Those crazy Christians! Have you ever wondered why some Christians seem to be a little…over the top? Their Facebook posts are always Bible verses or Christian blogs or some quote that makes you roll your eyes a little bit? Well, if so, I used to think like you. But now I am that other person! A “crazy Christian.” What happened?! I hit a point in my life when I finally had nothing else to lose–or so I thought. But I ended up losing more than I imagined while gaining more than I ever hoped for. Let me explain:
After a series of events, I found myself in a strange place. (I’ve blogged about most of these events on this site–just search “Jamie” if you’re curious to read more about my journey.) My life was changing in a huge way and I was losing control!
I lost the “it” neighborhood. I lost the big house on the cul-de-sac. I lost status. I lost control of a lot of things that I’d been clinging to for most of my adult life. I lost the country club membership. I lost the nights of partying and living it up until the wee hours of the morning. I lost lazy Sunday mornings of lying around and not having to go anywhere. I lost my life as I knew it.
“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21
To live is Christ? To die is gain? I have finally discovered the meaning of this verse. To live is Christ: My life is so different–in the best way possible–since I discovered the importance of a real, two-way relationship with Jesus. He loved me all along and I was too afraid to lose my old self to follow Him. I was afraid to go all-in because I wanted to control everything. I could not even fathom how much freedom there could be by surrendering it all.
To die is gain: The old me is officially dead. (Hallelujah!) I never would have believed how awesome a new life could be! It’s hard to imagine that someone could be happier than ever after losing so much, right?
Let It Go
There are people in my life who I really care about that are afraid to lose those their current life. I mean, it’s scary to surrender control and let go when you don’t know what God has in store. But I lost even more while seeking a closer relationship with the God of the universe:
I lost credit card debt. I lost the mortgage I couldn’t afford. I lost the morning after hangovers. I lost negative influences in my life. I lost the thoughts that my life had no purpose. I lost feelings of hopelessness and fear of the future. I lost the desire to conform to the world around me.
What are you afraid to lose? Friends? Freedom? Your identity? Control? I know someone who is afraid that if she surrenders her life fully to God, she’ll “have to” give up drinking. Or “have to” stop smoking. She is afraid she’ll lose her reputation as the fun girl. I know a guy who thinks that his foul mouth is just “who he is” and is afraid the church people will try to “make him” stop. He is also afraid that he’ll “have to” give his money to the church. I have another friend who is so afraid to lose control of her plans for her future, that she won’t allow God to come close enough to alter them. Can you relate?
Are you holding back from experiencing the life God intended for you? Maybe you attend church, but you won’t join a group. Maybe you joined a group, but you won’t open up about your struggles. Maybe you are fine with checking the boxes of Christianity but you think those people who raise their hands in worship are crazy and showing off. (Maybe they are. But maybe they love Jesus like some people love their sports team or favorite band? Who knows–but why not give it a try? What will you lose?) What exactly is it that is keeping you from going all-in?
Sweet friends, please believe that when you choose to let go of your pride (among other things), you will gain amazing joy, purpose, freedom, friendships, and so much more! God is just waiting for you to decide that you want it. It’s yours for the taking! God designed you to live abundantly–with purpose. Not just to survive this life feeling insignificant. If you are struggling to find happiness, maybe you are just looking in all the wrong places?
How “Have To” Becomes “Want To”
What are your desires? Sometimes we feel like God must not love us because He never gives us what we want. However, here’s the other thing I learned through this journey: Maybe God knows what’s best for you–and your current desires may actually be bad for you.
“Take delight in the Lord,
and (then) he will give you the desires of your heart.”
Psalm 37:4 (“then” added)
So how do we change our desires? Let Him do it! But first, take delight in Him. But how, you ask? Start by seeking God. Look for His presence. He’s all around you–even in the little details. Thank Him for every good thing in your life. Seek Him by reading the Bible. Talk to Him–He hears everything you say. You don’t have to get all prim and proper with Him. Prayers can be like conversations–He loves to hear us acknowledge Him. All of these things are delightful to the Lord. The more you seek Him, the more your desires will begin to change into the things that actually bring you joy. Pure joy. You won’t “have to” give up anything. Christianity isn’t about rules–it’s about relationship. What wouldn’t you do for the one you love with all your heart? God will give you the desires of your heart when you transform your heart first.
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:33-34
Oh God, may I continue to seek you first each and every day of my life. Thank you for your mercy and grace that I so desperately needed to get past my past. Thank you for sending your son, Jesus, to rescue us from the struggles of this life. May your presence be evident to everyone who reads this. Please Lord, ignite a fire in their hearts to seek you and take delight in you. Transform their hearts to want what you want and to experience the abundant life that you planned for them! In Jesus’ mighty name, Amen!