God does not distance himself from us. We choose our distance.
This entire summer I have had this calling to go all in. To completely give everything up to God. To make that be what my life is completely about. To do ministry 24/7. To be a glowing image of Christ.
Wouldn’t you know it that this has been the hardest summer ever to even try and do that. This summer has been hard. Really hard. And not because I’ve been trying to go all in. But because everything has been thrown at me to keep me from doing that. Pain, Heartbreak, Jealousy, Temptation, Anger, Hatred. To put it quite simple, I have felt attacked.
Why is it whenever you feel so sure that you are supposed to do something all these things get in your way?
Is it God testing how committed you are to something? Or is the devil using his every interference to keep you from what God wants you to do?
This summer I have felt like it’s the latter. I say that because I’ve felt it before.
I’ll have this profound certainty to do something and then BAM everything crumbles. The Devil is a manipulative being. And knows exactly how to thwart situations that will cause you to stumble. It’s like this tug-o-war between God and Satan and I am the ribbon in the middle. The problem for us as these pathetic humans is it’s so much easier to do the easier thing we know isn’t right than that hard challenging thing that we know we are so desperately supposed to do. We take the easier way out and suffer.
Following God completely is not easy. In fact it is the hardest decision I imagine possible to make. But it IS possible.
It’s not that God isn’t winning the battle. It’s that I’m losing it for him.
I’m now going to compare myself to Harry Potter.
For the longest time I have felt like my friendships were the strongest part of my life. I had many and in my life they were the most important (worldly) thing. This summer I have felt like that’s where I have been targeted most. The most important thing to me was turned on it’s head. I have greatly struggled with some of my most favored friends causing me to be…quite pitiful.
I began to not feel quite alone but less supported than before. It wasn’t as easy to fight back while going through the pain caused by my friends. Every time I would feel this strong calling to go all in I would go for it and not soon after would have something else happen with friends that would just send me right back. I hear about something or learn something new and it would just put me right back to the distance I was creating between me and God.
But in my heartbreak I discovered something divine.
I was reading another book by Rob Bell and in it he had a quote that changed my negative outlook on all my situations.
” If you have ever given yourself to someone and had your heart broken, you know how God feels… There is something divine in your sufferings.”
That blew my mind. Such a simple thought but something never laid out quite so plainly to me. So much pain was lifted by so few words.
Last week I met with a friend who no longer lives here. Every time she’s home we catch up on life. The friendship we have is rare. The friendship we have is beautiful. In ways I consider her my most valuable friend. I do that for one simple reason. God is the exact central core of our relationship. When we meet we talk about what God is doing with our lives. This time something funny happened.
We were going through almost identical struggles. We sat for about two hours and just talked about where we were with our faith and where we felt like God was pulling us. And they were creepy similar. The healthiest conversation of my entire summer. Rarely do I hang out with somebody and leave saying “that was nothing but good.” It was like a spark went off that made me feel so alive. I was excited for so many things. It was this glimpse of what real friendship should be like. What God intended relationships to be like.
So much emphasis is put on putting God at the center of a Boyfriend, Girlfriend relationship, but not so much on just friendship.
After our conversation I drove home wanting more. More friendships like THAT. More conversations like THAT. It was a glimpse of where I wanted to be with people. So healthy and so alive.
The most important question we can ask our friends: “Well where are you with your faith?” or “How are you doing with your walk with Christ?”
But dude that can be a rocky question for some. And we can convince ourselves that it’s not a question for everyone but man, I think that is so wrong.
My family hosted a dinner for the Bishop of Kenya about a year ago. YEAH, BIG DEAL.
My parents asked me to go pick him up from a house he was staying at. I picked him up and he asked if we could stop by Walmart to pick up a piece for his diabetes machine. We had trouble finding one so we asked a clerk to help us. She walked around the store and found what we were looking for. The bishop very smiley and full of happines and thankfulness looked at her and said something that blew my mind. He looked at this complete stranger that he had never met or had any previous encounter with and said
“Are you saved?”
She laughed and then dodged the question. He grabbed her hand in the most loving fashion looked her right in the eyes and said
“I will pray for you.”
I will never forget that evening with that man. He did something that we all see as very uncomfortable conversation. But he had no shame in it. No sense of feeling like he was out of line. He said it with pure comfort and love.
I want that.
I drove home after that conversation I had with my friend not wanting this Godly feeling to go away. So I plugged my Ipod in and BLASTED some Christian music. It was a cheer for life. A life to be lived. I had spent so much of my summer living in the dark. Feeling sorry for myself. Letting pain, heartbreak, jealousy, temptation, anger, and hatred get in the way of what God was calling me to do. Letting the devil beat me up and make me feel weak. Making me feel distant. Making me feel dead.
I will fight. I’m done living in my pain. I am a leader for Christ. And I will pursue him till my last breath.
I headed across town that night singing at the top of my lungs. I went to my friend Jamie’s house and had to share the beauty of what I just experienced. That night I had another conversation that lasted about an hour about how God can use us in certain social groups that others see as just dark, corrupting environments. Places where many christians turn their backs on. Places like Sororities, Fraternities, Ghettos, even Parties.
THAT IS WHERE GOD WANTS US TO GO!!!!!! We talked about “What good is it for Christians to all be in one big glory group and ministering to only each other!?” BRANCH OUT! Go to those dark places. Share the light.
In my night of conversations I felt what God wanted me to feel. That strong calling was right in my face. The glimpse of how he wanted me to live.
This semester I’m going to challenge myself. To fight against the obstacles that evil puts in my way. Now that I have seen what it will take of me I know that the challenge will be that much harder. It’s just how the devil operates.
The greatest compliment I’ve ever been given is the pain I experienced this summer.
Thank you evil for telling me I am a threat.
You are dang right I am a threat. No more will I flood myself in my problems. I give them to God and I trust him to fix them in his timing. I know that won’t be an easy thing but I am swearing right now that I am committed to it. So here’s to the challenges ahead.
I’m going all in.
“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that the suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”