Today, Lina speaks to us about being all in with Christ, lessons from C.S. Lewis, walking the narrow path and Godly perspective.
Tell us a bit about how you grew up and your childhood: I was raised in a Christian household. My childhood was quite unusual. Both of my parents served in Ukraine, doing missionary work and evangelism. So, ministering, proclaiming the truth, serving others, were some of the things that had engraved in me at a very early age.
Inspiring biblical passage of the moment: “Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.” Deuteronomy 31:8 / John 16:3 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” These verses always have put me back into focus and have anchored me through life.
Spiritual growth focus at the moment: This life is short and there are many ways to squander it, but only one way to redeem it, love Jesus with your whole life, and love Him above all else. It really is a straight and narrow path and the road that leads to destruction is broad and many go down it. Yet it is not as difficult to find as it is to maintain. By the grace of God, we are shown the narrow path. But the nature of temptation is to lead us away from it. If I can learn nothing else from this season, I want to learn this ultimate lesson: “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain!” (Phil. 1:21).
“This life is short and there are many ways to squander it, but only one way to redeem it, love Jesus with your whole life, and love Him above all else.”
Profession: Illustrator and Photographer
When did you first encounter God and how did you encounter Him? As a child, I used to have a real heart for God. I had made up my mind, I wanted to become a missionary and tell people about God! Over the years however, many things became hard. So I would cover it with busyness, school, ministry, anything to stay behind the scenes. What if all I want is a small, slow, simple life? What if I am most happy in the space of in between? Where calm lives. What if I am mediocre and choose to be at peace with that? God however did not give up on me.
He had a plan with my life, although I had no idea… A few months later I had an incredible experience with God. I was listening to Christian music and suddenly I became aware of the tender purity I heard in the voices of the singers. They were themselves, pure, innocent, real, raw. At that moment, it dawned on me that I had become too independent and tough. I had built a thick wall around myself, created a comfort zone. But this had become a false identity.
That very moment, I encountered God in a way I can’t really describe. I felt God come over me, with a majesty that is too incredible for words. His glory and eternal greatness seemed literally endless… It was as if I saw the universe itself and God who was even greater. God showed His indescribable majesty and greatness to me, and at the same time embraced me in His arms of amazing love. My harness fell off of me, and I became myself again, a child of God. From that day on, I knew that God is real, very real. It became my burning desire to show the world that God is not an illusion, but the most beautiful reality there is.
How has your relationship with Him changed you? Walking and having a relationship with God has transformed me various ways. Once you’re in a relationship with HIM, The transformation starts from the heart. God extends great love and compassion toward our souls. Your relationship with God is what defines you most. If He’s a part of your life, then He’s also a part of your marriage, your friendships, your random encounters with strangers and every other relationship the world uses to define you. When we realize He has time for each of us, patience for each of us and genuinely loves us the same, we should find time to reciprocate that love in return. When I value people for who they are and not what they do for me, I begin to see them as God does. When I know the people in our lives are meant to be loved, served and valued, I begin to see how God loves, serves and values us.
“Your relationship with God is what defines you most.”
What has helped you grow spiritually in this season? What helps me grow spiritually is having that remembrance of what He has done personally in my life and for the whole world. There’s no more powerful way to live than to live completely sold out, committed to Christ and that doesn’t mean more “religious.” It means more changed into the image of Christ.
Just read/currently reading (and what has it taught you?): A Grief Observed by C.S Lewis. Lewis, who turned to Christianity later in life and was, by all accounts, a very dedicated and faithful Christian, was tormented by what reads as a sense of betrayal in the early pages of this memoir. He writes: “Of course it’s easy enough to say that God seems absent at our greatest need because He is absent non-existent. But then why does He seem so present, when, to put it quite frankly, we don’t ask for Him?” Lewis that he was able to connect with his faith again. He found some light in the midst of his profound darkness which I found truly hopeful and even familiar. It taught me that He is with you through it all.
Top three essentials: A good pair of Tevas. Hands down for delicious guava flavored kombucha. Cant live without my favorite illustration ink pen.
How did God speak to you recently? If you know me, I LOVE listening to good jams. Perhaps one of the ways I can sense God’s presence the most and hear His voice the best is when I am praising Him through music. Praise brings me instantly to attention, the words and the notes bring a soothing comfort, excitement, and passion that open my ears and heart.
“Perhaps one of the ways I can sense God’s presence the most and hear His voice the best is when I am praising Him through music.”
Hobby: I enjoy literally any active outdoor activity, photography, and designing.
Top three practical tips for staying spiritually strong:
– Join a Godly community that will mentor you, pray for you, hold you accountable.
– Speak words of blessing. Speak words that will uplift, encourage, hearten, and bless other people.
– Meditate on Scripture. The Bible is packed with verses of comfort, encouragement, and wisdom. Make it a habit to read and study your Bible in a regular, disciplined way. Highlight verses that speak to you. Memorize some of the passages so you can recall them from memory at a future time
Favorite person in scripture? Moses because he was more of an introvert but with God’s guidance, he accomplished bold purposes. It was very courageous and humbling of him to put himself aside and saying yes to God’s call.
What do you want people to learn about God when they look at you? Accepted and cherished. I want them to fully open their eyes to see the lies that they were blinded to before. Open their ears to hear what God truly thinks about them. See that God is ready anytime to heal and restore the brokenness .
How do you engage with your community? I engage in my community through going to my church and being available to help out with any ministry in need. I also enjoy providing an open atmosphere for teen girls by sharing devotions, word of encouragement, and sharing how God really transforms hearts.
Favorite holiday? My favorite holiday is Christmas. I love when there’s abundant gatherings, amazing cuisines, and the joy it spreads!
A goal you have? A small goal I set during quarantine was to dive into books and more books!
A special tradition you and your family engage in or keep: Homemade Chinese Fried Rice and Russian Blinchiki at least during the week!
Question you will ask when you get to heaven? I had a running list of questions I wanted answered. But now that I think about it, I think when we encounter Him, we will understand more than we understand now, and I think we will be able to comprehend how He made good out of all things for those who loved Him and were called according to His purpose (Rom 8:28).
Thing you want to raise awareness about: Reports about the persecution of Christians rarely make the headlines, yet the individual voices of the suffering Church are compelling, courageous and often inspirational. Data on religious persecution isn’t easy to gather, track or interpret. Awareness about it is growing, but overall, there’s still a staggering amount of people who don’t realize this is going on.
“Reports about the persecution of Christians rarely make the headlines, yet the individual voices of the suffering Church are compelling, courageous and often inspirational.”
What does your morning routine consist of? My morning routine is consistently CHANGING! But the ideal morning would be: wake up before the sun rises, drink sweetened peach tea, and write a to do list to start the day!
Define Christianity in a sentence: Sharing His love to others.
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Until next time, keep witnessing!