I get all kinds of weird excited when we talk about What we Believe and Who we Believe In.
You know why? Because I’m not thinking about reciting the Westminster Catechism. (Which is awesome stuff.) I’m thinking about the Person that this is all about.
More specifically, I think about me and Jesus’ story. It’s colorful. It’s dynamic. It’s dramatic. (I mean, what else could it be?)
About every 5 years I read back through my old journals. (Thank you for your empathy through the intrawebs.) I can tangibly feel all of you cringing with me. (Yes. My journals are super cringe worthy.) Half of y’all are like, “Oh my lord up in heaven. Burn that stuff! Burn it!” You’re probably right. But I just can’t do it. Written on all of those thousands of pages (stop laughing, Laurisa,) is not just the story of my life, but also the story of my faith.
Guess what happened the last time I did my big journal read-through?
I was in the midst of reading my 13- year-old angst, with one eye open, because I couldn’t quite bear to look at it with two. (There is usually some Whiskey on the Rocks involved in the reading of that particular tome.) And suddenly I was clearly aware of the presence of the Lord and Jesus asking me to write down every single time I had encountered Him, every thing the Holy Spirit had taught me, every single journey I went on with Him.
So I got out a piece of paper and stared (glaringly) at my journal for a minute. All I could see in the swirls of my bad handwriting was my moaning and my loneliness and immaturity.
So I was like, ok, how am I going to do this? And Jesus said, “Look for Me.”
So I did. I started reading the whole dramatic, embarrassing, immature thing in a different way.
I started looking for my Friend. I started looking for the things that He did and the places He took me and every tiny piece of growth I experienced and everything that He taught me…from the big to the small. Every time He provided. Every time He made a way. Every time we laughed together. Every time He helped me to process my life.
I started making bullet points on a piece of paper and I was SHOCKED at how quickly I filled that page up. I was shocked that He was there, in the frothing, tumultuous pages of an extremely hurt, wild, emotionally-shutting-down little girl. I was shocked that I hadn’t noticed it before. I was even more shocked at His constant involvement in my life.
We all have a story with Jesus. All of us.
I grew up in the church. And there’s beautiful things that grew in me because of that, and broken things. Most of us have experienced “church” as a man-made system of organization, a hierarchy of leadership and authority, a culture, a way of doing things. And we have areas of gratitude and places of pain because of it.
Because what we call “Church” is Christendom. And Christendom is not the Kingdom of God. It’s a way we’ve tried to organize ourselves and be the Body of Christ. And Christendom will grow or die because it’s made by human hands.
And what God wants to remain will remain and what God wants to fall away will fall away.
My 20’s was spent processing disappointment, anger, and the bitterness of my own heart towards Church and the people who lead it. (And I’m not just talking like, I got hurt because people are immature and broken. It was a lot deeper than that.) My heart had to be dealt with. Maybe you’ve been there, too.
If you haven’t been there, you will. (And if you haven’t been there you need to go there.)
Let’s not pretend, ok?
I had to go to the mats, over and over again with Jesus. But I came out the other side with a compassion that can ONLY be because of God. (This is me we’re talking about here...Quick to anger, slow to love, keeping records of wrongs unto a thousand generations.) If my heart is moving in compassion towards the people who have wronged me, it is ONLY because He forgives so I can forgive.
Because He loves, I can love.
(As in, He fills me with extraordinary, supernatural, totally-not-me resurrection love.)
So I was thinking about our upcoming podcasts and I was all jazzed, but as I remembered the depths of my own process I became so aware of the pain I see in hearts when we say, “let’s talk about what we believe” because, for some, they can’t separate the Belief from the structure that hurt them deeply.
And for those hearts, for all of you who are still in the middle of the process, the middle of the wrestle, my heart aches for you.
Can we do this together? Can we ask Him to start telling us our Story?
He’s the best story teller I know. His narration is perfect. (And Trustworthy.) His perspective is omniscient. When He tells me the dark chapters of our story, the ones that were horrible, embarrassing, painful, He tells it in a way that I’m constantly shocked by. (Let’s remember that He isn’t judging us the way that we are!)
Do you know what I began to see, as He told me our story?
I began to see my part in HIS story. That actually, it’s His story I’m a part of. This moved my heart in ways I couldn't even begin to understand. And I began to care, so much more, about His story. That His story would be told. That I would understand every chapter. That I would know the writer truly and deeply. And the more I looked the more I loved Him.
He catches us up in His Story.
His story is the gospel. It’s everything before, it’s everything behind, it’s everything yet to come.
And I’m in it! You’re in it! The process of our healing, our redemption, our hope, is dripping down with each drop of Jesus’ blood. Our darkest struggles. Our greatest places of pain. Our most valiant efforts to love. Our story is there when He comes up out of the grave because THERE IS NO POWER IN HEAVEN OR HELL THAT CAN KEEP US FROM THE LOVE OF THE FATHER ON THE THRONE. It’s all there.
He knows, friends. He knows where you are. He sees you. He’s in it for the long haul.
Ask Him. Ask Him to tell you the story of you and Him.
My prayer for each of you is that, as we talk about Who we are and what we Believe, your heart would have the capacity to engage with His story and with the story of you and Him.
That for every tender hurting place, you would be met with His tenderness. That for every broken place, you would be met by the One who was broken for you. That the account of your life would begin to change as you ask Him to be the narrator. And that the utter, relentless, all-consuming love of God would sweep you up into His story in a new way.