I pity the fool who likes to read arcane, esoteric, academic papers.

There is no quicker way to make me feel stupid then to force me to read a handout that I have to wrestle with in order to understand. 

My name is not Israel for a reason, I am not about that struggle life.

Reading for me is a comfort. Reading is leisure, something I could hypothetically do with my eyes closed.
There should be no work involved, no muscle needed.

Reading is what IKEA's ready-to-assemble furniture should be: easy and sweat-less.

Why should I have a dictionary, thesaurus and Google nearby in order to understand a paper? And a hard-hat in case I choose to hit my head against a hard surface repeatedly?

I am no active reader. Highlighters and pens are foreign to me while reading because usually, and ideally, the author should be doing the work and making sure that what needs to be gathered is easily painted inside my head.

But at school, we have to put our thinking caps on. We have to dig in deeper and beyond the surface. We have to analyze and break things down in order to comprehend.

It's like an excavation and the shiny pebbles I'm able to extricate from the deadly clutches of the paper pale in comparison to the diamonds my peers find through their close reading.

I always come up short and when I look around, I see that I am so behind compared to those around me. While they're on the tenth page, I'm still trying to find my way out of the second page, leaving me to feel so incompetent, so out place that I sometimes talk myself into not trying in the first place.

I easily quit because I don't feel as if I belong.

And the same can be said of my spiritual life.

All around me are these giants of faith, fired up for God for years, if not decades, and here I am, a baby who contributes nothing but a dirty diaper after drinking milk all day.

Where am I needed? Where can I make a difference? Do I even matter? Do I belong here?

It is too easy to decrease your value and worth when you keep your eyes on those around you.

Of course it looks like they got it all together, that's what they want you to see! They are not letting you behind the scenes when it is much more glamorous and flattering for themselves to blind you with the highlight reels. But don't allow them to fool you; they go through the same messes, same insecurities, same troubles that you do. They just wear a lot of cover-up.

So we must refocus our eyes onto the author and finisher of our faith, Jesus!

He is the only standard that we should hold ourselves up to because He gives us the grace each and every day to continue growing into who He has made us to be.

And how do we learn who we are in order to become it?

By reading the Word; however, we have to come to a point where we stop reading the Bible as if it applies to someone else and start living it as it was meant to be: for you and for me.

The Bible is personal; it applies to all of us and once we realize that truth, it will become much easier to walk out our faith like giants.

All throughout the Scriptures, a sense of belonging (rightly placed in a specified position) can be found.
Therefore put on the full armor of God so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm. Ephesians 6:13-14
The only way you can stand is by knowing that you have every right to be in the space that you are occupying. God gives you the authority to stand where you are right now. This is a defense stance. You are not advancing onto another's territory. You're not attacking someone's stronghold. The devil is bringing the fight to you. He's trying to steal your dominion but if you pray, if you keep the faith and if you shoot down his lies, you will win. This is your territory, your terrain. You have the advantage because you belong!
I will give you every place that you set your foot, as I promised... Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid. Do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:3, 9
Think about it: why would God in the same breath say I will do this for you but do not be afraid? Why would you fear if you knew that God always delivers? Because God knows and you soon realize that your circumstances try to pervert His truth, try to make it seem like it will be impossible to see His promises fulfilled. The world will try to steal your joy, try to convince you that you do not belong but that is a lie. God is directing your steps. He is making a way for you, no matter what it looks like. You belong!
Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 1 Corinthians 12:27
This whole chapter is a validation of you. Your gifts, your talents, your thoughts, everything that makes up you is valuable and precious and needed in this world. That is why God created you: He has a purpose for you that only you can complete. You belong!

Therefore don't allow any situation to persuade you otherwise. You are made for a purpose by purpose and if you just stay in the Word and apply it to your life, you will realize what He has already seen in you: You are His and you belong always and forever!!!

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