God gets pushed to the back burner.  That’s a conviction that I am happy to say that I have come to realize, though. Looking back at the times where life has been so busy that it’s been hard to keep up, I have come to notice that I was not only being deprived of a relationship with our Creator but also being robbed of all the things that He gives to me.  Genuine joy turns into only waiting for the day to end, patience becomes a short fuse and temper with my family members and even love for others dwindles from a roaring flame to only hot embers. I miss opportunities to share God’s love with a friend, to offer them a hand, an ear, or a shoulder, all because I myself have been distanced from it all by societies’ fast-track.

So there lies my resolution as we go into 2013: to have the presence of God increase in my life. And to truly strive for it. Be it through scripture, and prayer and worship, I genuinely want to spend more time with God in this upcoming year and the years to come.  I see the joy I get when I am filled with the Holy Spirit, the constant charge that is there when I am enveloped in His presence. I am motivated to reach out to another person and radically display who Jesus is all because of being in God’s presence.  As I am filled with the Spirit, walking as Jesus did becomes a more natural thing.  Living out my faith becomes something that just happens, not something I have to constantly be putting a conscious effort towards.  Most importantly, in all things I do, I give the glory back to God, not to myself.  But none of that happens on its own, as I have come to learn.

My attainable goal is going to be one time a week: one time a week that I spend with my Creator in silence and in scripture. A time during the week I will not miss and can yearn for and look forward to and set the stage for the rest of those seven days. A time that will leave me wanting more: more questions, more answers, more God. By doing this, I hope He will leave me encouraged to keep searching for more throughout the week.  Through it all, by slowing down, I will grow to know Jesus more, and in turn, my life will start to change from the inside out. I’ll start to live out the fruit of the spirit, and that’s a beautiful thing:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is this: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” ~Galatians 5:22-23

So slow down. Put forth a conscious effort with me to take a break from the business of life to be refilled by our God. Seeing these things be genuinely true in my life is a true check on if the Spirit is working in me, and when it is, there is no other response but to shout praises to our Lord.

565825_494718303883308_1511035050_nTrever Carter is a sophomore at Grayslake North High School. He enjoys running, playing lacrosse, and photography. He also likes to write, serve with the church, and spend time with his friends.

ICYouth: Relational God, Relational People

Every Friday, we’re taking a peek at how God is working in the lives of our high school students. These servants of Jesus are walking daily by faith as they navigate the hallways and relationships inside their school walls and beyond. Our weekly series will highlight what God is up to in their lives in their voices. Leave them some encouragement by commenting?

by Trever Carter

When I think of myself and the person that God has specifically and intentionally designed me to be, one character trait sticks out among the rest: I am extremely relational.

Like almost everybody else, I strive for genuine relationships, ones where I can find myself in deep spiritual conversation one minute, and laughing hysterically at something stupid the next. It’s really what everyone wants, right? It explains brokenness, and why we try to fill that with other things. But the answer is easy: because God built us to be relational. Throughout the past year, I am honestly humbled to see how God has used this trait in me, and I praise Him daily for those that He put into my life.

What frustrates me, on the contrary, is the idea of image: the way that we look at others, but more importantly, the harsh way that we critique ourselves. For me especially, I find vanity clouding my view and deadening the person that I am on the inside. More often than not, I find myself changing the person that I am on my constant quest for validation. That bugs me. I am bothered by the fact that sometimes I feel the need to alter myself around my very best friends, the ones that I go to with anything.

In Josh’s latest message of “Inside Out,” he explained that we should approach God vulnerably, with all of our mess, and all of our hurt, and be real. To me, this means approaching God with a heavy heart from burdens that I carry, from the circumstances I come, from the sin that lives in me daily! And in all honesty, that scares me—how am I supposed to kneel before God and tell Him all the things I have done wrong?

But honestly, that’s liberating. We do nothing to deserve God’s love, but it is there for the taking. Too often, the shame of my mistakes convinces me to put on a “holier-than-thou” mentality or the pressure of my friends at school causes me to dilute the faith in which I stand so firm. But when I go to sit in front of God on the day that He calls me home, He is going to look right past it all. The moments that we spend with our Creator are those in which we are most ourselves.

And this trickles down to our relationships here on Earth. Like all else, we are to model all aspects after the One Most High! And I see this in my friendships, how they are a living and breathing testament to Christ. When we model our relationships with one another after the one that we have with God the Father, they are going to and be fruitful and stand forever.

Being genuine has got to be one of the most important things in a friendship. We are all sinners saved by grace, and this leaves me so convicted! Instead of pushing my feelings and hurts down and down, I should be more than willing to go to my friends in Christ and share.

Share because they are there to listen.

Share because they are there to help.

And share because they are there to offer up encouragement.

My friendships in Christ are the strongest, healthiest relationships I have; we are all eternally minded, and it is so encouraging to know that I can be real with them, therefore making me more myself. We do not have to go through life alone, for Jesus walks with us and He gives us these friendships to push us forward.

Like iron sharpens iron, the love and encouragement from one Christian friend strengthens the other beyond belief. I think back to Matthew 7:24-27, where Jesus speaks of building on a solid foundation. Friendships built and centered around the rock that is Christ will not fail:

“The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against the house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.”

All other ground is sinking sand.

565825_494718303883308_1511035050_nTrever Carter is a sophomore at Grayslake North High School. He enjoys running, playing lacrosse, and photography. He also likes to write, serve with the church, and spend time with his friends.