I did not come to know Christ until I was 23; and I did not declare Him LORD of my life until I was 25. Since I was about two decades ‘behind’, it meant I had to get my hands on every piece of literature that was out there. Really catch up! I religiously (ha, no pun intended, but love that) began devouring books, podcasts, bible commentary and exploring different translations so that I could have the conversations that included the churchy-lingo that was so foreign to me. I wanted to know Him so bad, but my lightning fast speed had me on more of a sprint than a marathon.
However, in all of my own strength I was getting pretty good at getting to know the religion, but was completely bypassing the relationship.
Oh you know, the part of the formula that Jesus is most interested in?! I clearly remember one time sitting on my couch talking to a girlfriend on the phone while watching my three children play (who are Irish triplets, and at the time were all under two years old) and was panicking at the idea that they had been living a lie their entire 1.5 year existence because I had put “from Santa” on their Christmas packages the month before. If I was to be pursuing a life with a heart after Jesus and modeling what a disciple looks like for my tiny arrows, why on earth would I be ok with lying to them about magical characters delivering gifts, and rabbits that lay eggs with candy in them? Disclaimer: We still do not celebrate such things. However, the place from which we operate is ENTIRELY different than where I was at this time.
As I was on the holy prowl, with my checklist in hand, I was devouring things along the way; and I intentionally use the word devour. One definition of the word devour reads: to consume destructively. Remember when I said I was so focused on the religion? There was no Jesus in the way I attempted to evangelize; and my family was no exception. My husband was a little slower to come to terms with who Jesus is. What Christianity meant, his purpose in God’s plan… It was during this time that I planned to be so full of the Holy Spirit that every time Colin even looked at me he would “catch it.” That is right, just catch all of my Christianity. You can read about this in greater depth in a later post that is plum full of the ugly details. Regardless, I just made the decision that I was going to help the LORD by just handling this one myself. Since I was clearly “good” at running this race (and Colin was still lacing up) I would just start running FOR him. Again, not with Colin- but for Colin.
One time I came home from a Sunday morning service just full of fury. I was certain this was a holy-fire burning inside, but retrospectively I am embarrassed to recognize that this was more of a proud, self-reliant, mission. Colin had slept in that morning instead of accompanying us at church, and I was carrying the twin toddlers into the house (while wrangling our third who was still in the pumpkin seat). The entire time I was just ruminating on how much I could accomplish in the hours ahead. In short, the message that day was all about what we feed our minds and how it impacts our hearts. We talked about television, movies, music etc. I was certain that THIS was an area I had yet to check off my becoming-a-Christian checklist, and one that I was sure the LORD was asking me just to go ahead and clean up for Colin while I was at. I came home and one by one I am just packing up years of DVD’s, fine tooth combing our cars for any and all cd’s (2Pac, Lil Wayne and Busta didn’t make the cut), cases, pictures or anything of the like that could be poisoning our minds. I’ll never forget Colin’s response (as I am sure he thought I’d officially lost my mind this time) and he said “what exactly are you doing??” I explained to him I was doing him a favor by ridding his world of all things toxic to his spiritual growth. He responded, “you need to stop throwing my stuff away right now, and what spiritual growth?” MY stuff? No, no kind sir this is actually the LORD’s ‘stuff’ and it is out of here! It was then, he was very firm and said, “if you want to go throwing your stuff away that is fine. But please leave the things that I like right where they are. Just because you believe that, does not mean I do.” Insert: My sincerest apology to our home church for the picture I was painting for onlookers of what the teachings were; what the heart of the church was (and still is). Thankful for your grace. I was so angry. Furious may even be more appropriate. Now how could he be so hardened that he would not even let me transform his heart? That he would not even let me show him what he was missing? Had he only been in that Sunday service instead of sleeping he would get it! I wish I could say I saw all of the lies and immaturity housed in this time of my life, but it truthfully was closer to a year or more before I understood. Before I understood that Colin’s heart change was not up to me. That God was in the business of renewing hearts and minds, and had been doing a pretty good job all of these years. That I was trying to play mini Jesus. She-sus is what I call it sometimes. The representation I was giving Colin, my husband, of Jesus was a terrible imitation; a perverted version of what Christ-like love looks and lives like. Colin’s salvation was never up to me; no one’s was. If it were, why on earth would we even need Jesus in the first place?
Like I mentioned, it took awhile for me in those early years to truly understand what it meant to seek Jesus. To seek to know Him. To pray prayers of knowing His heart. Of learning to pray His will over mine. Of ditching my checklists and trading them for learning to walk in the light of Christ. To abide. Realizing that on my own, I was in fact capable of doing good things, but it was only with the holy spirit guiding me that I would be able to do the hard and holy things.
I am sure you are wondering what on earth became of Colin. Well its truly by the grace of God that He came to know the LORD, and accepted him to be the LORD of His life. We stayed at our home church where he became connected with other likeminded men who have walked with and disciple him so well. We just celebrated our tenth Easter with our church family! He has grown in the way he leads our family with a Christ centeredness, and participates in/leads several small groups. The LORD also revealed to him his spiritual gift of service, and Colin has had a heart for missions that has taken him places spiritually, physically and emotionally that are incredible. He knows the LORD because He made the decision to seek. As for the cd’s, somewhere along the line he pitched them himself. I cannot remember the last time I hopped in his car and anything but Christian radio was on. He sings hymns in the kitchen, and dances with our girls to them. This is the power of Christ in him.
As for me… well the LORD was ever so patient to teach me what it meant to be a wife that prays. Praying for my husband. Praying in the dark, quiet corners. Trusting that the LORD has brought us together to fulfill a great purpose. That work is being done individually on our hearts, but ultimately we are one. One in vision. He still works with my road runner speed, often challenging me with seasons of waiting. Helping grow me not in patience alone, but also trust in Him and His perfect timing.
My prayer for any of you, wherever you are on your walk is that you are able to love yourself and others exactly where you/they are. Not when you are a little bit ‘better’, or when you are able to be a little more ‘Christian’ or ‘acceptable.’ Rather exactly where you are; because that’s where God is waiting to meet you; in reality.