I am highly skilled at getting things backward. The most stunningly ignorant and hilarious example I can think of in this category is when I thought the Fiddler on the Roof song “If I Was a Rich Man” was based on the Gwen Stefani song “Rich Girl”. Release dates aside, please come to your own conclusions here and here.
I’m sorry about that mistake, but probably not as much as I should be because it’s kind of funny.
Anyway, I got and continue to get a lot of my relationship with Christ backward too.
My dad and I have had a few conversations about how he and my mom intentionally didn’t force Christianity down my throat in an attempt to help me find faith on my own. I appreciated that a lot. It worked, in a way. But one time I let this sentence slip out of my mouth to my Young Life leader and knew the jig was up: “Honestly, my parents are there and I’ve had Sunday School teachers and stuff, but I really found Jesus on my own.”
If there is such a thing as holy belly laughter from God, I feel like it probably happened right then. A literal LOL from the God of the universe because HAHA I didn’t find Jesus on my own!!!
Jesus found me.
He never even lost me!
But the way I talked about it, you might think Jesus was that hidden gem of a coffee shop in your college town whose discovery was completely dependent on my willingness to explore “other parts of town”. I was the edgy risk-taker in finding Jesus, he was just waiting around to bless me. Or it was a game of hide and seek where I was searching and Jesus was hiding, waiting to jump out when I found him because the door was left open a little more than it should have been. I was doing the work, he was hanging out.
Lol. Yeeeeup. Jesus hanging out and me, the world-changer!
I held leadership positions in ministries throughout high school and realized that when I talked about Jesus’ role in my life, I was light on the “Jesus” and heavy on the “my life.” I began to realize that I was telling the story of my salvation backward when I took a rough inventory of how many times I said “I” in conversations about my relationship with Christ.
It is a lot.
I like to talk about how I was never forced into a relationship with Christ which was super awesome because then I could really make my faith my own. I found him through being drawn to places where I felt welcome. I loved church youth group and Young Life in high school. I loved my church friends and Young Life leaders in high school. I loved that Jesus was my constant, thank goodness I found him! If not, I don’t know what I would have done!
Never once did I think about talking about Jesus’ work in my life. How he had been working in it for years and years, even before I was born, fighting for my heart against Satan in holy ways to which my actions will never compare. Never once did I think about how this, in the grand scheme of things, is way more Jesus’ faith than my faith. Because people worshipping me would be sacrilegious but more importantly a hot mess-directionless-disaster combo.
I am so thankful that my life is a tiny part of a larger story, that the amount of years I live on this earth do not dictate the work God has done, is doing, or will do. Self-forgetfulness might be the greatest thing Jesus has ever taught me.
This life is not about my noble path to faith.
This life is about how Jesus has pursued my heart since before I came to college and began taking my relationship with him seriously. This is about how Jesus pursued my heart before I went to Young Life camp in high school, or before I accepted him as my Savior in junior high, or before I ever set foot in a Sunday School classroom. This is about how Jesus pursued my heart before I was born a little over twenty years ago.
This life is and will ever be about a Savior who lived a little over two thousand years ago, and how his teachings of Love and Mercy and Grace embodied practically require us to serve him and serve others in his name. He put God-sized dreams in my itty bitty wretched heart and billions and billions of itty bitty wretched hearts in so many precious creations across the world.
Jesus– I want to chase after any glimpse you’ll give of your glory. Your words pick me up and dust me off– I was dead in my sin and you said no. You made me a story of your salvation, to glorify you forevermore. Abba, I can’t thank you enough!