The physics behind a tire going from zero to one hundred and fifty and back to zero in a split second still boggles my mind, if the physics is even correct; but that wasn’t on my mind as I headed south toward Louisville, Kentucky. The cargo hold of the gloss black minivan remained free from usual packs, ropes, tents and the coveted trad climber rack full of clanging slings and cams, hexes, and nuts as we deviated from our routine path to the Red River Gorge at Interstate 71. It was simply two duffels this trip—one for me and my bride and the other belonging to our pastor. Passing more Waffle House’s than could possibly be healthy for any one person to fathom, we set our course south past Louisville in order to guide our family Town & Country rocket ship toward Alabama. What the heck is in Alabama besides the best sweet tea and fried chicken you could only dream of? Training. We all could use some more training to hone our skills and make us better communicators to impact the world around us, and now it was our time.
To be perfectly honest, if you’ve been a Christian for any length of time and have attended conferences, revivals, worship concerts, camps or anything else that fires you up in your walk with God, you are almost always left with this message, “Pray and read your Bible… then you will get closer to the Lord.” Attitude is difficult to put in print, but with eyes rolled back and to the right, with a slight nod of the head to the left, then back to the right like a crashing bobsled in turn five running in super slow motion, I thought to myself—if this is the same thing as every other conference, I’m going to be a little frustrated. My fear of making this ten-and-a-half-hour drive was that I would walk away with the same conviction that I need to get up earlier, read my Bible more consistently and pray more intentionally. It’s the anthem of our westernized Christianity and it’s not wrong. Our faith journey begins with an introduction to our Savior and should reflect the beautiful birth of a personal relationship with the Creator of the expanse of outer space, to the depth of the microscopic nature of every living organism. As in every healthy relationship, good communication is paramount, hence the message remains valid. However, if we are doing these things, growing in our walk, then obedience to Jesus’s command to “go and make disciples” should be impacting the world. We all have a story to share, God has a story He has shared and now I’m going to share mine.
Having grown up in church it was easy for me to call myself a Christian, pray when I was supposed to pray, read my Bible when I was supposed to read my Bible, get shushed when it was appropriate for me to get shushed… I believed in Jesus from a young age, saving faith I would say, but I also lived a good life—never really getting in trouble, obeying my parents, doing all my homework. “What’s wrong with that” you might ask? Nothing, unless you are looking at the world around you with a twinge of smugness… my pride was growing some pretty deep roots even from a young age. Thanks be to God that He didn’t leave me there! Nineth grade camp (the kind that say to read your Bible and pray more) there was a message that challenged me to do something about my decision to follow Jesus Christ. That night I did. I said I was all in. Sorry to say that every ounce of pride did not exit my soul in a moment’s notice, nor did I know everything about my future on the spot. But I was confident that God had a plan, would be faithful to that plan and I could rest upon the truth that I read in His Word. It’s been a journey with the Lord that has weeded out my pride and sets my feet toward humility and seeing the world with compassion, the way that He views his Creation.
We try and try to fix our brokenness through all kinds of things, mine being my self-righteousness in my own faith; but God has a better design. He has wanted a solid, healthy, loving relationship with us from the day He form us out of the dust of the earth and breathed life into us. Sin, simply put is us disobeying His commandments, separates us from having a relationship with him. How close would you be to your dad if you disobeyed everything he has instructed you? To bridge that gap between us, YHVH, the God of this universe we read about in the Bible, sent His only son, Yeshua, Jesus Christ to this earth to show us how to walk with Him. Because of our sin in which penalty is death, Jesus died for us and rose from the grave to be united with the Father in heaven. We can now invite Him to be the king of our lives, not as a dictator or monarchy, but as a Father who is royalty and invites us to be close to Him. Our broken relationship can be restored, as mine was when I said that I was all in after that service in ninth grade. I’m ashamed to say that it’s taken nearly thirty years for me to start obeying all that Jesus commanded us in Matthew 28:19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” We are called to make disciples who obey Jesus and make more disciples. The chain will not stop with my pride.
I simply shared my story and God’s story to say this: you have a story to share that may sound similar or vastly different to mine. Jesus wants your story, whatever the beginning is, to end with Him in it. Not just a supporting role so you can live your life with a side of Jesus; but as the hero, your rescuer from your broken state and lover of your soul. If you have a story like that, share it. If you don’t have this story but would like to, call me. Seriously, call me, let’s talk.