Fifteen years ago today, my life completely changed. I was a 14 year old girl sitting at a youth camp when a preacher named Gus gave an alter call and asked if anyone wanted to come forward and receive Jesus Christ as Lord of their life. I remember absolutely nothing about his message, only that his name was Gus and the alter call. Jesus had been pursuing me since I was in my mother's womb, but pretty intensely began opening my eyes to Him for about 6 or 7 years leading up to that day. I had no idea how my life would change or what following Jesus even would be like, but I knew it was going to be radically different from what I thought the Christian life was.
See, when I was younger than that I thought being a Christian was basically synonymous with being American. At least until I met and became best friends with a girl down the street named Hope. We quickly became friends and spent a lot of time at each other's houses, starting from the time we were about 8 years old. When I stepped into her home, it may as well have felt at foreign to me as stepping into China, because her family's entire way of life was so different from mine. I did not understand why they talked to God like he was a friend right there in the room when they prayed instead of reciting scripted prayers. I did not understand why she was memorizing Scripture with her mom or why she wasn't allowed to wear spaghetti strapped tank tops. Why were people from their church always in their home and how did her parents seem to stay so in love after decades of marriage? Why did they seem to have such joy and peace even though they didn't have all the things the world says will bring it?
Since our friendship remained and grew over the years, I was able to ask her many these questions and I kept getting the same answer over and over. "Jesus, because the Bible says xyz, because Church is..." Once the Gospel was preached to me at that camp, I rose my hand and ran up to that alter faster than you can say "bless your heart." I needed no explanation of all the doctrines, creation vs. evolution, or eschatology. I did not need "proof." I had experienced first hand what life without Jesus was like and seen what life could be like if He was Lord of it. Life with Him just clearly worked and prospered for Hope's family. It was like they had the blueprint that the world didn't seem to have on how to do life well with Jesus as their foundation and have actual rock solid joy and peace.
When I told some people I was close to at the time, I found that not everyone had the same enthusiasm I had. "She'll simmer down, this is just a phase," I heard. I definitely went through my highs and lows in my teenage years, but for the most part, I haven't looked back since that day, June 30th, 2002. I had a drink of that Living Water that satisfies more than anything in this world and I never stopped drinking.
You may have wondered where I've been on this blog or maybe you didn't even notice I stopped. I want to tell you, 15 years into this Kingdom Life, my desire to make Jesus known, whether on this blog or elsewhere, has not diminished a single ounce. I'm not only not simmering down, I'm just heating up. In all my years as believer, I've never had fire in my bones to communicate Jesus to my generation and the generations younger than me like I do now. Because Jesus has become everything to me. I have found Him to be faithful when I wandered. I've found Him pursuing me when I felt neglected. I've found Him fighting for me when I felt defeated. I've found Him to be a solid rock when I was so unstable. And maybe much your surprise, I've found Him to be an absolute blast. He is the thrill of my life. And I want you to experience that with Him too. I want you to experience the abundant, victorious, free life that Jesus wants you to have, and I'm here to talk about. Don't call this a comeback, but make no question, I'm absolutely coming back.
This post has felt a bit selfish to write, because writing something publicly is usually intended to benefit the reader. So I want to leave you with two things:
1) Don't let it your everyday life as a believer be lost on you. If you are following Jesus, your life is absolutely not normal. You never know who is looking at your life, maybe even an 8 year old girl like I was, noticing that something is radically different. Your life might be testifying to someone about who Jesus is and what He is like beyond the most eloquent of sermons.
2) If you've been a Christian for a long time, and feel like the Christian life has not been all it's cracked up to be, you may not be experiencing the fullness of all the Jesus came to give you (that was my experience for a long time!). He came that you may have abundant life (John 10:10). If you're wondering how to let that theology and you're reality collide, you're in the right place, because that's exactly what Jesus has compelled me to write about.
Jesus, thank you for relentlessly pursuing me when I was not looking for you. Happy Anniversary to us.