Sitting in my car as I write this, I look at the tassel hanging from my rear-view mirror. The golden “18” glimmers in the sun’s rising rays. The maroon strings wave back and forth as I move my hand through it – wondering how I possibly made it this far because, for some reason, this entire year of school, I was convinced I would die before making it to commencement. But look at this, the day has arrived, and I am not even excited. Just, here. It’s the weirdest thing because it seems as if this always is the case. Constantly in this state of not believing I’ve actually made it. A state of shock, almost, but it is also very different than shock.
Overwhelming – that is life, like, literally all the time.
Constantly having these surreal experiences that just come with simply being alive – and it is so, so weird.
Half the time, I feel like this isn’t even my life – like I’m in some sort of strange movie, but as I move my left hand over to my right arm and pinch myself, I feel it, and I am very much alive and living here in this unexplainably, fantastic world.
I bring this up today specifically because this is a milestone day: graduation. It has arrived – the world is out there, and we are about to go into it on our own and figure out just what it means to learn who we are. After we walk out of that arena tonight, some people will spend the rest of their lives chasing money. Some will spend the rest of their lives chasing a shadow of happiness that cannot be found in this world’s façade of fulfillment. Some will spend the rest of their lives struggling with addiction. Some will spend the rest of their lives building a family or a legacy.
Then there’s me. What am I going to spend the rest of my life doing?
As a graduate, you get asked that every five seconds. I just picked up a coffee (actually it’s a chai tea because I don’t actually drink coffee), and the barista asked me what my plans are next. Literally four times a day, for an entire year and a half, this question has peppered my social life. And yes, I answered with my potential major, career paths, the usual – but that’s not what I’m going to be doing with the rest of my life. I’m going to be building something much greater, much more lasting, if I make it so, than a simple job.
I will be creating an identity, so to speak – how will people react when they hear my name? What will they think of? Who will they think of? What do I want to be remembered for?
I’ve decided that one thing matters in regard to this question – that is, God. However, as much as my mind may think, in all of its infinite wisdom, that God is the one thing that matters, it doesn’t matter at all if I haven’t acted as such. When people hear my name, I want them to react – whether with hatred, love, or discomfort – because I make them think of Jesus.
This is a fabulous idea in theory. But to actually allow Holy Spirit to move and work in such a way that Jesus becomes my reputation is terrifying because there is potential for “crazy” to be a descriptive word used within the context of my name.
But on Sunday, I was shown something that perfectly addressed this – Pastor Jordan Verner was speaking about the ways in which, even in the Church, people can be given a reputation that ostracizes for being really in love with Jesus, but then he said this: “I never wanted to be the ‘crazy’ guy, but I don’t care anymore because I just need more of You.”
“What a person believes about God is the most important thing about a person” (AW Tozer) because “Who we believe God to be will dictate everything in our lives” (Jordan Verner).
If I’m not acting like God is the most important thing in my life, what am I really saying? Because, to believe is to “act as if it is so”, so what am I saying when I recoil at “acting as if it is so”? I think that’s something the Church does a lot. As long as you say, “I believe this”, you don’t actually have to live it – but that is the very definition of belief – to live what you are convicted of – because you can be convicted of something without actually acting on that conviction.
“…if what you call ‘faith’ in Christ does not involve taking the slightest notice of what He says, then it is not Faith at all–not faith or trust in Him, but only intellectual acceptance of some theory about Him.” (C.S. Lewis)
My greatest fear is to live in such a way that people do not see Jesus in me – but sometimes I wonder if that truly is my greatest fear because I tend to act much more out of fear that I won’t be accepted than out of passionate adoration of the God who deserves it all. Not that I should be living in fear of not being good enough, that is not the idea. The idea is that I ought to revere God so much so that I live in constant awe of His unending power which moves me to do what He says and live what I am convicted of because He is so good and so exactly everything I’ll ever need.
But when I’m standing before the Lamb as the Lion, I don’t want to say how much studying I did or how many apologetics conversations I had, or how often I thought about God, all things that I absolutely love; I want to know Him. I want to be so, so in love with Him in that moment. I want to say how excited I am to see Him face to face, as I have never seen Him before, and did He love my worship as much as I did (and I know He will say He loved it more because He knows how to delight in His kids so much better than I know how to delight in Him). I want to get to know Him as deeply as possible on Earth so that when we are standing face to face, I can get to know Him in a more eternal way – I don’t want to have to wait to grow in deeper relationship with my Father in eternity because I was too afraid to grow to the extent of which I can with Him here and now. The rest of eternity is designed for us to get to know God more, and this most wonderful, perfect, sovereign, beautiful God died for us, and we are afraid of being thought of as rather odd.
But here is the beautiful truth: “My God is so big, so strong and so mighty, there’s nothing my God cannot do.”
We fail to remember how big our God is. We fail to remember how powerful our God is. We fail to remember just how good our God is.
We complain that God isn’t doing miracles anymore – but, let me ask you something, have you ever prayed for one? Have you ever laid hands on someone and prayed for healing? Have you ever asked the Lord to intercede and actually believed that He would? We are conduits of the work of the Father, and we complain that He isn’t doing anything. No, God is doing plenty – we just aren’t seeing what He is doing because we aren’t listening to Holy Spirit’s promptings to move in His mighty power. That offers quite the change of perspective, huh? Because He is moving everywhere.
I don’t write this to make anyone feel like they’re failing or falling short. We will fail and we will fall short because we are people, and there is so much grace for that. However, I am saying this to remind you that there is power in the Light that we carry. It is scary, and it may take a while to learn what it looks like to embrace our callings as believers on a deeper level, but ask our marvelous God for courage, peace, boldness, faith, hope, an awareness of His presence – He will give it to you. “So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.” (Matthew 7:11)
C.S. Lewis says this about actually living out what you are convicted of as truth, “Christianity… leads you… into something beyond. One has a glimpse of a country where they do not talk of those things [duties, rules, guilt, and virtue]… Every one there is filled full with what we should call goodness as a mirror is filled with light. But they do not call it goodness. They do not call it anything. They are not thinking of it. They are too busy looking at the source from which is comes. But this is near the stage where the road passes over the rim of our world.”
We are called to live in such a way that Holy Spirit is expressed through us – rather, we are called to let Holy Spirit express Himself through us. But there will be no perfect expression of God through man (apart from that of Jesus) until we are in perfect relationship with Him in eternity. But there can still be expression.
It is hard; it is a process, and I am in it.
Confession: I have trouble praying for people in public – in fact, I can’t even remember the last time I did because I am so afraid of being rejected, even by strangers.
But God is faithful, and He is challenging me to be aware of Holy Spirit, Himself, within my own spirit, to hear the steps He wants me to take to love people and show Him to them.
“When the Spirit of God manifests, there will be conviction, and you only have 2 options – submit and obey or recoil.” (Jordan Verner)
I will spend the rest of my life chasing the Really Real (as one professor puts it), Jesus, God of my everyday. I will walk out of that arena tonight, completely struck with the reality of love covering me from the King. This is how I will walk out – with His name on my lips – because I want to be remembered by one thing and one thing alone – Him.
Walk with me, in full confidence that God is doing a great work. Let’s be a part of this because He is moving – He is mightier and bigger than you ever imagined.
“Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to Him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21)
(I finished writing this, and literally immediately was prompted to pray for two people (one person I know and one I don’t), and Holy Spirit instilled greater courage within me, and I did. Because, I realized, if I’m going to write about this, I need to live it. And you know, there were no tears or intense baptisms of Holy Spirit on their lives – but there was obedience; there was encouragement; there was a step taken closer to greater intimacy with God. They were short prayers, but I got to talk to talk to my Dad about other people He loves, and what an honor it is to be able to make people more aware of His presence, whether they already know of it or not.)