When I was 14, I remember riding in the passenger seat of our family mini-van, looking out the window on a bright summer day. I turned to my mom and said, “One day, I’m going to do something big for God. I don’t know what it is, and I don’t know how, but it’s going to be big.”
The conviction in my heart was so strong. If I could have grabbed my mom’s head between both of my hands and downloaded the knowing that I had straight into her being I would have. Because I didn’t want to just talk. I hesitated to tell her because what if that’s what it was? Just fourteen-year-old talk?
Understand that I had not just returned from summer camp or had some experience where I saw Jesus flashing like a neon sign. I just knew. But what I didn’t know was what “big” looked like because what people consider “big” is not usually what God considers big. But I was willing to do whatever it took to get there and I was okay with whatever it ended up looking like. Even then I had a sense that God could do miraculous things with a life that is radically surrendered to Him.
And here I am 16 years later. Married to an incredible man with two beautiful daughters and every day I am faced with choices. My life looks a whole lot like anyone else’s. But I still have that conviction. You know, the one that says with Jesus I can actually make a difference.
And then there is that nagging voice in the back of my head that says someone else can do it better, say it better, all the while looking better than me. And there are all the other voices (there are a lot of voices these days; a lot of opinions). There’s a lot of, “Hey, I have something to say and I ain’t afraid to say it” going on. And quite frankly, I’m afraid, afraid of getting lost in the shuffle, of being just another voice, an annoying voice, at that.
I believe there are a lot of people who are actually trying to figure this whole “how do I interact with culture as a Christ follower” thing out. And believe me, I’m just as stumped as you are. The Bible has a lot to say about “being in the world, but not of it” but how do we apply it to our daily lives? I think we’ve tried rules. I think we’ve tried boundaries. I think we’ve tried to rationalize, compartmentalize, nominalize, accept, reject, neglect, define, and redefine and then redefine again what all this looks like and honestly, we're starting to look like fools. But not fools for Christ’s sake. Just fools.
Somewhere along the line talking about having a relationship with God became normalized. Like, that’s just how you do it. “It’s not rules, it’s relationship”. But I’m not sure we’re even getting that right. I think it’s just become something we say and we think we’ve got it down because God gave us a warm fuzzy feeling one time, or we “got something” out of a verse from the Bible, or we’ve even grown up in church and we’ve had these kinds of things happen to us all our lives. We think we have a relationship with God because we have a quiet time or when we think about Him we smile because, golly, everything is going to be alright.
Humans are funny. Once we’ve been around the block a couple times we think we’ve got it. Like, we know how this whole thing works. We could probably write a book, a blog (irony), or a short sentence based on what we’ve “learned”. I certainly hope that’s not what I’m trying to do, but I’m willing to admit that maybe it is. (Just so you know, writing is the way I process, and my process usually isn’t pretty. I don’t think many people’s “process” is very pretty but that’s what makes it great.)
I have wanted to give up on what God is calling me to more times than I can count over the years, especially in the past 2 years. And then I remember the 14-year-old girl that only saw possibility. Sometimes we’ve just got to keep telling ourselves, “Don’t give up” and then one day we build on that and say, “Let’s move forward” and then, “Let’s start dreaming again”.
You might be wondering what I’m trying to say. So here it is:
God is real.
He is a real, supernatural, operates-outside-of-the-boundaries-of-our-reasoning, God.
The version of Him that we propagate is usually counterfeit at best, a mere shadow. Because shadows are safe, a god we can understand is safe and not offensive.
I’ve noticed a lot of people voicing their opinions about how people think Christians should treat others, and how the church needs to clean up her act because no one likes her anymore, and about what Jesus would do in this or that situation.
I am tired of it. Just exhausted. Not that those things are wrong per se, but we are talking so much about things that come after. After having an encounter with the living God, after recognizing our own inadequacy, after being supernaturally transformed, and after trusting Him completely no matter what the cost. And we’re saying, “No, wait a second. I think I’ve got it” when we have NO IDEA. Because we’ve forgotten that God is real, active, and has something to say so maybe we should all just shut up for a minute and listen. And then maybe if we start listening, then we’ll start changing; we’ll start looking more like Jesus because we’ve been with Him, not because we think we’ve figured Him out.
Like Peter in Acts 4, I want people to look at my life and see the quirky and messy and have them be amazed, because only Jesus could do anything worthwhile with all of this. I want them to look at me and leave saying, “That could only be Jesus”.
I want something that is real. Because when I see something that is real, true, and authentic, then I don’t care how dangerous or risky it may seem, I just want to know more. I see a world that wants the same. Honestly, they usually don’t have the best example of what that looks like, and I am willing to take part in the blame. When I think about my 14-year-old-self, I see a girl who knew that God was not only real, but that He operated outside of the realm of my understanding; and that sounded like an adventure.
What is this life worth unless lived completely abandoned to Him?
For me, nothing.
I’ve tried to play it safe and have even looked the part, but after a while you start to lose yourself to a watered down version of who God created you to be. You may not have come to the same conclusion and that’s okay. I just want you to know where I stand. Because one day I’m going to do something big for God. I don’t know what it is, and I don’t know how, but there is absolutely no reason that I can’t start right now.
And there's no reason you can't either.
Tweet this - "We’ve got to keep telling ourselves, 'Don’t give up' and then say, 'Let’s move forward,' and then, 'Let’s start dreaming again'."
Tweet this - "We’ve forgotten that God is real, active, and has something to say...maybe we should all just shut up for a minute and listen."